Ensuring Quality in Online Game Localization: Starting at the Source
By: Spil Games
by Nancy Ferreira da Rocha, Spil Games
My mission when I started as a Quality Manager at Spil Games was finding innovative ways to improve translation quality. We wanted to move away from a static approach toward a dynamic one that fits the ever-changing gaming industry.
We asked ourselves: where should our quality strategy start? The answer was surprisingly obvious— the source. Simply put, we wanted to prevent the very well-known concept of garbage in, garbage out.
Luckily for Spil Games, our copywriters and editors—who work on source text—are part of the Localization department. So we all sat together and thought of ways we could raise our source quality and make our linguist’s lives a little easier. These are some of the initiatives we’ve rolled out in the past two years.
In the gaming industry, there’s often a race to publish a game first. We also deal with “content-hungry” audiences who always want more and more games, which means there’s a steady flow of content to process every day. It’s simply impossible to treat all content in the same way, so we created quality tiers to focus our attention where the money is: we invest more time and money in the content that generates the highest revenue, and have a lighter approach to low profile content.
Tone of Voice Guidelines
Spil Games has several different brands, and for each brand a different way of speaking and interacting with the audience. We like to nail this in the editorial team’s copywriting phase, but also make sure translators are well aware of who exactly they’re communicating with and how they need to sound. In some situations, translators may need to deviate from our English source in order to “click” with players, which means it’s really important they understand what tone to go for. To help with this, the editorial team compiled detailed tone-of-voice guidelines that we share with our translators.
Culturalization & Internationalization
Culturally appropriate copy translates better and generates fewer queries from the linguists—and that means faster deliveries. Evangelizing the concepts of culturalization and internationalization around the company has been one of the Localization department’s main challenges. Although Spil Games is a very international company, we still need to educate our stakeholders about the importance of taking cultural issues into account when creating content for a global audience. We organize workshops and lunch meetings regularly to spread the word about these two very important concepts.
We send our linguists surveys twice a year. We want to know if the source and explanations we send them are clear enough, if the reference material is sufficient, and if there’s anything else we can do to make the translation process as effective and straightforward as possible.
Implementing these initiatives has made a big difference for our quality at source at Spil Games. And they’ve also raised the Localization department’s visibility within the company—always an advantage. If you’re also looking for ways to improve quality, these tactics are worth thinking about!
Nancy Ferreira da Rocha is Localization Quality Manager at Spil Games. She is responsible for the optimization of user experience and the delivery of branded but locally relevant products to a global user base. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Nancy graduated with a degree in translation in 2002. She moved to the Netherlands in 2004, where she has several years’ experience in the adaptation of global marketing and advertisement campaigns to local markets.
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of GALA.