Game Translators and Their Inner Superheroes

Greater than 3 minutes, my friend!

You probably, hopefully know that there is more to being a game translator than knowing two languages and owning an Apple device. But I bet there are many skills you do not expect us to need in order to do our job. Let me tell you, we are not JUST translators.
We are an endless array of quirky personas. And we morph into several of them in the course of a single translation project.
Meet my top 8 translation superheroes!!

The Relinquisher
More often than we like, the developers will shatter everything we believed in by asking us to not use the correct special character since it would crash the game. That we cannot use quotation marks. Or challenge us with vague instructions á la “Please be aware that the protagonist is a racist duck”. The developer has the last say. It’s their game. And sometimes we just need to let go of accuracy fort he sake of creativity—or the other way around. That’s when the Relinquisher comes to the rescue. His superpower is to Let. It. Go. He sucks it up, and we keep on translating.

The freelancer, a common species in the game localization fauna, is not known to spend a lot of time talking to people. But if it translates an MMO or another big game translation project, it will have to cooperate with others of its species to share advice and ideas, or for the greater good in general. It might even be trusted to proofread another translator’s work. It never behaves like an ass. It does not badmouth its co-creatures or clients. The Teamagotchi is the kind of colleague others are happy to make up words and kill bugs with, the kind of superhero that plays nice in an ensemble cast

Dr. Ishallfind’ya
If you translate games there will always be stuff you need to research as virtually anythingcould show up in a game. How do you perform a vasectomy? Is this word that sounds right in my mind actually an official German word? Dr. Ishallfind’ya has it covered. An intellectually curious researcher, his browser history would make commoners wonder. If he didn’t know how to effectively browse the web, he would have to make stuff up. And, sadly, not every project benefits from random explosions of creativity. Dr. Ishallfind’ya is powered by supergoogle-fu juice.

Some love making decisions, others don’t like to close any opportunity. What rate do I offer to this new client? Does the sentence sound better that way? Do I report every bug in the source text to the client or do I focus on my task and turn a blind eye to everything else? As a translator, every time Determigirl hits the keys, she is making a decision.

The Astonishing Bughunter
Even if T.A. Bughunter hasn’t been hired as game tester, this little bug destroya sometimes just cannot help but notice all those adorable mistake in the source text. And he will often tell on those pitiful creatures to the developer, or even eradicate them by himself. Usually appreciated by his clients, those unwanted bugs have to await a cruel death by programmer. Hey, just leave those poor bastards alone, yo!

Wonder Mark
No matter how well the game text is written — every game will come with question marks. And no matter how overworked he is, Wonder Mark is never too busy to ask, ask, ask until everything is perfectly clear. Why the heck is the main character suddenly talking about ants? Just ask.

When he signed up to be a freelance translator, Porg did not expect having to be a project manager as well. As a freelancer, you have to do your own project planning. You have to make sure that you’re up to speed (better yet, always one step ahead) with the project. You also have to account for proofreading, Q&A, sudden project changes, extra words, sickness, and all kinds of other downtimes. For bigger projects, Porg even likes to keep a spreadsheet with a few basic formulas that show him his progress. Because progress bars!!!

Angie of Tomorrow
Deadlines can be stressful. But boy, has Angie learnt from them too: To turn a blind eye to the mess around her. To not hear the noise of the bridge construction in front of her window. To not be upset that her friends are going to the beach today and she cannot join. And to be happy to be living in a place where she can get delicious Thai food and overpriced toilet paper delivered within an hour. Ignorance really can be bliss.


Thank you for reading and sharing, my fellow superheroines and superheroes.

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Marianna Sacra

About Marianna Sacra

7 thoughts on “Game Translators and Their Inner Superheroes

  1. I think there’s a little bit of every super hero in me, but I think Dr. Ishallfind’ya is who I truly am! 😀 My browser history is definitely NOT for the faint-hearted and I’m fairly certain DEA, CIA and FBI are onto me! 😛

    And me? I’m just doing my thorough research on guns, drugs and types of racial slurs so I could make my fellow gamers happy with the quality and accuracy of my translation. 🙂

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