Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Off topic: Videogames: They suffer the WORST translations
Thread poster: Yamato (X)

Yamato (X)
Local time: 14:18
Russian to Spanish
+ ...
May 6, 2003

Anyone ever noticed that videogames are, on average, AWFULLY translated?

Oh, oh, but of course, you are all serious and responisble adults with jobs and mortgages to pay. You don\'t play videogames any more icon_wink.gif

Well, as a collector and, (just a little) \"expert\", let me share the horror stories with you. (eng>esp)

To start easy:

I\'ve seen SG shells translated as \"Cartuchos SG\". Apparently the translator didn\'t bother to work out that SG might be short for \"Shotgun\".(this was in Dino Crisis)

A great one, from \"Heimdall 2\":

Would you ever translate \"sorry\" as \"desolado\" ? (meaning: i\'m sorry\&quoticon_wink.gif
Well, don\'t dare to think that no one would.

An all time favorite, from Jagged Alliance:

How can something as \"He is always quoting cliches from B western movies\" finish up as \"Requerirá ver un par de películas B del oeste para aclimatarse al campo de batalla\"?

They are not exact quotes, but trust me, I saw it.

This is one of the worst translations ever, but...

The Absolute WInner:

FInal Fantasy 7!

Some think that the script was just went through some machine translation. Well, they definitely can argue the case, too many \"the\" translated as \"el\" when it should be \"ella\", too much information from the original just dissapearing, too many puzzles that have to be solved by trial and error because the text involved doesn\'t make sense...

ANd of course:

\"Choose members for the party\" (the party of characters you control) Translated as \"Escoge miembros para la fiesta\" !!!

My friends and I really cracked ourselves laughing with that.

Fortunately, nowadays that trend seems to change slowly.

There are hopeful examples of good translations, lead by a personal favourite: \"Deus Ex\".

The translation is brilliant.

My thanks, and those of the gamers, to the translator of Deus Ex.

Keep it up!


Gayle Wallimann  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
Member (2001)
French to English
+ ...
How true! May 7, 2003

My family has been smiling about some of the French that is in the new Zelda game, the Wind Waker. I wonder if the Spanish version is the same? Happy gaming!icon_smile.gif


Benjamin Wood  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:18
Member (2004)
Japanese to English
A slightly different perspective May 7, 2003

I work from Japanese - English, and mainly in the field of videogames. Although I do my best to try and write some of the wrongs this genre has suffered over the years, the odds are often stacked against you ^-^

One of the biggest problems is that you are dealing with a seperate entity from just the translation. The text is not complete intself, and in many cases the only way to give full context to it is to play the game. Obviously some of the examples you have stated are the work of people who have not played many games before, let alone the game in question. I have a big advantage in that area, at least ^-^

However, especially for small freelance projects, it is often just not possible to play every title or co-ordinate everything between manual and in game text, especially if I am only handling one side of the project. Also, I have worked on software for which the Japanese version is not yet finished, so no chance of playing that ^-^ But still, to say the amount of care and time that goes into writing scenarios and game scripts on the Japanese side, especially for titles such as FF7, there is a distressing lack of support for game translators when it comes to recreating the same feeling in other languages.

However, this medium is on the rise, and hopefully more people will start to see the sense in making these translations are good as possible.

Anyway, just my bit ^-^


Pilar T. Bayle (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
:-) Thank you! May 7, 2003


lead by a personal favourite: \"Deus Ex\".

The translation is brilliant.

My thanks, and those of the gamers, to the translator of Deus Ex.

icon_smile.gif Thank you from the one who was in charge of coordinating the beginning effort of Deus Ex, plus correcting a lot of idioms that were being tossed down the drain without actual understanding of what they meant. icon_smile.gif

Nevertheless, you should point your finger in the direction of the agencies, since videogame translators are usually paid a pitiance (we are talking about EUR 0.02 per word). icon_smile.gif Gaming companies at that time were paying about 10 times that per word. When you pay those prices, you cannot ask for the best translators, you just pick up what they have done and try to correct it and forge ahead. icon_smile.gif In the end you get burnt out, that\'s for sure!


BTW, there are always teams of translators involved in the large games. Otherwise it would be impossible to adhere to the timetable the gaming company imposes.

[ This Message was edited by: pbayle on 2003-05-07 12:33]


Hans-Henning Judek  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:18
German to English
+ ...
They get, what they pay for.... May 7, 2003

Some years ago, when English - German video game translations were not made in Vietnam or Tanzania icon_wink.gif but still in Japan, I have talked to the quality control manager of one large game maker, to get into business with them. result was that he offered about 25% of my regular agency rate in a direct client-translator relation! My question, what kind of quality he would expect from someone, working at such a low rate, he told me \"I don`t care, we dump everything on the table of our German distributor and leave it to them, to brush it up\". So what can you expect with such a philosophy?

Also I was quite glad not to stay involved in game translations, as I found it very difficult to accept to translate garbage like \"A day without human brain on my boots is not a good day for me...\". Don`t we poison the minds of our kids? I was several times close to just send the whole sh... back. So loosing this kind of work I don`t regret much.


Local time: 13:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's not a excuse but... May 7, 2003

I\'ve been translating videogames from English into Spanish for more than 8 years and I\'m not trying to excuse myself, but most of the times we get the texts without any context at all, so it\'s difficult to translate \'Building\' just like that without knowing if is a verb or a noun. The gender issue is another common one, because nobody bothers to think that in English it doesn\'t matter, but in Spanish, just to metion one example, it\'s vital!! And the last problem I ususally find is the text restrictions. English texts tend to be around 20% shorter than Spanish ones and the creators of videogames don\'t allow extra space for the texts in another languajes.

I really think that is more a problem of proofreading and beta testing than translating, because I always point out the terms I have doubts about or if I don\'t know if they are talking about a woman or a man (don\'t forget many times the names of the charecters are made up ) and the answer from the clients (not agencies!!) is always the same: \"Don\'t worry, when we do the beta testing and we see the text with the game, it will be corrected\". If then they don\'t do it I believe it\'s their problem, not mine.


Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:18
English to Portuguese
+ ...
quite agree May 7, 2003


In matter of fact I do believe that this happens. It is a bit like film scripts. You sometimes need to translate without seeing the film at all so the context might be different if you see the characters in place.

Well, when I was younger I always spotted all sort of mistakes and not so good translations. Nowadays, I know that not all words that we see have been translated using a translator, having context and without character-restriction. So, at the end it is difficult to distinguish between a bad translation and a process that doesn\'t have time for translators\' needs and requirements.

To have an opinion 100% correct we need to have all data available.

It is true that bad translations exist but I am sure there are good ones as well. Don\'t we all think we are good at it??

Kind regards,



Yamato (X)
Local time: 14:18
Russian to Spanish
+ ...
My thanks May 8, 2003

My thanks to Benjamin Wood, and all the other posters, for your useful comments. I knew that you were sometimes given just scripts, but it turns out that the situation is SNAFU!

Of course I hope no one felt offended, it is very true that everything turns against the translator, too often.

One side comment:

Pilar.... de verdad.... tu ...?

De mayor quiero ser como tu!! icon_wink.gif

Mis mejores deseos a todos.


MJ Barber  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
All your base are belong to us! May 13, 2003

On the other hand, it sometimes throws up \'classics\' like my header sentence. The English language would be poorer without such gems!


Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:48
English to Tamil
+ ...
It's all a question of money May 15, 2003

It is quite rare to see project managers giving enough thoughts to translation in projects involving 2 parties speaking different languages. They don\'t bother to provide adequate budget for translation, without which the entire project falls flat on its face. More often than not only pittances are earmarked in the budget and of course no place is assigned to this activity in the bar charts. No proper time is allotted. A project report takes a lot of time to prepare and many people each writing with different styles are involved. But one translator is expected to do the entire translation in one or two days. This is more so in videogames translation. Nobody cares. The translator is paid peanuts. Well, if you pay peanuts, you will get only monkeys.


RosaT  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Pitiful conditions May 15, 2003

I agree wholeheartedly with Benjamin, and most of the others here.

I don\'t think you can imagine the pitiful circumstances in which many videogames are localized, and I am talking about great games with an international market and developed by leading companies.

I\'ve had great time too laughing at absurd translations in games and other SW but, after some experience in the field, I soon realized how sad the industry can be. Not only money; sadly, deadlines to launch products are everything.

Videogames are, in my opinion, complex and (sometimes) beautiful pieces of work, very creative in some cases, that really require a lot of organization, time, effort and, above all, care.

That is what they would teach you when studying for your translation degree. What they do not tell you is how extremely hectic and full of impossible requests the localization industry actually is. Quite frustrating when all you want to do is deliver high quality.

After all this negative blubber, I do want to say I really enjoy the field and it is definitely one of the most rewarding to me. Just that I would change a few things icon_smile.gif


Thierry LOTTE  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
Member (2001)
English to French
+ ...
May the Force be With You... (if possible...) May 16, 2003

Hi Pablo !

I started to play video games 15 years ago with “my good ole Apple II E”.

Later on I switched to my “good ole Amiga 500”.

Now, in spite of my “canonic age”, I still enjoy it with my “brand new PC – Pentium V XX Plus, and all these sorts of things”…

I have always been a fan of Syd Myers’games as “Civilization” or the “Ultima V” saga edited by Lord British but never succeeded to play these games in French because of the lousy translation (which moreover created some Bugs while playing it).

This is the reason why I always played the English version.

Now, thanks to you, I understand why : Editors/Translation agencies do not want to pay reasonable price for their translation…

Since a long time I really would like to translate videogames in French, mainly adventure games, or sims (with a Science Fiction background) but I never succeeded to get a contract.

Now I understand why… I always proposed a price of 0.06 € (when usually my price per source word is 0.0icon_cool.gif because I was strongly motivated to get this kind of amazing job. Wrong bet when considering the market price (0.02 € according to Pilar T…). Furthermore, I was asking for the beta test in order to provide a better translation…

Well, I am afraid that I have to forget it for time being and keep sticking to my usual punishments about locomotive engines, American stock exchange comments/analysis or even legal stuffs…

Too bad !…

Hope to talk about this matter with you within shortly at the occasion of the Barcelona Pow Wow, next saturday.

Rgds to all …


Local time: 13:18
German to Italian
+ ...
That is the problem! May 23, 2003

Hello everybody,

just the same for me! How often have I wished to be given a chance to translate a really good and exciting game from English into Italian? Just everytime I saw a terrible Italian translation that sort of destroyed the whole game... and this has happened quite often. Just two examples:

NBA 2000 Basketball: blocks translated as \"blocchi\" instead of \"stoppate\", whereas the Italian \"blocchi\" - apart from meaning blocks in the sense of clusters - would be \"picks\" in basketball English. I mean, it\'s a basketball game which basketball fans will be playing in all parts of the world, so why let it translate by someone who\'s never seen an orange ball?

Warcraft III, one of my favourite games: Thanks God I have the English version, but I happened to play the Italian too, and I got so angry...

All in all, thanks to all of you for talking about your direct experiences in the field. Now I understand that sometimes it is not so much the translator\'s fault, but what is completely wrong is the translation process, and the game companies not giving a damn about game quality of translated versions. Eventually, people are going to buy the game and spend money, the rest does not count...




Yamato (X)
Local time: 14:18
Russian to Spanish
+ ...
Dubbing May 25, 2003

This has no relation with translation but... also noticed how horribly dubbed they are?

I mean... in English the voices sound like they are supposed to, that is, Rough for captains giving orders, dark for sorcerers and so on...
But at least in Spanish, the sounded just like if the dubbers were angry to dub it, with the "Leave me alone" attitude. So horrible...


Thierry LOTTE  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
Member (2001)
English to French
+ ...
Dubbing May 28, 2003

Have made one dubbing in Barcelona (Fr/Sp) for documentary/commercial TV spots...

They paid it so bad that I can understand that they are unable to find some "motivated" actor to make dubbing for a videogame.

But this is something different : I personally do believe that original version is always better than a dubbed one, and that the worst subtitles will always be better than a dubbed version.

Pages in topic:   [1 2] >

To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Videogames: They suffer the WORST translations

Advanced search

Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »
Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search