Gaming for development: introduction to localization and internationalization of educational games; paper presentation at the 43rd Annual Conference of ISAGA, the International Simulation and Gaming Association (Universitatea Babeş-Bolyai, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2-6 July 2012); Pieter van der Hijden, Sofos Consultancy, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Gaming for education and training can have a great potential for developing countries. Games can partially replace old and unattractive textbooks; they may compensate the lack of qualified teachers; and, last but not least, they give the children (and adults as well) the feeling to be connected to the modern world. Nevertheless, applying these games in this context, may lead to disappointing learning outcomes, especially when the games have been developed abroad.
The main challenge for gaming in the context of developing countries is the lack of resources: gaming expertise, access to technology and funding. On the other hand, expertise on local conditions is high, crafting is widely spread and local labour is relatively cheap. The real challenge is finding the right balance in this mix of opportunities: developing games that can be applied in developing countries. One strategy is using games developed abroad, but adapting them for local use.
Adapting these games to the local context (language, visualization, etc.) may improve their effectiveness and efficiency for learning. Such adaptation of existing games is called localization. In fact, during the building of the game, future localization should already be taken into account. This is called internationalization.
Software firms paved the way in building applications to be used in different countries, languages and cultures. They in fact introduced the concepts of localization and internationalization in a rather straightforward way. In games, however, more attention has to be paid to the user experience and the use of multimedia. Localization and internationalization become more complex then.
In this presentation we will introduce both concepts. We illustrate with examples the changes that might happen during localization. We reflect on converting an international symbolic solution into a local and concrete one and present some new insights on frame games and content. We conclude with an agenda for further research and development.