If you live in the United States, you may have picked up on an unusual trend regarding the dates on which video games are made available to the public.
The United States of America is often given access to video games developed in the United States several weeks before other regions of the globe. It’s possible that you’ve never given much consideration to it before, but there’s a solid reason why.
Enter: Game Localization
The process of preparing video games for distribution in various countries and regions of the globe is known as “game localization.” Different regions across the world not only have their own unique languages and customs, but also their own unique approaches to censorship and content legislation.
The process of “game localization” enables producers to modify the gameplay experience so that it is more engaging for the specific target audience. What exactly does it involve?
The process of “game localization” encompasses everything from the obvious, such as translating the game into new languages, to the less obvious, such as removing elements from a game that other cultures might not tolerate in their entertainment content. For example, translating the game into new languages is one of the more obvious aspects of “game localization.”
How about we go into the nitty-gritty?
Censorship and Those Affected by Culture Shock
Let’s get the blood and guts out of the way first. In the United States, it is not unheard of for a video game to have a setting that allows the player to adjust the level of gore and blood that is shown during gameplay.
It’s possible that you’ll have the choice of making the blood a greenish tint or removing it completely. The point is that gore may be included in games in the United States, and the ESRB rating that corresponds to it is simply assigned to the game.
However, in the United States of America it is against the law to sell a game with a rating of M (which stands for “Mature”) to anybody under the age of 17 (and in certain situations 18).
There are other regions of the globe where content classified “M” for violence may not be allowed at all. It’s common knowledge that Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea keep a careful eye on that particular aspect of game material.
Game makers need to be aware of what kinds of material are appropriate for certain regions in order to avoid the release of games that include too violent content.
Then, rather than offering alternatives to limit the amount of blood and gore in the game, they might completely remove the option from the Australian and New Zealand versions of the game.
Why is it necessary to do so?
In order to break into the worldwide market, you will need to modify your gaming experience so that it caters to the preferences and prerequisites of players all over the world. Why, do you ask?
Imagine for a moment that you are playing your most beloved video game on a system of the most recent generation. We’ll use Fallout 4 as an example since we want to steer clear of playing popular games on consoles and computers.
As you go through the game set in the United States (in the actual world, not the wasteland), you will notice that the English spoken by the characters and how they interact with one another is spot on.
You understand each and every one of the missions that your Pipboy gives you, both grammatically and otherwise.
All of the communicated text is received exactly as it was intended, and you are never confused about what it is that you are supposed to do next (aside from the indecision that comes with the massive scope of games like this, where you are rendered helpless by the overwhelming number of options available!). It’s the best possible world.
Imagine for a moment that you are a native speaker of Brazilian Portuguese and that you currently reside in Brazil. You will get a copy of Fallout 4 in the US format. Your level of engagement will dramatically drop as a result.
You won’t have any comprehension of any of the intricacies that make the game such a joy to play in its many iterations.
You will be able to go through missions with the assistance of the Pipboy quest markers; but, it is less likely that you would have a sense of accomplishment upon finishing these objectives.
As you fit together the pieces of the desolate jigsaw, you won’t have any comprehension of any of them. Because of this, the localization of games is quite crucial.
It gives players from all over the globe the opportunity to experience the game in the manner in which it was designed to be played, in a manner that they are able to comprehend and value.
What This Implies for Those Who Design Video Games
As was said before, game creators who are interested in releasing their creations on a worldwide scale need to be aware of the many censorships and complex content restrictions that apply in the various countries that they want to sell their games in.
These limitations may have a variety of effects on the designers who use them.
In most cases, there are two distinct approaches that might be used with regard to an international distribution. There is a way known as simultaneous shipment, and there is also a process known as post-gold localization.
The former strategy is one that a lot of AAA games choose to use. Due to the fact that the localization process (which includes translation, foreign voiceover, and content revisions) cannot begin until the game is in its last four months of production, it requires a significant amount of advance preparation.
This indicates that the process of localization is occurring concurrently with the manufacturing of the main market version being carried out in the home stretch.
The term “post-gold localization” refers to the process by which a video game is modified after it has already been made available in its native market but before it is shipped to additional overseas countries.
The process of localization adds some additional labour for the creators of video games. The most effective strategy is to maintain organisation by partitioning the components into those that will need modifications during localization and those that will not.
The majority of the time, studios will staff their operations with localization project managers. The Project Manager’s responsibility is to ensure that the localization process runs well in all aspects.
If you’re interested, have a look at Gamelocalization.net, which provides a more extensive list of problems associated with internationalisation. Here’s a possibly beneficial PDF with some extra recommendations to get you started.
It is quite probable that the amount of work that goes into releasing a video game on a worldwide scale has never occurred to you. It is understandable that a video game would need localization, but why would the content also need to be modified? Insanity!
Correctly localising a game requires more work, but if you have a fantastic product that players in other countries will appreciate, it might be a worthwhile undertaking for you to put in the extra effort.