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How to become a professional video game translator

how to become a game translator

A video game translator is a professional translator with specific skills and a passion for gaming. But how does the job of a traditional translator differ from that of a video game translator?

What does a video game translator do?

Video game translators have the (tricky) task of making video games accessible to players who don't speak the language used in the original game.

You might think that all there is to do is translate the video game interface (buttons, instructions, equipment inventory, and menus) and character dialogue.

However, video games are cross-media products. They exploit the potential of text-based communication, and audio and video, to fully immerse players in the story they are “experiencing”.

Therefore, translating a video game requires translators to understand how to best adapt content to meet the needs of different media formats. For example, video game translators must translate character dialogue so it can be dubbed for video sections. They also need to create subtitles so that players can enjoy content with the audio on mute.

Video games are cultural products deeply rooted in contemporary pop and “geek’ culture. As a result, they contain references to cultural products specific to their niches, such as books, comics, and previous video games.

Therefore, good video game translators need to be able to place the product they are translating within a complex system of cultural references. Failing to do so can result in translators becoming the enemy of a community of video gamers, causing the product to flop, which does not reflect well on the creator.

Finally, video games are usually launched on the market with a major advertising campaign. Translators must translate this campaign per the guidelines on translating commercial texts. The task is often entrusted to the team that translated the actual video game itself.

Tips for becoming a video game translator

Instead of talking about translation, it would be more accurate to talk about video game localisation. To render these products available to gamers around the globe, you should be familiar with previous video game translations and be able to correctly transpose aspects of the source culture into the target language.

Doing so guarantees players an experience that aligns with the original version.

What do you need to study to become a video game translator?

Having a degree in languages or a certificate demonstrating high proficiency in foreign languages is the first step to working in this field.

However, to understand how to translate video games, you need to be an experienced and passionate video gamer. The reason is simple: only people who have bought, played and compared these products over time clearly understand what works and what doesn't. This knowledge is required to ensure video players have a satisfying, engaging, and smooth experience on all levels.

Eurotrad entrusts its video game translation service to experienced translators who are true fans of contemporary geek culture. As a result, our translations are always accurate, fluent, and engaging.

Redazione Eurotrad

November 28, 2022

Redazione Eurotrad

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