Take this opportunity and meet some of our amazing translators. Our professional translators are specialists, and only translate to their native tongue. The first translator you get to meet is Ramon. He’s been working with LocalizeDirect for five years and translates games into European Spanish.
Why do you work with game translation?
I love video games. They are my biggest passion and it’s a real pleasure to be able to work in an industry I love so much. This is my dream job and every project I work in has a piece of my heart. I know these words sound rather romantic, but that’s honestly the way I feel. The video game industry is a place I can call home.
Tell us a bit about your background, how did you get into translation?
I have a degree in Translation and Interpreting, a Master’s degree in Translation & Paratranslation and even a PhD (my thesis was titled Translation & Paratranslation of Video Games). While I was studying, I was working in the video game industry.
In the year 2003 I started writing for video game magazines. For a decade, I collaborated with important Spanish magazines such as Edge, NGamer, GameReactor, MeriStation, AkihabaraBlues, Ciberpaís… During that time, I had the chance to travel a lot, meet a lot of developers, assist to several gamescom, visit several studios… Ah, the good old times.
Thanks to that experience in the industry, I had the chance to work with the Spanish branches of some big companies, such as Nintendo Ibérica or Bandai Namco Ibérica. In the year 2009, a friend of mine encouraged me to try luck in the video game localization industry. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work in hundreds of projects and it’s been the best. There’s nothing better than seeing users enjoy the game you translated for them.
Some of the projects I’ve worked in even earned several prizes and nominations for Best Translation of the year.
What is your favorite genre to work on and why?
I enjoy working with almost every genre, but I have a special interest on RPG. They are my favourite games to play, so it’s logical to enjoy translating them too. They usually have rich universes with many notes to read, books, dialogue trees...They are amazing. I also love translating point and click games, action games, adventure games, sandboxes, RTS... Almost everything. Every game is a new challenge!
What game did you most enjoy working on?
I have several games I really enjoyed working on. Not every project is fun, but most of them were amazing. I can’t disclose a couple of them due to NDA, but, for example, I enjoyed working on The Witcher 3, as I’m a big fan of the books and the story of Geralt of Rivia. I’m also a big fan of the Broken Sword series, so I also enjoyed a lot working on the 5th entry of the series.
I loved working on Zombie Vikings too, as it’s a game full of puns and jokes and we had a lot of freedom to translate them; it was great and the localization was praised by users and critics alike. Divinity Original Sin, Sniper Elite 3, Thief, How to Survive... I can’t pick just one, all of them were amazing experiences!
Do you work in other fields?
Sometimes I do some audiovisual translations (a couple of movies and realities for TV) and legal/sworn translations, but that’s not the usual thing. Mostly, I work as a translator and as an interpreter for the video game industry (games, marketing, conference interpreting, etc).
I also wrote a couple of books about video games. So yeah, I’m kind of specialized in this field.
What are the greatest challenges when working as a game translator?
For me, the greatest challenge of them all is to be at the top level of quality the developers expect from you. They trust you their baby, the game they are dreaming of and the game they want users to enjoy. Our role is to be faithful to the developers, to give our all in every project just exactly as they do, and deliver the top quality to the final user.
As a user, I love to see games that have a lot of care in them, both in the gameplay and in the localization. Users do take localization very seriously; they don’t want to be reminded that they have a translation in their hands, they just want to enjoy the game and immerse in it. Just as the developers want them to do. Therefore, every game is a challenge with two big final bosses that can only be defeated when we give it our all.
On the more technical side, the lack of context can be problematic, as well as the use of variables. Many times, developers forget that there are languages that have different words for male and female, or for singular and plural. That’s something that can be problematic when translating a videogame.
I remember a game with a random name generator for weapons where developers had to add some code to the game so we could have male and female versions of every adjective.
Also, there is code, variables, jokes, cultural references, char limits... In fact, there are a lot of challenges in every video game, so it’s a difficult job were having a lot of experience and extensive knowledge of the industry can make everything easier.
When is it funny working as a game translator?
It’s funny from the very beginning. When I receive a task, informing myself about the game, seeing websites, trailers or whatever, it’s extremely fun. Sometimes, you even want to play it, and I’ve discovered many great games this way!
Then there’s the translation process in itself. The challenges and the sense of achievement when you find the translation to a difficult joke are very compelling. And then, there’s the release of the game, where you can see the reactions of users and, if they are enjoying what you did, you get that feeling of mission accomplished (even if you’ll never be able of talking about that game!). The full process is fun and I can’t think of anything better for me.
What advice would you give to developers before they send their text for translation?
My best advice would be to bear in mind that every language has its particularities. Gender and number are typical issues and they must be aware of that. For example, if the game gives players the possibility of creating male or female characters, they should bear in mind that many of the dialogs will be different for each gender.
Also, the lack of context can be an issue. The more information they can give us, the better. For example, they can send the dialogs in the appropriate order and not in a random order that makes it harder to translate.
What advice would you give to those seeking to become games translators?
Never give up, never surrender! It’s difficult to start working in this industry, the same as in any other industry in this world. They should study a lot (nowadays, there are many Master’s degrees and online courses) and get ready for the difficulties previously said. It’s better to star working in this industry knowing already how to deal with the lack of context, the variables or the char limits.
Do you play games? Any current favourites?
I play games all the times. Right now I’m engaged with Project X Zone 2, Quantum Break and Lords of the Fallen, the three of them great games that I’m enjoying a lot! I also play FIFA a lot, specially online with friends; but that’s another kind of experience.
What are your hobbies when you’re not translating games?
Aside from playing video games, I also read a lot (novels, comic books, manga, academic papers, etc) and I’m also a big movie fan (I watch a lot of movies every year!). I also play board/card games with my friends and travel a lot. I have too many hobbies, I know! :)
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