Localising games for international audiences is a complex process, but some careful fine-tuning can mean bigger wins for everyone when your games travel overseas. The internet has made gaming a global industry, which brings new opportunities as well as added risks to the table.
Luckily, we know a thing or two about game localisation. If you keep these quick tips at the heart of your localisation efforts, you’ll be off to a great start with cracking those international markets.
#1: Think globally from day one
The first thing you need to do is think globally from day one. You don’t want to create extra localisation work for yourself further down the line by making decisions that cause problems later on.
#2: Start conceptually
With this is mind, it’s a good idea to start with the concepts behind your game: the game itself, the story behind it, any characters involved and how you want your game to be viewed by audiences.
For example: Germany is the largest video game market in Europe, but the country has strict censorship regulations on matters such as violence or references to World War Two.
#3: Avoid stereotypes (or use them wisely)
Stereotypes are a dangerous thing when it comes to global audiences and there’s a fine line between engaging overseas players and alienating them. Culture, race, gender, age and countless other forms of stereotype are best avoided or used very wisely.
#4: Choose your platforms
More specifically, let your audience choose your platforms: the last thing you want is to target the Chinese market with a Facebook game when the network is blocked in that country – whoops! It’s not only a question of accessibility either, but also user preference. Make sure you know the most popular platforms in each market – devices, operating systems, app stores, social networks, etc. – and target the ones closest to your ideal player.
#5: (Almost) always use UTF-8 encoding
The first line of code you write for any game will generally be UTF-8 encoding. There are some specific occasions where UTF-8 isn’t the most efficient choice, but this will rarely (if ever) be the case for games that need localising for multiple audiences.
#6: Separate content and code
The next programming essential is to keep content (text strings, images, etc.) separate from code. This way, you can localise individual pieces of content and pull the relevant files into your game for each given audience. Fail to separate these vital elements of these games and you’ll make it very difficult to tweak them for different audiences later on.
#7: Separate voiceovers from sound effects
Another mistake you’ll kick yourself for later on is failing to separate your voiceovers from sound effects. There are countless times where dialogue accompanies certain sound effects or other parts of your soundtrack, but you don’t want to re-record sound effects every time you have a new language to create voiceovers for. Keep your voiceovers and sound effects separate and then it’s only the dialogue that needs tweaking for each new audience.
#8: Minimise text
You need to allow plenty of room for text to expand or shrink when you translate between languages. This variation can break the layout of your game and mobile games/apps are especially vulnerable. Aside from careful planning and design, minimising the use of text is a good place to start to reduce this potential problem from the outset.
#9: Get your formatting right
Formatting names, times, dates, currencies and other data strings correctly is one of the most vital details that is often overlooked. This not only leads to confusion for international users but also labels your game with that “foreign” feel, which defeats the whole point of localisation to begin with.
#10: Know your universal terms
There’s nothing worse than localising or translating terms that don’t need changing in the first place; in gaming, there are many “universal” phrases and terms that don’t need translating. Beyond that, there are some terms that need to be translated for some markets but not others, so be sure you know the gaming market for each audience in your scope and make the necessary changes – nothing more!
So there you have it, ten quick tips that can make the entire localisation process for your games easier from day one. Don’t fall into the trap of creating extra work for yourself (not to mention, a more expensive localisation project!) by overlooking the final details of game production. These are the details that keep users coming back for more in a gaming industry saturated by new titles every week!
- Posted by Alexandra Kravariti
- On 16th March 2016
- 0 Comments