Translating video games is not child’s play

Translating video games is not child’s play. Yes, you read that right. Even if you are passionate about video games you should understand that translating them is no pantomime. A while ago, the story about the translation of Mother 3 into Spanish by a well-known player of the game, offered to the manufacturer for free, went viral. Yes, you read that right: a free translation of a best-selling product.

Regrettably, this is not an isolated incident. Video game fans who speak a bit of English are continually, somewhat altruistically, translating the contents of games into their mother tongue. While this may help the thousands of Spanish players who don’t speak English to get more out of the game, as always there is another side to the coin: an amateur video game translation will never have the professional quality that only the translation services of a specialised agency can offer.

Video game fans deserve a version of their favourite games in their own language, they deserve a professional translation that will greatly enrich their gaming experience. Think about the thousands of euros that these large multinational companies are saving by not doing something that they should do for their customers: use professional translation services that guarantee a good experience for their customers, regardless of the language they speak.

 

Here are some examples:

The Walking Dead

The adventures and misadventures of the zombies that were such a hit on television quickly became favourites among national and international gamers. Let’s take a look at the supposedly Spanish translation that Spanish fans woke up to one day. A couple of classics:

– “Es medio pendejo. Perdonen mi grosería”.

– “Usted ha muerto”.

Do you think that in Spain we use the word “pendejo” a lot? Well, we don’t. Perhaps the translator had a bad day, or most likely thought that Madrid was the capital of Mexico as that is where they use it. And the form of address? With the exception of some Spanish communities like the Canary Islands, for a long time, and I mean a very long time, the use of “usted” instead of the more informal “tu” has been restricted to serious, academic, brainy, stuffy environments and would never ever be found in the sinister, funny environment created in such an  engaging video game as “The Walking Dead”.

Oblivion

The long-running role-playing game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is no stranger to this problem. If you have played the game, you will know that it’s famous for filling its screens with tons of text. It’s true, there are a lot of words, but that’s no excuse for the production company not investing a tiny percentage of the development budget in hiring a professional translation service to avoid such ridiculous translations as, for example:

– “Has encontrado a mi bienllamada hija” (You have found my well-named daughter).

– “Le hablaré de tus migrañas” (I will talk about your migraines).

– “Yes, estoy listo” (mixing Spanish and English words).

– “No hablar (Don’t speak). No hablar (Don’t speak). Solo tren (Only train)”.

 

Video game fans should stick to what they do best, playing the games; and professional translators should stick to doing what they do best, translating the games. Entrusting the translation of videogames to the professional translation services provided by specialised agencies should be a priority for these dream-making companies.