All this time, we have been talking about how important localization is when it comes to video games. We talk about how game translation is not the same as game localization and that translation is not enough in video games. What if, in some cases, you need to go even beyond game localization? That’s where culturalization comes into play.
What is Culturalization?
Culturalization is pretty similar to video game localization but puts more emphasis on “culture” as the name suggests. Culturalization allows players to enjoy the game on a more meaningful and deeper level. Culturalized games should reflect all aspects of the target culture. Everything cultural should be included in this process, which means the linguists should be familiar with the history, geography, norms, and beliefs of the target culture.
While localization is more about the words and linguistic elements of the game, culturalization encompasses the non-linguistic components as well. Even the setting of your game can be changed during the culturalization process. Let’s say your game takes place in Los Angeles, and you want your game to be popular in France. You can change the setting to Paris if you’d like. You can also choose to alter minor things. It’s your decision to either go big with culturalization or keep it simple.
Culture can be extremely important in some countries, and it can even be considered holy. Although we don’t think about it often, culture impacts all aspects of our lives. The way we bond with other people, the TV shows that we watch, the food that we eat, etc. Before finalizing your culturalization strategy, you should take into consideration the markets you want to reach. Do they place great importance on culture? Would they be offended by your game? In some cases, you might not need to change anything depending on the market you want to enter. Yet in other cases, the absence of culturalization can be detrimental to your game and damage your company’s reputation.
Be Careful with These Components!
1- History: When entering new markets, try to be careful about historical sensitivities. For example, German players might not be too comfortable with Nazi-related elements in the game.
There can also be cases where one country doesn’t recognize a historical event while most countries do. If you want your game to be acceptable in that country, you cannot include the unrecognized historical event in your game.
2- Religion and Beliefs: More religious regions might not be okay with nudity, strong language, and violence. You risk backlash and an overall ban if you don’t adapt your game accordingly.
In China, for example, showing skeletons in a game cannot be accepted because it is disrespectful to the dead. As you can guess, skeletons are quite popular in games, so if you want to enter the Chinese gaming market, you need to take these limitations into consideration.
3- Ethnicity: Although your goal is to be sensitive towards different ethnicities, you might include stereotypes in your game that would offend your audience. You need to research thoroughly and get others to examine your game.
These are the reasons why it is extremely important to work with native linguists who know the target audience and preferably belong to that audience. No matter how proficient the linguists are in the target language, if they are not part of the target audience, you risk not adapting appropriately.
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