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

(source :

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

https ://

A Beacon In a Sea of Clients

Even though becoming a freelance translator is synonymous with freedom, it also involves somewhat of an instability. Every freelance translator fears not having (enough) clients. This fear is even more present when one has just graduated from school and is faced with diving into the working world.

So what should you do ?

The answer is simple : canvassing.


Messages in a bottle

Even though it seems like a basic thing, the first step of canvassing is sending emails.

The issue lies in this method’s rate of success : for every 25 emails sent, how many will be read at all ? How many of them will be saved ? How many will lead to employment ?

The answer fluctuates between hearing back from possible clients and nothing at all.

In her book The Freelance Content Marketing Writer, Jennifer Goforth Gregory tries to answer these questions to help translators approach canvassing calmly : they shouldn’t be afraid of quantity. If the number of answers is low, they just need to send more emails. According to her own experience, getting at least one positive answer for every 50 emails and at least one client for every 100 emails is doable. As such, it can lead to a pretty astounding number of emails. However, translators should remember that this is only a point of reference : it is possible to find clients quickly but they shouldn’t give up and keep at it, even if a good number of their emails remain unanswered.

How many clients ?

Many translators think that anywhere between 20 to 30 clients is enough, but they shouldn’t stop there. Given the nature of the job, it is crucial that translators keep canvassing at the pace of one or two emails a day in order to maintain some leeway. Building up their client base takes time and for every client lost translators should double their efforts with canvassing. This holds even more true for newcomers : the first few weeks of being freelance should mostly revolve around establishing contact.

Managing their image

There can be several reasons as to why your emails remain unanswered. It is very important to check their content and the way the email, the resume, or cover letter was written. Despite how tedious it might be, systematically tailoring your emails to each client can prove to be effective. Translators should also remain aware of what is possible for them : limiting themselves to only a few domains can be another reason why they find few clients.

To conclude, to be a freelance translator is to be a driving force in your own success, or at least, your visibility. Even if the main goal is getting clients, becoming an « option for a future translation » is just as important. Canvassing is a crucial phase for any freelance translator and can be a source of anxiety. There aren’t any risks at offering your services, so dive in !

Clément Lagarde

Revissed by Fanchon Morin

Translated by Céline ECHILLEY


Source  : http ://

How to Properly Choose a Sworn Translator

Every year, a growing number of French natives decide to move abroad. If you have also made that choice, your receiving country’s civil service can ask for a number of required documents, such as a birth, marriage or divorce certificate. If the country does not speak French, one issue remains : you need these documents translated. Even if you consider yourself bilingual, you cannot translate these documents yourself. Any translator won’t be able to do it : a sworn translator is required.


Credit :

What is a sworn translator ?

A sworn translator will perform a certified translation of any of your documents and will guarantee its legal value. Not everyone can pretend to be a sworn translator. In France, sworn translators are recognized as judiciary experts by courts. They are required to obtain a master’s degree and to have a solid working experience before they can present themselves in Court. They are also required to have a clean criminal record.

Each region’s Court of Appeals establishes a directory of every sworn translator, which you are free to consult if you ever find yourself in need of one.

How should you proceed ?

Once you have found a skilled sworn translator, don’t hesitate to ask for a sample of their work. If everything seems in order, you can ask for a quote. The translator establishes a price depending on the number of pages in the document (each page can be billed between $45 and $136 – rate for the 12/4/18) and the language pair. The rarer the pair, the more expensive the translation becomes.

Once a price has been agreed upon and the translation is finished, the latter needs to be legalized. The legal validation process – also called an apostille depending on the country which have signed this global convention – certifies that the documents are authentic. It is one of the sworn translator’s prerogatives.

Indeed, the translator’s stamp and signature will both appear of the original document and its translated copy. After this, they need to be validated by the town hall, the chamber of commerce or a notary.

What if you are in a hurry ?

If you do not wish to worry about all these formalities, the easiest solution would be to contact a translation agency. Currently, there are agencies which operate online and to which you can directly send your documents in a PDF format. They will then find a sworn translator for you, even though it will cost you more.

Dorian Baret

Translated by Céline ECHILLEY