Every two years Barcelona becomes the place to be for all video games translators and researchers. Finally, last week the long expected Fun For All: III International Conference on Translation and Accessibility
in Video Games and Virtual Worlds took off
in the sunny centre of Barcelona and brought together game localisation specialists, translators, researchers and enthusiasts. I had the chance to be a part of it, and here is a short overview of the event and its main takeaways.
• Fun For All is organised every two years by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
• This year the event was held on 13th and 14th March in Residencia
d’Investigadors, in Barcelona.
• It featured 8 panels, 2 keynote lectures, 38 speakers.
• The topics covered both academia and industry related issues.
What struck me the most was the overall friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Well,
it couldn’t have been the opposite, as the conference was organised by a group
of cheerful and enthusiastic people with extensive experience in game localisation. The topics ranged from game accessibility and serious games, through localisation of cultural references and feminist localisation to localisation quality and culturalisation.
1) Cultural elements play crucial role in game localisation. Even one small item (e.g. a short audio file) may contribute to product failure and sabotage long years of work, as in the case of Kakuto Chojin. Thus, game publishers and developers should be aware of culturalisation when manufacturing products for the global market.
2) Video games based rehabilitation still needs a lot of research. Video games tend to be more motivational compared to traditional rehabilitation. Especially in physical rehabilitation for patients with brain injury games may be
a powerful tool, but still more feedback is need to assess their effectiveness.
3) The right balance between loyalty and creativity is important to preserve the gameplay experience. One of the biggest challenges of game localisation is the proper transcreation of cultural elements. Successful solutions can be achieved if creativity and translator’s freedom are balanced with the loyalty to the original.
4) Localising for the 47 % female gamers may be the best localisation decision possible. While most of the games are developed and localised with male gamers in mind, the number of female players increases. Thus, localisation efforts can’t be limited to economically viable “locale”, overlooking the needs and expectations of the female gamers. Solutions as easy as adding female lead characters can be a real game changer.
5) Correct internationalisation is the key to qualitative game localisation. As obvious as it may seem, not all game developers are aware of the need of proper internationalisation that will help to avoid localisation bugs. Ensuring extra menu space for localisation in other languages, adding extra variables for male and female adjective forms, or using a font that supports all special characters are just a few examples of the internationalisation best practices.
On a personal note, I think the focus of the conference shifted too much towards research and academia, leaving the practical issues slightly in the shade. All in all, the event was worth waiting for and now it’s time to start the countdown to Fun For All 2016!
(Photo by D. Pawlak)