Censorship in Video Game Localization
A news story came across my digital desktop this morning about censorship in video game localization, and I figured I’d share my thoughts. Partly because I generally tend to be impartial to either side of the whole censorship argument, but also because I needed a trending topic and this was perfect!
The incident in question comes from the English localization of a Japanese game. The game developer was trying to have some fun with the name of one of their in-game companies, kind of like changing the name of a car manufacturer from Ford to Bored and, without knowing what it meant, used the initials KKK for the name of their company. It would be like the joke here that to speak Spanish, you just have to add the letter O to the end of every word and have a character say something was “Cool-o.” Now, they were not aware of the reference and, when told what it meant, they changed the name of the company to something else. The guy in charge of localization thought that it was best to leave the name for the “shock value” and also ‘because it really is very “Japan”’ to use names like that unintentionally (or intentionally) – which I have also seen during my years in South America.
Now, if I may be so bold, I would say that this is probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard in all my years of translating and localizing video games. That is my personal opinion and I will try to leave it at that since it doesn’t really contribute anything else of value. That being said, I do think that this brings up some interesting points in regards to challenges faced in the localization process and censorship.
Censorship, as defined by Wiki – Praise the Wiki \[T]/ – is “the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information that may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions.”
I would like to present you with two questions:
- Does the removal of an unintentional reference to an “objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient” subject by the game developer count as censorship? And
- Do all games deserve the title of art – pushing us, as localization experts, to fight for their preservation?
I’ve mentioned a project of mine in other posts where I was editing the English translation of a Korean game. The translation was very clearly not done by native speakers and there were some questionable word choices. One example would be the use of the word “penetration” as a reference to sneaking into an enemy base. It’s not exactly a huge deal, but my immature mind went straight to the gutter when I came across those lines of text. While you can penetrate a base, or its defenses, I felt that it wasn’t the best word in this context and changed it to infiltrate after consulting with the client.
Did I censor the game?
I believe that translators have the responsibility to advise our clients when something like this comes up in a text. They need to know if something could potentially cause problems down the road and I wonder what kind of legal repercussions could come from not telling them. It is then dependent on the client to decide whether or not they want to keep the text as-is or, and hold on to your chairs for a second, localize it so that it fits the target demographic better.
Again, this is my own opinion and I won’t be mean to anyone that disagrees, but I see translation as adapting a text from one language to another, while localization is adapting a text from one culture to another. In this case, the source text/culture did not share the same meaning, the translated meaning was an accident, and I believe that editing it was the correct choice.
Which leads us to the next question: when is it right to leave in, or even add, offensive text?
I would advise that you first have a very clear line of communication with the developer and a deep understanding of what the goal of the game is. There are games that are made artistically and talk about very difficult subjects, such as That Dragon Cancer or the Mafia series, where you would not want to edit any of the painful or difficult moments out because they’re vital to the story that’s being told. Mafia III has strong roots in the racial prejudices in the US during that time and censoring out offensive language, like calling the main character some very offensive things, would take away from the story being told. And then we have Flappy Bird. Before drawing that line in the sand, like our dear translator in this story has done, I would make sure that I’m working on a work of art and not an idle clicker. Though Idle Miner Tycoon is far deeper than most clickers. Ha! I made a pun 😊
I think that leaving something like a KKK reference for the sake of an obscure joke isn’t vital to the story being told – especially since it wasn’t even intentional.
Once more, make sure that you have that communication with the developer and remember that it’s their story we’re telling, not our own. Our job is to share their story with our people. But, that’s just my opinion.
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How to rank your Proz.com profile – or most other translator directory profiles for that matter…
Today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite SEO things: PARASITE RANKINGS!!! Bhuaahahahhaaaaaaa
Behold, the Majestic Tape Worm plushie
A parasite ranking is when you take a page from another website and optimize it so that it appears in the search results for your keyword. There are a lot of ways to do this, the most common of which is creating content on a web 2.0 site (a website that allows/encourages users to create site content instead of creating it themselves), like WordPress.com, Blogger, Weebly, Wix, TheOpenMic.co, YouTube, and in this example, Proz.com.
The reason that we do this is that websites gain authority over time and with strong backlinks. These sites happen to be much stronger than one that we build fresh, so they’ll appear faster and higher in search results. The downside is that we don’t have very much control over the site if any at all. Also, you’re limited to the content that the host site allows. Blogger is very open and works great, but Proz only lets you really mess around with the “about” section of your profile. You can’t add blog posts, new content or anything else. There’s one more little part of the backlink and authority thing I mentioned: the kinds of websites that provide backlinks will influence what kind of keywords the site will rank for. You probably won’t see Proz appear if you’re searching for glue factories, but it will appear for anything and everything related to translation – simply because those are the backlinks, the anchor text that’s being used, and the type of traffic that it receives. That’s why we’re using Proz in this example.
Now, if you plan to use a different platform, you want to confirm two things before you get started: First, you want to see what kind of metrics the site has. For this, I would recommend copying the site URL and going to majestic.com. It’ll show you the site Trust Flow, which represents the quality of backlinks it has, and Citation Flow, which represents the number of backlinks it has.
Stick the link to your own website in there and see how it looks… Here’s www.tagtranslations.com
See the difference? They have almost 2 million backlinks and I have 5. Proz kicks my butt, metrically speaking, so they’re going to rank WAY higher than I would for the same search terms. If using a different platform, you want to make sure that their metrics are high enough to be competitive. Basically, the higher these numbers are, the better.
The other thing that you want to double check is that the profile page that you create is indexed by Google. Some website owners know that people are using their sites this way and don’t want it to continue, so they tell Google that they don’t want certain pages to appear in the search results. They do this by marking those pages as “no index” which simply means that those pages are not added to Google’s index of websites. We can see if a site indexes these pages or not with a simple Google search. Go to Google and type in the following: “site:yoururlhere.com” obviously, you replace the “yoururlhere” with your URL… right there. Proz would look like this: “site:proz.com” or my site would be “site:tagtranslations.com.” This will show all the pages of the site that appear in Google’s index. If you want to see specific pages, you simply paste the full URL. To see if my Proz profile is indexed, I enter: “site:proz.com/translator/1280944”
We want to make sure that the page in question appears in the results. You might see a lot of pages, or just one or two. As long as the one you’re looking for is in the top few results, you’re good. Technically speaking, if it shows up, then you know that it’s been indexed. This also happens to be a way that we check for website penalties. If there are a lot of other websites that show up before the one we want, then the site may be penalized and your parasite ranking is useless. Google normally shows up #1, so don’t worry about that. If you think your site has been penalized email me at Triston@utahseo.ninja and I’ll take a look.
Now, I know that’s a lot of legwork, but if you use Proz, you don’t have to worry about any of this because I just did all the work for you.
Almost 800 words into this post and we haven’t actually done anything to our Proz profile yet…
Let’s look at those search results again
There are two parts here that we want to pay attention to:
Our name and our description
Our names are pretty easy to figure out. If you’re using a fake name or some kind of nickname on Proz, I would advise that you use your real name. This is a business and people need to be able to find you if you expect to get any work. You can use your business name if you prefer. I see a lot of people saying that they worry about stalkers or whatever. But, if you expect to find clients like this, putting “Don Trisquite de la Mancha” as my username is not going to help me. Would you work with a company called “PuppyLover777”?
Anyways, ranting aside, you’ll notice that the site description, the part that appears under the name and URL, comes straight from my About Me section
That little snippet is something that you usually edit separately, but in the case of most of these parasite profiles, it takes the description from your “about me” section. Now, what we put there is very important. In fact, I need fix mine because it could be better. You want to make sure that the search term that you’re targeting appears at the beginning of your about me and that you support your claim with some enticing information. I would change mine to read “Spanish to English translation. Legal, Business, IT, and Immigration translator in Utah | 10 years of experience” You only have so much space to use there, so be efficient and direct. You only have 150 something characters to convince your client that they should click on your link and not someone else’s.
If you need help finding a search term to target you can hire someone to do the keyword research for you.
This whole process is called on-page optimization. You do the same thing to your own website, or video, or whatever. This is typically enough to rank for low to semi-competitive keywords. I would suggest targeting a language pair + location keyword (Spanish to English translator Utah) since that’s typically easier and you can take over an entire area. You may get fewer clients at first, but you’ll build up a reputation for being THE BEST TRANSLATOR EVER and you’ll get referrals. If you get work outside your language pair or expertise, you can outsource. We’ll talk about that in another post.
If you’re feeling devious, target a language pair + industry (Spanish to English video game translator). It might be more competitive, but I’m about to show you how to beef up your parasite. This is great because you can find clients that are specifically looking for you and your services. They just won’t be local.
Now, ranking for more competitive keywords like this is possible, but it’ll cost you some money. You can take your profile and send additional backlinks to it. This is technically a gray area in Google’s terms of service. They don’t want us to “buy links” however, you can buy an article on another website and they’ll place a link to your parasite. The risk, if you want to call it that, is that you purchase a lot of poor quality links in an attempt to game the system, you could receive a penalty on your site. Now, Proz is such a HUGE site that even if you were to do something crazy/stupid and buy 20,000 links, it probably wouldn’t actually hurt anything. It’s a question of ratios, and Proz has almost 2 million backlinks. An extra 20,000 would only be 1% of what it already has. Hardly enough to end the world. If you were to attempt this, I recommend buying your articles from Konker.io. Sure, there are other platforms, but if you wouldn’t buy a translation from Fiverr, why would you buy support for your website?
A common question related to all of this is if the site owner will be upset that we’re using the site in this way, especially if we decide to purchase additional links to help it rank better. The short answer is no. Those backlinks actually make the site stronger as a whole, not just your one page, so they’ll grow and rank better as a result – and that usually means more money. The additional traffic is helpful for them as well.
The last thing that I wanted to mention is that these techniques are not instantaneous. Depending on the site, it could take anywhere from an hour to a couple months for Google to find your new profile or to find any updates that you’ve made to that profile. You can help speed it along by going to Google and typing “submit URL to google” in the search bar. Copy/paste the URL of your profile, confirm that you’re not a robot, and press confirm. It’s significantly faster to do it this way, but still not instant.
Doing this for the right search term can bring a lot of traffic and new clients to your business. Like everything else in business, you need to set aside the time and resources necessary to complete this process and to allow time for it to grow. Make sure to keep your eyes on your analytics to see what’s working best – giving you the best return on investment.
Pro Tip: make sure to include a link to your own website on these profiles. They will count as backlinks and your site will get stronger as a result. Not all of them will work, but I explained all of that in this post here.
That’s how it works, now go do it. No one’s going to do it for you… Well, you could get someone to do it for you, but you’ll have to pay them.
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Let’s talk about blogs for a bit. I came across a post where some folks were, essentially, saying “hahaha, people still suggest that you create a blog in order to find translation work, what bobos, hahaha.”
Now, I can’t fault them for having this belief, I think that the concepts and goals behind content marketing aren’t usually communicated, or at least not communicated clearly, and that makes it seem silly. However, and before I get too far into this, I would like to say that we’re not blogging in the typical sense of the word. We’re not writing about our daily lives, our pets, or anything like that, we’re writing professional articles with specific audiences in mind and giving them a clear call to action. So, in an effort to explain why you should have a website and blog if you want to grow your business online, I present the following:
What the frack is Content Marketing?!
Content Marketing is the idea of creating a relationship with your client by creating articles, videos, or whatever that contains information that they consider valuable and helps to establish you as an expert, or at least someone that has a good idea of what they’re talking about.
Pro Tip: it helps if you really are an expert or have some idea of what you’re talking about.
This content is then presented or made available to your target audience, typically on a website, where they can engage with it, comment on it, and, most importantly, complete the Call to Action. The call to action, or CTA, is the task that you want your reader to perform after interacting with your content.
A good example would be a video game trailer. Think about it, they show you this cool video with scenes from the game, maybe a voice over telling you all about it, trying to make it look cool, and at the end, they say something like “pre-order now at GameStop” or whatever. They’re showing you content that you find interesting, the game footage, which they’ve adapted for a specific audience, like, imagine a CoD style video for a game like Candy Crush, with the call to action at the end “give us money now!” That’s a very simple example, but you could also look at something like an AMA with the devs, a behind-the-scenes interview or something, as long as it has that call to action.
So, how do we do that with translation? The easiest path would be to create something about how companies in your industry are benefiting from translation and then invite the reader to contact you for a consultation where you offer them translation services. However, you can write about challenges in your industry, new tools, techniques, or trends, or even people. Just remember what your website’s goal is and focus your content on that goal.
Now, let’s talk about Google for a minute (most search engines work in the same way, it’s just easier to type “Google” than “most search engines”). The first thing that you should know about Google is that people use it to find things by performing what we in the industry call a “search.” These “searches” usually denote some sort of intent on the part of the “searcher” to acquire information provided by the “searchee” … maybe I’ve been translating too many legal documents lately.
So, your customer, a game developer, hops on Google and does a search for “video game translator” (180 average searches per month). Google then goes to its index, which is a list of all the websites on the internet, or at least the public ones, and tries to determine which of those websites provides the best information about “video game translator.” I like to compare this to a robot trying to find the best can of corn in a pantry full of tin cans. There are 1,220,000 results for “video game translator,” so we’re talking about over 1.2 million cans of corn. Robots can’t eat corn (that I’m aware of), and so it can’t really judge on its own which corn is the best. What it can do is read the label, the ingredients, look at the picture, open it up and look inside, and see what other people that ordered the same thing have done in the past.
Your article and your entire website are a can of corn. Make sure that your article title is the main keyword (search term) that you want to target, that any tags you use are relevant to your content and that your post is actually about corn! If Google places your post in its search results and people click on it and then spend time reading it, Google will notice and think, “Hey! This is great stuff! People really like this! I’m going to recommend it again the next time someone uses that search term.” And your post will start to appear higher and higher in the search results. Higher rankings mean more traffic, and more traffic means more clients. If your content is really good then people will share it, they’ll mention it on their own websites, and argue about it on Twitter. Every time a link to your post is placed on another website or shared on certain social media platforms it creates something called a backlink. Google sees it and goes, “whoa, people really like this, I need to promote it even more!”
Don’t be fooled, Google is a Synth
And that’s basically how Google works. If you pick a good search term, people will be able to find your content and clients will find you. You can do the same thing with videos, images, and even maps. For more competitive search terms, you’re going to need some extra help. It’s a bit more complicated and you’re probably going to benefit most from simply hiring an SEO Ninja to work on your site.
Other Website Benefits
- While the main idea behind building a website, and adding a steady stream of new content to it is to capture that organic traffic, there are some side benefits to it as well.
- You can use your website as an online business card and portfolio.
- If you handle any type of document that’s fairly consistent, you can have clients pay you in advance for those translations. I do this for immigration paperwork.
- As backlinks are created for one of your articles, it strengthens your site’s overall metrics so that other articles will rank higher by default. You can also include links to those other articles and promote them as well.
- You get your own professional emails! No more email@example.com!
- Email lists! I’ll dedicate a whole post to email lists for translators. In short, it was one of the easiest ways to fill my schedule with new projects. Your CTA can be to sign up for a newsletter and you can capture emails addresses that way.
I hope that clarifies why we recommend blogging. It’s simply another way to help clients find you by creating valuable, shareable, and searchable content. You may notice that this blog is very similar to what I’ve talked about here. My target audience is the freelance translator that’s trying to find more work, especially those in video game localization. My CTA is typically for you to sign up for the email list, or in this case, I want you guys to start thinking about creating a blog. I have some follow-up posts that will explore the technical aspects in a bit more detail, but I want you to be able to make your own website or have someone make it for you, and find clients.
Here’s your call to action, folks. I have three options for you:
If you want a professional to build your website for you, sign up for my wife’s Websites for Translators beta tester program by clicking here: http://eepurl.com/cLj73v
If you want a super simple blog to see if you like it, check out my tutorial on Blogger here:
Or if you want an easy to use, drag and drop, website builder like what I used for my first blog, check out Weebly and my tutorials here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgAqFoQC3_lOfabdwJOrGleLDH2ETm8Vz
I also have a review of HostGator, my favorite website hosting provider, that you can check out.
Ok, you now know what to do, why you should do it, and how. Get to work.
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Here’s another reply to a question about how to find paid work translating on YouTube that turned into a long response (can you tell that get paid per word?).
What normally happens on YouTube when someone translates one of your videos is that you receive a notification saying, “this person just translated your subtitles” and they ask you to confirm the translation before it goes live. So, they know who provided the service. You can sometimes put a little snippet at the end of the video or description saying something like “Spanish translation provided by Triston Goodwin http://www.opl10nt9n.com” – just make sure it’s ok with the channel owner first. They’ll say yes, but it’s a good idea to ask.
Now, for smaller channels, the best bet is to find them and talk to them as a group. I personally joined a few Facebook groups and find a project or two a week, but they’re small channels with small budgets. You’ll also want to look at Reddit. Another option is to create your own channel and join a Multi-Channel Network (MCN) so that you can have access to creator forums. You could even offer a discount to all the channels in the MCN and become their preferred translator – thousands of clients! Again, all of this is intended to build relationships with your clients. Talk to them, learn about them, and subtlety offer your services – like in your forum signature. We want to provide value. We hear that a lot, but what it means is that we want to be a benefit for those around us, to make their lives easier. When they trust you, they’ll come to you for paid help. I would personally recommend looking for larger channels, those with between 100,000 and 500,000 channels are good options because that’s usually where they start receiving more offers for sponsorships and affiliate deals. They also tend to start growing faster at this point so they’re hungrier for more.
How YouTubers Make Money
I think it’s important to understand how a YouTube channel makes money in order to understand our role as translators and how we facilitate their growth and income. Prior to the “Ad-pocalypse” (which is occurring right now), a YouTube channel would make between $2 and $10 per thousand views (CPM). So, a tech channel, which is usually on the higher end of the CPM scale, can invest $200 in a translation as long as they get more 20,000 views on their videos from viewers in that language. They’ll make even more if they’re monetizing the video in any other way, like sponsorships or affiliate offers (like Amazon). These are especially common with gaming channels since the CPM is a bit lower, but you’re able to get significantly more views. But some viewers are worth more than others. Let’s say I upload a video and it gets 5,000 views. CPM on my own channel is a little north of the middle, so I make $30 from YouTube ad revenue. However, I also have an affiliate offer from a hosting company that’ll pay me $50 per new customer. If I have horrible conversions and only manage to convince 1% of people to buy hosting, that’s 50 people, I just made $2,500. Now, if I translate the title, description, tags, and subtitles of the video and I’m able to double that traffic, I could potentially double my revenue from that one video. For gaming, I could be getting paid per view by a developer, so more views mean more money, especially if those viewers become subscribers and I can bring them back for future videos. I could have an affiliate offer to purchase the game through a platform like the Microsoft Store. I probably won’t make $2,500 from 5,000 views as a gamer, but I’ll still make some money if I know how to monetize correctly.
I even have an example that I can show you. I made a video about cheap cell phones for Pokemon go. The video is almost a year old and has a little over 10,000 views and I made about $20 from ad revenue (though the system here estimates that I made $15).
But, if you look in the description, you’ll find several links to Amazon for the phone, some comparable phones, and accessories that you’d need and/or want in order to enjoy playing the game (highlighted in blue).
I made $20 from ads, but I also sold 20 cellphones, 40 cases, and 10 chargers from that one video. I made about $400. There’s a new tool out that suggests prices for shout outs (a brief mention of a company in your videos) and dedicated review videos. For this channel, they recommend that I charge $25 per shout out and $100 for a review. That means that I can make $20 from ads, $100 for the review, and another $400 from my affiliates over the course of the year. Now, how much would I need to spend to subtitle a 6-minute video with about 250 words between the title, description (183 words), and tags? Keep in mind that this is a small channel. I have 138 subscribers with around 4,500 views per month and it makes sense, financially, for me to pay for translation. Unfortunately, most smaller YouTube channels don’t know how to monetize like that, so focus on the mid-sized ones to get started.
How to Make Money Translating on YouTube
Those are the numbers behind the translation and why it’s valuable. Like I mentioned before, when the channel owner sees the notification from you and the increase in traffic and revenue because of it, they’ll want more. This is especially true for mid-sized channels (100,000-500,000 subscribers). Another option is to look at the translation agencies that have been added to the platform by YouTube (still in beta). Just doing a quick check, to subtitle a 45-minute live stream, translate the title, description, and tags, and get the subtitles in Spanish, I’m looking at between $875.09 and $1,018.71 coming from Tomedes, Latinlingua, Translated Srl, and Sfera Studios. I’ve only worked with Tomedes, so I can’t comment on the others, but I didn’t hate working with Tomedes. So, if you wanted to go the agency route, get in touch with them and show them a few of your examples, and make some money.
You could also simply make a page on your website dedicated to subtitling video game YouTube channels and get organic traffic. Or a blog post. I know some have been critical of the idea that blogging will find you customers, but the idea isn’t that the blog generates money, it’s that you’re constantly adding more content to your website in order to capture organic traffic from search engines, to capture people looking for a certain service that you just happen to offer. A blog is just an easy way to do that. I think that will require its own post. The important thing to look at is whether or not your clients are using search engines to find your services.
Here’s a quick look at the average monthly search volume for YouTube transcription: 730 searches per month
And video translator: 3,000 searches per month
It might be time for me to make a website for those keywords and outsource all the work… Anyways, it’s clear that there are companies and channels out there looking for this service.
A YouTube channel, which you can already see that a video appears on the first page of the search results for both search terms, is another great option. I’ll write another post on how blogs, websites, and even YouTube can and should be used to find new customers. I might even make it into a full tutorial and show how to make one from start to finish.
I hope that answers the question of how to find paid translation work on YouTube for you all. Let me know if you have any questions!
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This is a short follow-up to my last post on video game translation trends for 2017. Jane Davis had an interesting question about finding work as a video game translator that I thought would try to answer. She says:
I saw this as an opportunity to cause some trouble, so here we go!
There are some languages that are going to be harder to work in than others. Being an ES>EN translator myself, I’d put myself somewhere closer to the “developers throw money at me” than the “I’m pretty sure I’m the only person that speaks my language” side of the scale. There are some very skilled Spanish speaking developers out there, but most of them already speak a good deal of English (thanks a lot, CS:GO and LoL…) and only occasionally need a full translation of their game. So, how do you make money when the developers already speak your language? You speak it better 😉
Or you cheat.
First off, editing or adapting game text for certain regions can bring in some decent work and a good editor is always appreciated. In fact, that’s where most my income came from (before I started messing around with search engine optimization). I was also “randomly” invited to a TON of early access games, like The Elder Scrolls Online, a few World of Warcraft expansions (I might even be a NPC!), WildStar, and Star Wars: The Old Republic (I work on a lot of MMORPGs).
Now, for translation, I typically charge between $0.15 and $0.30 per word. For editing like this, I charge around $0.06 per word. While that’s significantly less money per unit, I can get through a text four or five times faster than I can with a translation – depending on the quality of the material. In the end, I still make money and the client has a clean translation for their game. So, that’s one way to get around source language problems as long as there’s enough demand for gaming in your target language.
Horror Story from the Battlefield
I was once working on editing a good-sized MMORPG from Korea. The NPCs often referred to another NPC, but the translators kept switching their pronouns around. In one sentence the character was male, then female, then back to male. Sometimes in the same sentence! Now, I don’t speak Korean, so the source text, even if I’d had access to it, wouldn’t have helped. I emailed my client and asked if they had any sort of directory or guide to the game that would identify the character’s sex. They didn’t. They asked the developer, never heard back from them. So, they paid me an extra three days’ worth of work to play through the game, find the NPC, and look at the character model to identify its sex. It was female, just in case you were wondering. I’m just glad that it was a human character or this story would be even longer! Praise the sun!
They also kept using “penetrate” instead of “infiltrate” whenever they had to sneak into an enemy base. Silly Korean translators.
Finding this kind of work is very similar to normal translation work – it’s all about building relationships with the developers. If you have a relationship with your developer, and they need help or know someone else that needs help, you’ll be at the top of their list. It’s just a question of having enough relationships with the right developers. You’ll also become one of the experts in your field, so clients will naturally come to you.
I would suggest making an account on gamasutra.com (don’t misspell that), which is a neat resource for those looking for work in the gaming industry and mention it in your LinkedIn profiles and website. Don’t forget to keep your eyes on the Facebook groups, either.
Now, to cause trouble…
I think it’s ok to translate into a language that isn’t your native language.
This baby is the funniest meme on the internet.
Now, I think that there are some very specific things that need to happen before this, so let me explain:
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, to be a good translator, and especially a good video game translator, you need to be able to understand two languages and communicate in two others. One pair is your source and target language, that one’s obvious. The second is your industry lingo in your source and target languages. We often criticize those that thing that simply speaking two languages is enough to qualify them as a translator. The same can happen here. Just because someone is a native speaker of the target language doesn’t necessarily mean that they are better qualified to translate something. An industry expert working in his or her 2nd language is almost always going to be better than a native that has no idea what they’re talking about. Like me trying to work on any medical texts. Additionally, I think that there are cases where having a deeper understanding of source text, its nuances, allegories, and so on, like a native speaker would have, leads to a better translation. I have translated games into Spanish. I also always have a native speaker editor double check everything for me. Heck, I do that with English translations, too.
In my opinion, the ideal setup for a translation would be to have two translators working on each project, a native speaker of the source to make it accurate, and a native speaker of the target to make it fluid and natural. You just miss out on too many opportunities otherwise. It’s also twice as expensive, so I understand why agencies don’t do it. My wife, from Argentina, used to work with me as a translator and together we were able to create some truly beautiful translations. Now she just wants to make websites for translators.
So, if you can only find work into your target language, find yourself a good editor that’s willing to help you out and make a team. Those projects can go both ways, too. Your partner edits your translation today, and tomorrow you do the same for them.
In regards the question about LocJam, while winning the competition is certainly a nice bit of bragging rights, I would argue that the most valuable part of the entire event is the experience that you obtain by translating an entire game. You don’t have to show your translations to your potential clients unless you want to, you can just tell them that you participate and talk about some of the things that you found interesting or how you overcame some challenge during the process.
I hope that helps, though. And I appreciate the question 😊
And, worst case scenario, we can always learn Korean and find work that way, right? I mean, how hard can it be?
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