The Evolution of Game Localization Technology

Although everyone in the translation and localization industry knows that translations are not done using paper and pen or on Word documents, this might still be the image other people have in mind when they think about translation. Translation technologies have been evolving for decades, and with the introduction of machine learning and artificial intelligence, they will surely keep on evolving in the following years. This goes for the game localization industry as well; new technologies emerge each year, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and enhancing the efficiency and accuracy of localization processes.

The Truth Behind the Translation Process

So, if we are not using paper and pens, how are we really translating? Most of the time, the answer is computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools. Computer-assisted translation refers to the use of software to facilitate the translation process. This doesn’t mean the computer translates for us; the use of CAT tools does not necessarily include machine translation in the process. Computers are only there to assist human translators, offering a range of functionalities such as translation memory, terminology management, and real-time collaboration features.

In the game localization industry, these tools are indispensable. They help maintain consistency across complex projects, manage large volumes of text, and integrate cultural nuances seamlessly. As the gaming industry grows and becomes more globalized, the role of advanced localization technologies continues to expand.

machine translationHow Do CAT Tools Work?

You upload your document to your preferred CAT tool, and you see all the content in a single editing environment. Your source text is on the left, your translation is on the right, which makes it easy to complete the translation step by step. This streamlined workflow helps translators maintain consistency and focus.

One of the reasons why CAT tools are crucial in the translation process is translation memories. A translation memory is a “database that stores sentences, paragraphs or segments of text that you have translated before”. This allows us to use our previous translations, which speeds up the process and increases productivity. If a source segment has been translated in the past, the translation comes as a 100% match, and we can directly insert it into the translation. Even if only a part of the segment has been translated before and there is a similarity, we see the previous translation as a fuzzy match. This is useful in game localization since sometimes the rules of the game change. Let’s say you used to win 10 points for an attack, now you win 15 health points. Changing these would be pretty annoying if there were no translation memories.

Translation memories help maintain consistency across large projects, ensuring that recurring terms and phrases are translated the same way every time. This is extremely important for games, where consistency in terminology and style can significantly impact the player experience. For example, character names, special moves, and item descriptions need to be uniform throughout the game to avoid confusion.

Range of CAT Tools

When we say CAT tools, the scope is actually quite big: it encompasses translation memory tools, spell checkers, grammar checkers, terminology managers, concordancers, project management software, etc. Each of these tools plays a vital role in the localization process, ensuring that translations are not only accurate but also consistent and contextually appropriate.

Spell checkers and grammar checkers help maintain the quality of the translation by catching errors that might be overlooked. Terminology managers and concordancers ensure that specialized terms and phrases are used correctly and consistently throughout the game. Glossary creation is important in game localization for consistency especially if the game has a lot of content and gets updates regularly. A well-maintained glossary includes key terms, character names, item descriptions, and other game-specific vocabularies, ensuring that the same terms are used uniformly across all game content.

Project management software integrated with CAT tools helps in tracking the progress of localization projects, managing deadlines, and coordinating between different translators and editors. This ensures that the project stays on schedule and meets quality standards.

Integration of Machine Translation in Game Localization

Many modern CAT tools are equipped with machine translation engines, which can provide draft translations that human translators can then edit and polish. While machine translation alone is not sufficient for high-quality game localization, it can speed up the process when used as part of a CAT tool. Integrating MT into the translation process can also be cost-effective, reducing the time and resources needed for large-scale localization projects.

Now with the introduction of LLMs and artificial intelligence, game localization technologies are changing again. Developers are trying to focus more on the automation of the process, but we still highlight the importance of human touch. We will be looking into this subject in another blog since we want to keep this one in the confines of “traditional” game localization technologies. 

In conclusion, the evolution of translation and localization technologies has transformed the way we approach language services, debunking the outdated notion of pen-and-paper translations. In the game localization industry, CAT tools are indispensable allies, empowering translators to navigate complex projects with ease while maintaining consistency and cultural relevance.

Written by
Ecenaz Batur
Marketing Specialist

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