Spanish Video Game Localization : A Thorn in The Translator’s Side

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Localization is really popular among young translators. Many of them are drawn to video game translation, which encompasses specific challenges going far beyond those encountered by a “regular” audiovisual localizer. Indeed, while working on the subtitles, lip-synching and other challenges linked to transcreation ; video game localizers need to be pragmatic and allow the player to easily connect with the virtual environment which the game offers.

As such, localizers need to become masters at choosing the right words. Even though there are a lot of articles on the topic of video game localization in French, this article will focus on the specificities of Spanish video game localization.


The main issue when it comes to localization in Spanish (whether it is in video games or cinema) lies in the many variations of the Spanish language all over the world. Besides the official languages –Castilian and Catalan– there exist numerous dialects spoken in Spain alone. If you add up all the terminological and phonetic variations across the whole of Latin America, you might start understanding how big of a challenge offering localization to the whole Spanish-speaking market can be.

Many audiovisual localization agencies work with a norm based on Spanish spoken in Latin America, mainly Mexican Spanish, in order to make the language as neutral and reach as many Spanish-speaking individuals as possible while limiting the cost of the localization process. For the majority of Castilian-speaking natives, the “LatAm” (standing for Latinoamerican) version speaks to their childhood. In fact, many cartoons have been localized in the same way for years. LatAm doesn’t faze Spanish-speaking natives, since they tend to find it more direct and informal, which fits cartoons well.

However, if you consider the struggle to identify to characters who speak with an accent and idioms which differ from yours, the need for a Castilian version for more “serious” audiovisual productions and for video games appealing to a more mature audience is understandable.

There are a couple of very good examples, such as the Spanish pronouns used when on a first name basis or not ; which can vary according to the country (“usted” is usually used in a very formal context, but in Colombia, it can be used when talking to your children). The terminological differences can also hinder your experience when playing a game. “Coger” can be used to code the action of “taking” or “picking up” an object in Spanish from Spain, but this choice might make a player from Argentina laugh, since it conveys a more sexual message in the country. They would rather use “agarrar” which means “catching” in Castilian.

The need for multiple Spanish versions when localizing a game seems obvious but in reality, it is rarely done. This year, when State of Decay 2 –a survival game in a zombie-filled post-apocalyptic world- was released, Spanish players felt as if they were considered as second class players when Microsoft chose to localize the game in Mexican Spanish only.

The tweet reads : “The final version of the Spanish cover for State of Decay 2 has leaked”Ironic title : “Was Not Translated 2”

The frustration of these players is understandable, especially when compared to the attentive work of some companies like Sony, who makes a point of offering rich multilingual and fully-dubbed versions of its games. The video game industry is still dominated by Sony and its PlayStation 4 while the sales of Microsoft’s Xbox One are stagnating. It was the opposite during the last generation of consoles.

Among other things, Microsoft has chosen to cut corners on its localization department to mitigate the situation. However, without an effort from the American giant, Spanish players are less inclined to spend their money on Microsoft’s games and “it’s a vicious circle”. Spanish players stay away from LatAm versions and a lot of them prefer to play the original version instead, as it was the case with the Halo franchise, even though it featured a fully-dubbed version. Microsoft seems to be heading into a dead-end and the situation will not improve unless the company is willing to really listen to its customers. Since gaming remains an industry first and foremost, profitability remains a priority for the American publisher, who keeps wondering : “is it worth it ?”

Maxime Cicurel

Translated by Céline ECHILLEY

El drama del doblaje de los videojuegos se aviva con State of Decay 2

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Which Subtitle Language is best for Your YouTube Videos ?

Since its inception, YouTube has become a powerful communication tool used by both individuals and professionals. It has enabled many users to earn money by making videos full-time. Maybe you also want to get started ? You must bear in mind many different criteria to be a successful YouTuber and video subtitling is one of them. While videographers generally target an audience that speaks their language, bear in mind that on average, two-thirds the length of a video’s viewing session is generated by a user living in a different country. So how can you adapt your YouTube videos for an international audience ?


Since a few years ago, Youtube has offered the possibility to enable automatic captions on your YouTube videos. They are often used to increase the accessibility of your videos and can sometimes be very useful in understanding the overall meaning of a video. Automatic captions are available for the following languages : Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. They are generated thanks to speech recognition technology and machine learning algorithms, but the quality is not necessarily always perfect.

This is practical for individuals who do not speak the same language as their viewers, but you also have to think of the deaf and hard of hearing for whom these subtitles are helpful. These automated machines do not always accurately transcribe what is said in the video. Some people might, therefore, be unable to enjoy the entire content and the quality of the video. This can reduce the popularity of a videographer and represents a particular risk to a company’s image should their video contain errors in the captions.

If you want your videos to have good quality subtitles without seeking the services of translation professionals, you can manually add them or allow members of the YouTube community to contribute to the translation or the transcription of your content. When the content is submitted by the community, you can check, modify, publish, report or reject it. Users can also check the proposed subtitles, which will be automatically published once they have been revised enough.

The best solution, especially if you publish commercial content, is to pay for a professional transcription or translation. YouTube suggests a list of providers. You can compare rates and order translations and transcripts from them. Once the transcription or translation is complete, you are notified by email and the translations are automatically added to your videos.

Avatar Anne-Claire Nourian

Source : http ://




Translated by Sonia Ahamada

Dubbing in Forgotten Countries ?

“If we go to the movies, we’re definitely watching the movie in the original language”. Put your hands up if you have never heard someone say those words. Today, it is increasingly common to see movies, series, and documentaries in their original language. Subtitles are no longer only for the deaf and hard of hearing. For most people, having to read subtitles is a small price to pay to enjoy the authenticity of an audiovisual piece of work. While this trend will surely continue, another suffers greatly as a result.


Through the Looking Glass

Dubbing, which involves replacing the original language of a work with the language of the country where the distribution takes place, is today a pervasive practice. However, its popularity has somewhat declined in recent years. The poor quality of voice-overs and the fact that the piece often loses its authenticity are the major arguments made by moviegoers to discredit dubbing. Despite this, dubbing does have its advantages. It allows you, for example, to be able to concentrate fully on what is happening on the screen rather than having to simultaneously read and follow the action. The distraction of having to read subtitles is even more pronounced if the viewer is not familiar with the original language of the piece.

Is the Impossible Possible ?

Despite its decreasing popularity, dubbing remains a necessary and largely popular art for some people. Children, in particular, cannot read before a certain age and dubbing is essential to them. In other words, it would be absurd to imagine the total disappearance of this audiovisual technique. It is certainly still too popular for this to actually happen. Nevertheless, it is undeniably in decline. Although its presence is ensured in the coming years, will dubbing gradually make way for subtitling as the standard audiovisual practice ?

Avatar Donovan Chevalier


Texte source : http ://




Translated by Sonia Ahamada

Next generation : YouTube’s Automatic Audiovisual Translation

Having an automatic subtitling and transcription system, YouTube is well equipped to internationalize its videos…

YouTube was created in 2005 and was soon after bought by Google in 2006. This online video host is used by billions of internet users worldwide. To make the most of its communication and broadcasting power, YouTube is equipped with some form of modern audiovisual translation system : automatic subtitling. But can we truly rely on this system ?


Very easy to activate and deactivate, YouTube’s automatic subtitles are not the work of a translator or a subtitler. With the unceasing evolution of technology, our computers are becoming “smart”. By means of voice recognition, our computers are able to generate transcriptions and even instant translations. Though this system is quite practical, the quality cannot be guaranteed since a host of factors can hinder the proper function of the computer. The quality of the automatic subtitling can vary due to the quality of the sound in the video, the speaker’s accent, external noises that interfere with the sound clarity along with a number of other factors to the point where the subtitle no longer has any meaning.

Nevertheless, automatic subtitling should not be confused with customized subtitling integrated in videos by the owners, and in which case can be quite reliable. This is the case for TED Talks conference videos. The subtitling of these videos is done by voluntary translators subjected to quality control procedures to ensure the quality of the work before publication.

In conclusion, automatic subtitling can turn out to be useful when it comes to understanding the meaning of a video. Despite the errors, you can understand the main message of the video, which is the essential thing. However, it’s best not to rely on this tool if you are in need of an impeccable translation or transcription.

Source : http ://




Translated by Sheneil Ellis

Interpreters and Translators – Their Critical Role in the Face of the Migrant Crisis

At the core of the migrant crisis, the demand for volunteer translators and interpreters with rare language pairs is considerable. Among the asylum seekers who arrive in Greece, 80 % are Syrians or Afghans and speak Arabic or Farsi respectively. Within the group of Syrians, who usually come from a middle class background, at least one person speaks English. Afghan asylum seekers, for their part, often come from the countryside, and do not know how to communicate in any language other than their own. The remaining 20 % do not speak any of these two languages : the organization Translators Without Borders (TWB) receives demands for Kurdish, Urdu, Dari, Pashto, Tigrinya and even French. These are languages which are simply not spoken by the volunteers in the field. Continue reading Interpreters and Translators – Their Critical Role in the Face of the Migrant Crisis