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The Language of Pokémon Go (and Why It’s Taking Over the World)

It’s official:  Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm. A week after release, it had more active users than Twitter and more engagement than Facebook. Players are walking off cliffs and walking into traffic.  Those of us who don’t play are thoroughly confused, by both our friends’ behavior and by the incomprehensible babble coming out of their mouths.

“Pikachu?” “Gesundheit, and I’ll thank you to cover your mouth next time you sneeze!”

Why does everyone love Pokémon Go? Would you be surprised to learn that language has a lot to do with it? If you’ve been scratching your head in confusion, your wait is over. Let’s unravel the mystery of the language of Pokémon Go, and why the game seems to be taking over the world.

Pokémon Go: Nostalgia That Cuts Across Cultures

 

In the late 90s, Pokémon was kind of a big deal. The little “pocket monsters” (and their associated games, cards and other merchandise) spread from Japan to the US and everywhere in between.

It should come as no surprise, then, that 25% of Pokémon Go players are between the ages of 30-40, and 46% percent are between the ages of 18-29.  A substantial chunk of those 2 age groups would have been kids in the late 90s/early 2000s. Pokémon mania created a common touchpoint for people around the world who were kids at that time. So, the game taps into feelings of nostalgia that cut across cultures.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, there will be more of these common cross-cultural experiences to bind us together, and more opportunities for businesses and brands to create and harness them. Read more

Video Game Localisation: 5 Reasons It’s Still Necessary

Game localisation is the process of translating and adapting a video game to reach new markets. In a multilingual world where almost everyone knows a little bit of English and Google Translate is omnipresent, is video game localisation still necessary? In a word, yes.  And here are five reasons why.

Video game localisation provides a better user experience

Many of today’s video games are immersive experiences. They’re interactive movies, and the player is the star.  While some gamers have used video games as a language learning tool, most people want the option to play in their native language.

And of course, changing the language is only the first step. Video games often contain cultural references or humour that doesn’t translate directly. A skilled localisation team can find equivalents in the target language and culture so that players aren’t confused or offended.

And of course, any localisation team worth its salt will help you avoid translation bloopers like these: 8 Famously Bad Video Game Translations

If you don’t localise, someone else might.

Video game fans want to play the games they covet in their own languages. In fact, if there’s not an official localised version available,  fans may well devote their own time and resources to create one.

Most fan translation communities are careful not to promote piracy. Translations are generally released as software patches. So, they aren’t functional on their own, and you still have to purchase the original game to play.  However, some Chinese volunteer translators were recently arrested for translating Japanese anime and video games into Chinese.  And according  to Slator.com,  “a 2013 inquiry by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs found that Japanese manga, anime, and games illegally distributed to online Chinese sites amount to losses of JPY 3.8t (USD 34.8b).”

The online world is becoming more multilingual, not less

In the beginning, most of the content on the Internet was in English.  But now, the linguistic landscape of the Internet is diversifying. More and more, people are becoming used to having content available in their native tongue. They expect it. And those expectations carry over to gaming, software, smartphones . . . and gaming. Read more

bad video game translations

8 Hilariously Bad Video Game Translations

Those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s remember when video games were the new hotness. Everyone wanted an NES or a Sega Genesis, and we were all so enthralled with the magic of pressing buttons that nobody even cared how bad the dialogue was.

And often, it was bad. Many games were made in Japan first. Translation wasn’t always a top priority. In fact, according to Wikipedia, “Early translations were sometimes “literally done by a “programmer with a phrase book.”  The end result? Some hilariously bad video game translations!

With that in mind, here’s a look back at 8 of the funniest crimes against translation from the video game industry:

Ikari Warriors: Take Good Rest


The end of Nintendo’s famously difficult game Ikari Warriors  had an unexpected reward for the lucky few who were dedicated and skilled enough t0 beat the game: an epic translation fail.

The closing message reads: “You have accomplished the mission.” (So far so good.)
“You are the very prevailer that protect right and justice.” (Thanks . . .  I think.)
I would express my sincere. Thanks to You. Take good rest! Read more

Translation in Video Games

Translation in Gaming: You Must Defeat Sheng Long

Video games have come a long way in the past 30 years. The cinematic masterpieces offered today bear little resemblance to the pixelated classics that so many of us remember fondly from our childhood.

Gaming has become a huge global industry. There are believed to be up to 2.6 billion gamers in the world, with an estimated industry value of $128.5 billion by the end of 2020. The revenue from international video games surpassed that of the international film industry some years ago. Indeed, by 2013 it had reached more than double the revenue that the film industry commanded.

Video game translation

Video game translation plays a key role in the international sale of modern video games. Game producers’ enhanced budgets mean that they can afford top notch translation services in order to ensure that their offerings are word-perfect around the world. However, that wasn’t always the case, as one of the gaming industry’s most famous hoaxes reveals. Read more