Localization of games. Translation and dubbing of computer games. Games in Russian

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Localization of games. Translation and dubbing of computer games. Games in Russian
Localization of games. Translation and dubbing of computer games. Games in Russian

Localization of games is one of the preparatory processes of the video space for its sale in a certain country with its own language. This process involves the processing of artistic materials. Of course, the translation of the game is also included in the term "localization".

History of adaptations

In addition to translation from the original language into a foreign language, localization involves the creation of new files in the game library, as well as the translation of all kinds of manuals for it, recording audio in a foreign language. Even some changes are made to individual game details. In order to get within the framework of the peculiarities of the culture of the region for which the localization of the game is carried out.

The first ever modified video space is Japan's Pac-Man from the 80s. The developers then changed the name of the game to a more "English-language manner" - Puck-man. However, in the United States, the idea was rejected due to fear that the word Puck itself could be mangled and turned into an obscene expression.

graphic localization
graphic localization

During the early localizations of games, solving problems with space constraints, which was available for processing lines of text, played a huge role. After all, the translated strings took up more space than the original ones. Thus, the original text had to be shortened all the time.

Translation difficulties

In addition, the allocated budget and deadlines were very often insufficient for a quality product at the end, which is why the translated text had to be constantly optimized and rewritten. And this caused some confusion.


At the beginning of the 21st century, technology jumped forward, and it became possible to expand the space for text and, accordingly, the text of the localization of a computer game itself. Files are also stored in a different format. The development of sound recording technologies made it possible to include voice acting and dubbing in a variety of languages into the game localization process. And this made gamers very happy.

The whole process

In our time, you can notice a serious increase in the volume of localized material. This is especially true for online projects.

The very process of localizing the translation of the game in Russian is as follows:

  1. First, the original materials sent by the developers are analyzed. Some preparations are underway for the transfer.
  2. A team is selected for the entire project, and the tasks of each participant are distributed.
  3. After the material is transferred to the ready-made executive team and the terms of work are determined.
  4. The material is being translated. It turns out plain text.
  5. Next, the translation of the game is edited and its quality is assessed.
  6. Control check.
  7. After all this, the finished localization of the game is transferred to the original developer, who tests it.

After all this, it becomes possible to release material in several languages.

Working with text

In order to fully translate the text of a big game, first create a list of in-game terms, so as not to confuse the words of general use with words that have a local meaning. After that, a graphical translation is performed, that is, the translated text is superimposed on the in-game graphics. However, it must be made in the same font as the original.

curve translation
curve translation

Thus, if a font of our own production is used in the video space, a similar one is created separately for the alphabet used in the localization of the game on PS3, 4 or any other console.

Depending on the program code and the visual part, programmers are able to modify files or create separate ones in order to make it easier to translate.

When translating, the peculiarities of the language in the region, traditions of transcription and pronunciation of other languages are taken into account. All this can be done both with the direct participation of the developer, and independently of him.

Features and nuances

Localizers consider the following factors in the translation process:

  1. How complete will the localization be, that is, will the translation get namesown, interface elements, word play and more.
  2. How much untranslated elements will affect the understanding of the big picture.
  3. How well the country speaks the language.
  4. Translation of the realities of the present.
  5. Translation of graphic elements. These are signs, graffiti and so on.

There is also an amateur translation of games, which is distinguished by not so rigid execution frameworks. Often, teams of unofficial localizers do their job more scrupulously. However, they may have problems with the license and such a translation may not see the light of day.

curve translation
curve translation

The most difficult to translate are wordplay and adaptation of set expressions, because for this it is necessary to identify all sorts of references to culture and their correct transmission.

Typical mistakes

Users often stumble upon both spelling and punctuation errors in games with Russian localization on Xbox and other platforms. You can also detect the loss of meaning of phrases and sentences in translation, cut parts and even entire layers of text that have not been translated at all. They remain in the original language in the middle of all the rest of the text that is localized.

As for the voice acting, you can sometimes find the monotonous pronunciation or inexpressiveness of the actor's voice.

History of Russian localization

PC games became widespread at the turn of the nineties in the post-Soviet space.

As a rule, illegally small studios were engaged in such translationspirates, for example, the well-known "Fargus". They even translated the names of the games. The quality of such localization, of course, suffered. Although it did not interfere with gamers.

curve translation
curve translation

The very need for games in Russian in our country, unlike many others, is caused by an extremely low level of English proficiency. Which does not allow the average user to fully perceive the original product.

Unlike "Fargus", the most famous professional team of localizers is "SoftKlab".

The very concept of "localization", of course, includes not only a simple translation of the text. It is also a cultural adaptation. And this phrase is already a separate topic in itself.

In order to correctly present a foreign product to the target audience, it is necessary to fully study the culture of both the original original product and this very audience. Only in this case, the adapted product will be understandable and perhaps even somewhat close to the consumer.

dark sauce
dark sauce

Russian localization of games is primarily a translation, however, it is something much more. Indeed, in addition to translating a video into another language, dubbing it and adapting it technically and culturally, it will probably also need to be adapted to the legal field of the consumer country.

Legal changes

As an example of adaptation to the legislation of the country, we can cite cases with international proceedingsthe Wolfenstein game series, in which the protagonist William Joseph Blazkowicz fights against the Nazis. Given the specifics of the theme itself, the game, of course, has a lot of graphic images of the swastika and other symbols of the Nazis from the Second World War.

In Germany, the law prohibits the use of Nazi symbols. This means that in order to localize games on PS3, Xbox and other platforms in this country, all graphic materials containing such symbols will either have to be removed or replaced.

Wolfenstein and censorship

Regarding the Wolfenstein series, the iOS game Wolfenstein 3D (2011) was removed from the App Store in Austria and Switzerland due to the presence of the swastika. This game has been censored before. For example, in 1994, when it was released on the Super Nintendo, all images of the swastika in the Nazi castle were removed from the final version of the localization, and the guard dogs were changed to rats. In the same year, this game was banned in Germany.

The modern-day Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014), which takes place in an alternate history where the Nazis won World War II due to a surge in their own technology, also censored the country versions Austria and Germany, unlike the international versions.

In the sequel to this game, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, the censors have gone even further. In the part of the game where Adolf Hitler is present, his recognizable mustache was removed and he was given the title of Chancellor. Images of the swastika were changed to a symbol with three ends.


While a translation may contain a literal interpretation, localizations need to change the original idiom to one that is more accessible to a consumer in another country.

Thus, you can find that localization and translation have different goals after all. The first is to convey the original meaning, but with attention to the many factors that affect getting a full experience from the product. In the second, the goal is simply to translate the meaning and the very essence of a message.

The so-called "box localization" is the most superficial. This is when the inscriptions on the product packaging are localized on the physical medium. In the case of the release of the game in an online store (for example, Steam or GoG), its wanderer is translated. That is, the description and game footage.

dashing seed
dashing seed

Interface localization is not only a translation of the box and description, but also the names of buttons, manuals and other elements of the game interface. This is where localization ends. And it can feel pretty weird. That is, the "Start the game" button will be in Russian, but the plot and all other text will be in the original language. However, such a transfer is not uncommon.

Another view is called text. There is already a translation of not only the interface, but also everything else that is present in the game. No voice acting. So you can listen to a foreign language and try to understand the pun and slang, while reading sub titles and not losing touch with the plot.

Voice acting and graphics

In addition to creating sub titles, in localization with voice acting, actors are selected, preferably with voices similar to the original. They are already working on voice acting for all dialogue and speech in the game. If the level of performance is decent, then such localization is perceived quite naturally and does not cause rejection among most users. Although many, even with normal voice acting, prefer to listen to the voices of the original.

Absolutely any game project contains an engine on which design, graphics and everything else that is not text is superimposed. For example, various signs, graffiti and the like. Graphical localization implies the translation of the textures of these inscriptions, that is, the replacement.

In this case, how to be a localizer who translates the game, which takes place, for example, in India and China. In this case, inscriptions and signs in Russian may look somewhat out of place. It all depends on the wishes of the publisher and his common sense.

For example, if some graphic elements carry some meaning and are significant for understanding the plot, then they should definitely be translated. Although in a detective game set in America, newspaper articles in Russian may look a bit strange, but if they are important for the plot and further progress in the game, then it is definitely worth translating them.

At the same time, if the game is a shooter about the Second World War and the main character is in Berlin, then the inscriptions in German do not need to be translated at all. This way you can achieve a better preservation of the atmosphere of the project.

Deep adaptation

This type of localization implies a complete redesign of the project for a specific audience with its own culture. So that sometimes only the original mechanics remain. As a result, a completely different game can turn out on the original engine, with a different plot, dialogues, models and textures.

This is quite rare, but they still do it. For example, the Inlingo Game Localization Studio team has such a project. This is usually done when, according to preliminary estimates, without such alterations, the video space simply cannot enter the market and be sold there.

So you can understand that localization is not just a crack for games, but one of the most serious and difficult types of translation, and they do not replace each other at all. These are completely different approaches and tools for solving problems. Although at the same time, localization in any case implies translation, too, at least a minimal one.

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