Video game Localization difficulties

Video game localization is a subject that’s constantly overlooked in the industry despite being the main reason why video games are so big these days. My digital artifact is a podcast that highlights the ins and outs of the localization industry. The main aim of this project is to inform and bring to light hidden or overlooked information about the industry.

The main reason I picked this topic to explore is because my goal is to one day join a localization team. There is so much talk regarding what it takes to be a game creator or how to become a game programmer but there is very little discussion regarding localization. To learn about the elusive industry, I took it upon myself to look into it. In doing so, I’ve learned much about it. The podcast is the fruits of my research.

As for why a podcast was chosen to be the medium of my digital artifact, it’s because simplicity. While the podcast itself is mostly composed of factual content, the use of audio allows for some jokes here and there. This is so it doesn’t become bland or boring as a result. Podcasts themselves are meant to be relaxing and left on in the background while the listener does something else. The digital artifact was made with that intention as well.

The most challenging part of a podcast is getting the volume levels right. Sadly because of limited resources, I wasn’t able to get the sound I wanted with the headset I used for recording. It was indeed a challenge but after tweaking with Audacity for a bit, I was able to get the audio to a decent level. In order to make sure the podcast was up to par for what I needed, I listened to various recordings of the podcast to see if I could listen to it over and over while doing work. With this method I was able to get the podcast quality to what I wanted.

In terms of how research was done, most of it was looking through a lot of academic journals for academic information and looking online. Information regarding an already rarely discussed topic was a challenge to find but thankfully useful information was found. Sadly due to my own tight schedule, I wasn’t able to get in contact with some people within the industry as their schedule didn’t align with mine. With that said however, the amount of information coming from various places I was able to bring in different perspectives and a lot of facts regarding localization.

Without further adieu:

Having “killer” looks isn’t going to get you out of this one

Humans truly are social creatures. It’s not just an idea either, research has been put into this idea that humans are social creatures. “The use of deliberate social signals can serve to increase reputation and trust and facilitates teaching. This is likely to be a critical factor in the steep cultural ascent of mankind.” – (Firth, 2009). Our social interactions aren’t limited to just other humans but other inhabitants of our planet, animals.

With humans co-existing with animals it’s no surprise that many people have made connections to animals through either work or just having them as pets. According to the Australian Veterinary Association “Dogs remain the most popular type of pet with almost two in five households (3.6 million) owning a dog”. On top of this “Cats were the next most common type of pet with nearly three in 10 households owning a cat (2.7 million).”. It’s no secret that people love animals, but what happens when an animal is pitted against a human?

A 2013 documentary called “Blackfish” was released and it focused on the consequences of keeping killer whales in captivity. This documentary highlights how killer whales have emotions such as happiness, sadness or even anger. The documentary examines the deaths of three individuals who worked closely with the killer whales. With the way the documentary was set up, it made the killer whales appear as the victim while corporate is the villain. This was done through the use of anthropomorphism, the act of giving human traits to an animal.

In the documentary killer whales were separated from families and put into captivity to entertain water park attendees. According to defenders.org:

“Orcas are highly social animals that travel in groups called pods. Pods usually consist of 5 – 30 whales, although some pods may combine to form a group of 100 or more. Orcas establish social hierarchies, and pods are led by females”

So, like humans they too are social animals. With this in mind, the act of taking them away from their families and capturing them for our own entertainment is an act of evil against the killer whales. This in turn gives us reason to dislike the people capturing them in the documentary. Despite this, when a killer whale killed one of the employees the line of morality becomes murky. Yes, the killer whale suffered but when an entertainer was killed as a result of interacting with the killer whale that’s inexcusable as it threatens the safety of the people there. It was not a one off case either as two more died soon after, all done by the same killer whale, Tilikum. People can claim it’s just Tilikum blowing some steam after what’s been done to him but there’s no doubt that he’s dangerous regardless of the circumstances.

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Theatrical release poster for Blackfish documentary

Throughout the documentary it’s clear the trainers had a connection with the killer whales which is perfectly fine. However, the documentary presented the killer whales in a way where they were the victim while corporate was the villain. This is true to an extent, but people forget Tilikum took three lives of trainers. While we can make connections with animals, there’s always some form of barrier with communication. This barrier makes it difficult for humans to completely understand what goes in animals’ minds. This barrier was even the downfall of one of Tilikum’s trainers. Tilikum misunderstood the trainer and performed a trick longer than intended and missed the que from the trainer to stop. Tilikum then wasn’t rewarded due to lack of food in the bucket which most likely angered Tilikum

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Tilikum at SeaWorld Orlando 2009

As social creatures ourselves, it makes sense to want to make connections with both other people and animals. But, with the barrier of communication between humanity and animals being so strong, people tend to forget that animals themselves aren’t always so eager to make friends.

References:

  • Frith, C.F, 2005. The social brain: allowing humans to boldly go where no other species has been. 1st ed. London: The Royal Society.

The value of suffering

While it sounds off putting and odd, watching another person suffer can be engaging. That sentence alone is bound to get a few comments however if you think about it, we’ve been exposed to it throughout our lives. This doesn’t necessarily mean people like watching someone struggle on the street but struggle in television shows and books. Think of the Superhero movies that have become popular over the years. If the main protagonist went through the entire movie without a struggle there would be no tension therefore failure to keep the viewer interested.

The term “underdog” comes to mind, which is defined as the person who is expected to lose but still defies expectations and wins (Keinan, 2010). Without a doubt, watching someone blast through all obstacles without struggle would be boring. It’s the reason why films like Rocky was the highest grossing film of 1975.

So if the concept of struggle in fiction is entertaining is there any use or value of capturing real, unfiltered struggle and showing it to the public? Of course. The Independent released an article about dead children that drowned off the coastal town of Bodrum in Turkey. This article included disturbing photos of a dead child that washed up on a beach. While quite disturbing, capturing these moments can inform others about unknown situations and make people think.

Of course, taking pictures of people dying or horrific pictures how you like isn’t a good way about it. Like with anything, there is a negative effect. “The Vulture and the Little Girl” (Warning: Disturbing) is an example of a negative effect. The photo itself won a Pulitzer prize however there was a slight controversy regarding the safety of the child. So much so, The New York Times had to publish a statement regarding the health of said child:

“A picture last Friday with an article about the Sudan showed a little Sudanese girl who had collapsed from hunger on the trail to a feeding center in Ayod. A vulture lurked behind her.

Many readers have asked about the fate of the girl. The photographer reports that she recovered enough to resume her trek after the vulture was chased away. It is not known whether she reached the center.” – Editor’s Note, 1993

Going by that statement, the safety of the girl wasn’t guaranteed by the photographer which implies that they left after getting rid of the vulture. Spreading awareness of people struggling is good by itself but doing nothing about the situation in front of you is definitely not the way to go about it. The Vulture and The Little Girl is an example of how not go about capturing suffering.

With all of that in mind, there is value to capturing people’s struggles and suffering. However, that doesn’t give a reason to disrespect others while they’re down. This should be a given but if you’re the one taking a photo of someone in pain then do what you can to help them as well. Spreading awareness and informing the public means nothing if you do nothing with what’s already in front of you.

References:

Selfies aren’t evil by default

Self portraits are nothing new as like a normal photo, they’re meant to capture a specific moment in time. The main difference being a person being the focus of the picture. The word self portrait has been shortened (like other words such as legitimate/legit, application/app, ammunition/ammo) into selfie. While self portraits have been around for hundreds of years, the term “selfie” has only come about recently. The first known use of the term was on Karl Kruszelnicki’s ‘Dr Karl Self-Serve Science Forum’ in 2002:

“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer (sic) and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.” – Nathan Hope, 2002

The word itself is integrated deeply into youth culture since it blends in well with social media. Social media has a large focus on sharing experiences and thoughts with various people. Social media sites such as Instagram and Snapchat use photos as the main method of interacting with others as well.

Like with the rise of any new trend, there are many who oppose it, the same goes for selfies. People have come to the conclusion that there can be negative side-effects to a selfie.

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Regardless of these negative effects of selfies, a selfie itself is not inherently bad in itself. No harm comes from wanting to capture a moment. On the flip side, there can be some good that come from selfies as well. On websites such as imgur and reddit selfies are used to keep track/show progress of weight loss:

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A selfie showing someone’s weight loss progress

Another thing to keep note is that while selfies are linked to narcissism and people constantly want likes to increase their self worth, their perception of their self worth can be shattered if no likes are obtained. However, those photos and people generally post photos that are considered beautiful or pretty by the public. Posting selfies of someone’s overweight body would get negative reception one might think. However this isn’t the case as with many of progress selfies, they’re met with great reception and even words of encouragement.

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A progress selfie being rewarded with words of encouragement and positive comments (Source)

This contrasts greatly to popular belief that only beautiful women get positive comments while men get negative comments. While all of that can be true for some cases, it all comes down to intention. If a woman posts a picture of herself with make up and trying her hardest to be beautiful with the sole intention of getting likes, it can be received negatively. On the other hand, if an overweight man posts pictures of himself to keep track of his weight loss over a few months then they will most likely be praised for their efforts. Of course there’s no real way to know the intent of the poster but it’s safe to say people assume when looking at a selfie.

 

References: