5 Things to Learn from a Poor video Game Translation

Video games are one of the top priorities in the translation industry, you will find plenty of video game translation services offering quality converted content. But don’t be fooled. Some video games got famous due to bad translations! But that does not mean it was done on purpose. If you compare the gaming industry from 10 years back to now, it has grown immensely. 

The video game translation services these days are fast-paced, technology-oriented, and using a hybrid approach to learning from their past mistakes. Initial translation and development for a video game is a long process. We know that most video games are made in Japan. So the majority of players were also Japanese. This created a large market for online video games in Japan, but it also created problems for developers in the translation of text and dialogue into foreign languages. 

Poor translation has led to disastrous results, affecting the sales. So which of the video game translations were poor of all? 

Let’s find out. 

Literal translations are an Absolute NO

Let’s say you are a game developer who doesn’t speak Chinese. Sure, you can understand Japanese, but still, both languages are different despite the similar sentiments. The Chinese translation services will take care of the translation from Japanese to Chinese. 

But if the translation is literal in context, still a lot of meaning and semantics will be lost in the process. 

Translating a language from word to word is not the answer. 

For instance, take a look at the original version of Ghosts’n’Goblins. It was the first game on  Nintendo’s console. The phrase 

“Trap devised by Satan” sounded a lot strange as the translation result. One must always hire proper translation experts, also known as subject-matter experts, to avoid literal translations. 

Test, Test, and More Testing 

Can a Malaysian-based video game score sales without a test run? Even for that, you need to ensure that the translated content is accurate. Malay translation services will ensure their responsibility to provide the translation. But it doesn’t stop there. Like any good product, a video game needs a test run too. 

Professional Malay game translators prepare a list of questions to ask from clients, including the use of content in the game. They will first understand the content that needs translation. In the test run, you can identify the gap in translation and localization. If any piece of translation is inaccurate, it can be remedied before the game hits the market. So the video game quality testing is not limited to only technical aspects. 

Quoting the Unquotable

Quotes that are similar to slag or jargon may not have a substantial meaning in the target language. A local jargon in English will lose its meaning when translated into Chinese. The sentiment or the expression will sound bizarre to the Chinese players. 

At this point, the Chinese translation services will be held responsible for a mistranslated quote. Try to replace the quote with a localized version in Chinese can save the translation from falling to tethers. 

A quick translation recovery with Google Translate may save a game from turning into a total disaster, but this problem should be resolved during the test run. 

Inaccurate Intonation 

Will Malaysian culture have an impact on video games? Yes, it will. If a game is being translated from English to Malay or from Japanese to Malay, the difference will be highly prominent. 

Inappropriate intonation from English to Malay will be more as compared to Japanese to Malay. 

Why? 

The American culture, wording, and sentiments are far different than local Malay. Japanese is still considered to be the nearest language to Malay after Chinese. They share the parent language. 

So if the game character is saying “please” in the English version, it may sound superfluous in Malaysian culture. Now, the Malay translation services with the help of their subject-matter experts need to separate the cultural aspect of the video game from the technical aspect.

Inexperienced Swearing is Critical 

The use of swearing is one of the most common lingual terms, and yet it is still misunderstood. Every culture has its own favorite swear word (no joke!) and to translate it is most critical too. 

There are even ways to translate swearing, only if you understand the cultural context of the target language. Translating swearing requires the artistic skills of the game translator. To express the profanities, one needs to understand the context, meaning behind it and the difference it will make in the translation. 

Swearing weighs differently in various cultures. Some are forbidden in some countries, while in other countries it’s a cultural norm. So the translation services need to focus on the literal translation once again. 

Be Creative When it comes to Video Game Translation! 

Being too literal is the death of translation. Being too vague in translating the video game will make it boring and confuse the players. To avoid poor translation, the game’s theme, language, and context must be understood. 

It’s better for the gaming team to collaborate before starting the translation process to ensure everything goes smoothly. So why not hire professional video game translation services to avoid all the troubles?