New challenges in interactive media & video game localization projects
How are globalization, technology and the rise of social networks and virtual communities affecting interactive media localization projects? Globalization and the increased access to new technology have opened new opportunities but also bring quite a few new challenges.
The game localization process cannot be considered at the end of the game production cycle anymore. Code and content internationalization has to be considered since the very beginning of the design process. Awareness of international requirements needs to be present at an early stage of the game creation.
Of course localization approaches vary depending on the specific needs and the global ambition of the developer. New online project management and collaboration tools, combined with an easier outsourcing, makes the creation of global teams possible for companies of all sizes. Many of the tasks that big developers could only perform in-house, now can be taken care by all types of external vendors. Cloud computing and virtualization is an important enabler of this trend.
The amount of content that needs to be localized has increased significantly. Developers and distributors need to consider alternative approaches for different types of content. Wikis, Forums and online Guides can now be managed by the players themselves. Those who consider Crowdsourcing as a cost saving approach are failing, while those who enable fan participation and use this approach to create a sense of community are creating solid networks of contributors and buyers.
An easier access to international markets also brings new challenges. A direct translation is not valid anymore to engage costumers. Players need to feel they are taken into consideration in the games they chose to play. Culturalization checks are now crucial, not because of legislation, but because a crowd of game players is scrutinizing every single detail. Localizers and developers have to work together in order to produce a set of products that will please the different markets. Localizers need to be proactive and propose changes, while developers need to code with a conscience that their game will need local adaptations.
The session will explore the mentioned topics and trends and will provide guidance on what works and what doesn’t. The reasons why a new global, community driven, and locally adapted mindset is necessary to succeed in such a competitive industry will be analyzed.
New challenges in interactive media & video game localization projects
Víctor Alonso Lion @valion Localization ConsultantNew Challenges inInteractive MediaLocalization Projects New Challenges inThe purpose of this talk is Interactive Mediato try to explain thechanges localization is Localization Projectsliving nowadays.We are in an environmentof continuous change.And these changes aredefinitely going to continue I International Conference on Video Game and Virtualwith, in addition, an Worlds Translation andexponential increase of Accessibilitychanging speed. Faculty of Translation and Interpreting Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
These changes are in fact, atleast I understand it this way,a great opportunity to thosewilling to reconsider theirprocesses, those ready toreconsider what is “the rightway” of doing things today,and those who are open tocheck new ideas andtransform them in newopportunities.Those who are open to pressthe reset button from time totime are the ones that willadapt the better to allchanges.
I strongly believe thatinteractive media and newmedia localization is thepart of our industry that hasthe most potential to enableresearch, and change.This due to the fact thatInteractive Media and VideoGames in particular offer aframework which is at alltimes at the edge of newtechnology.Interactive Media contentlocalizers could be the onesthat will lead the“localization revolution”.
So what is going on in ourenvironment?What is exactly this strangeecosystem we are working intoday in new medialocalization?We will first try to describe thisEcosystem and a few of theenablers or facilitators of thischange.
Enabler # 1: Global PlaygroundIt is of course no newsanymore that we live in aglobal world.Interactions come and go inseconds from Beijing to SanFrancisco, from Berlin toBarcelona, or Singapore toDublinThis is of course a generaltrend in all content relatedindustries, nothingspecifically particular forlocalization professionals orprofessionals working oninteractive media.Still it is radical changeimportant to note.
Increased access to new technology Enabler # 2: Global Increase of technological access And we are only at the beginning of this. A second enabler we can mention which is going to facilitate this "revolution": The raise of broadband connectivity will definitively give access and open collaboration channels to millions we do not even consider today. This will bring not only significant content changes, but also new competition in all areas.
Enabler # 3 (1): Social Media Landscape:We have given ourselves (developers by creating it and users by adopting it) a layer ofworldwide interactions: social media. We can see this as simply a layer of newcommunication channels.Videogames, social games and Virtual worlds play a crucial part in all this.
Enabler # 3 (2): Social Media Landscape:Interactions are not preprogrammed (they can be designed however), and can be triggered by thecommunity itself.In addition, a new layer is coming. Its basically a gaming layer (ref. Jesse Schell : Carnegie Mellon’sEntertainment Technology Center); or as I prefer to call it, an "interactive layer". This new upcoming layeris here to stay and will influence many other areas. I believe education and eLearning will be the first onesto join “this game”.
Challenge #1: PreparationLocalization cannot be anafterthought: “Got myEnglish/Japanese stuff andnow lets try to sell thissomewhere else. Lets make itFrench, Spanish .... Germanyis a pretty big market too... “The bad news is that you willnot make it on time anymore.Costumers do not really wait,and the most commonsituation today is that a newthing will come out while youare working on making yourmedia international and youwill lose you buzz timeframefor making your project asuccess.
Localizers and developers have to work together in order to produce a set of products thatwill please the different markets. Localizers need to be proactive and propose changes,while developers need to code with a conscience that their game will need localadaptations.As mentioned Code and content internationalization has to be considered since the verybeginning. Awareness of international requirements needs to be present at an early stageof the game creation in order to facilitate a smooth internationalization process. GAME DEVELOPMENT PROCESS Pre- Post- Concept Design Production Launch Production Production INTERNATIONALIZATION AND LOCALIZATION PROCESS Localization related Engineering & Technical Procurement Internationalization Localization Testing International Launch
Challenge #3: No static contentThis is the most important trend wehave seen lately.Games can be internationalized andeven ready for localization, with evenan early involvement of localizationteams (no matter if internal orexternal); the new challenge ofcontinues change is here.Not even AAAs with years of previousdevelopment are static anymore.NextGen consoles allow for DLCcontent.And we are not talking only aboutMMOs who by themselves are reallyvirtual worlds....Those changes evolve and createnew content everyday.
Challenge #4: Communityowned contentBut how is this interactivemedia changing? Thecommunity is starting to haveinfluence in the content:Source and Translation.Do you know what is the 2ndbiggest wiki in the world? WOWwiki, just after wikipedia, with 80karticles (June 2010) Which is kindof amazing. Think of it. Peoplecreating content and morecontent on information of a worldthat is not real. The input of the final user reaches much easily the clients,Community owns the content the developers. The community somehow decides what thetoday. Not the technicians. next expansion will look like, what developers will create,Community owns the content what kind of characters are more popular and which onesbut is even influencing the will not be attractive. This input comes from this socialway we localize it. network layer we have created ( and we all have somehow created it: even if only by our participation).
CONTENT is what WE CARE ABOUT • Big RPGs and MMOs + 1 Mio. Words Mio. • AAA Game About 500k words to translate 300k words to dub. dub. (20 blockbuster movies). movies). 50 dubbing actors per language • Social games (250 studio hours) hours) 1k words• Basic games No l10n
Challenge #6: SecurityIn the past, to secure theassets trusted by the clientyou had or had to have alocked room, or to heavily trustyour external and internalteam.There were unavoidable licksin security. This forced manydevelopers to bring productionin-house, with all the cost thatgenerated by having acomplete internationallocalization team internally.
Today technology has brought us what we were strongly looking for... virtualization. Todaywe can ensure files will never ever go out of our network and still enable an externalcollaborator to access them with the rights we need to give them.Basically, with virtualization you can ensure no assets, tools, content ever, never, leavesyour server. Being able to work with this technology will increase your chances of clientstrusting you their content assets.
Challenge #7: CollaborationYou need to have buddies. You won’tbe able to do it alone.Massive content leads toincreased process control.You will need to share glossaries,discuss terminology and share yourstyle guides.Collaboration tools like wikis,discussion forums, tools to sharefiles are absolutely mandatorynowadays.And if your clients are still not usingthese tools at the moment... they will.
Challenge #8: TechnologyOne important thing I say to people that wantsto enter the loc field is... you need to be up todate on technology, you need to be friendswith it.Technology is your essential everyday tool.You need to master not only relatedtechnology, but also be a master in the use ofthis social layer mentioned before.You simply will not perform right if you work onan industry , supposed to be at the edge ofnew tech, without being yourself open to test,try and invest time in researching newapproaches everyday.Its challenging, but definitely worth the effort.You will need to understand how your contentis built, understand automated languagestrings, on-the –fly messages at least a fewbasics of language engineering.Even if it is only to explain to your clientsengineers, what they can and cannot do withthe content if it is supposed to be localized.
Challenge #9: TransparencyOf course localization approaches vary depending on thespecific needs and the global ambition of the developer.New online project management and collaboration tools,combined with an easier outsourcing, makes the creationof global teams possible for companies of all sizes.An interesting and challenging consequence of this isthat you wont be able to hide the way you are working,who your collaborators or outsourcers are... who yourpartners are.Its very clear if you are a MLV, your local partners willprobably need to work with local PR and Marketingteams of the final client.The same can happen if you are a team of translators:you may need to work together at client premises to testthe game, .. or clients will require each contributor tosign a personal NDA...We should better work on this, specially companies.Control will not work anymore in such a connected world.
Challenge #10: EngagementIf you want to engage your players you will need tounderstand them. You will need to know them deeplyand know the tricks that will make them love yourwork.For translators you need to be awesome writers/copywriters. Know when to use an expression closerto marketing and when to use a more creative andliterature like style.Direct translation is not valid anymore to engagecostumers. Players need to feel they are taken intoconsideration in the games they chose to play. Youwill need to adapt to your local and culture notbecause of legislation, but because a crowd of gameplayers is scrutinizing every single detail of youroutput.The more popular the game, the more critics you willhave. And today, they can use social media as “loudspeakers” to spread their message (positive ornegative).Users are fans and emotionally bound to the product.They could really feel spoiled and disappointed if agame translation, voice over or functionality in aspecific language is not working properly.
Conclusion:So how can we deal with this environment of continuous change?I personally believe Project Management is a strategic competency essential not only for companiesworking on localization but even for the freelance working on smaller projects or on a specific tasks.Project management as the disciplineof addressing and navigating change, risk and opportunity.The technician cannot work in his own silo anymore, and needs to understand the overall needs ofthe client, understand the “why” of this continuously changing environment. We need to adapt, we needto be connected, we need continuous communication and be open to change the way we work.We all better be adaptable to change.
www.pinknoise.es Víctor Alonso Lion Twitter: Twitter: @valion Personal blog:www.globalcontentstrategy.com Find me on: on: Linkedin