Communication in large video game projects
Thread poster: indignation16

indignation16
United Kingdom
English to Spanish
Mar 5, 2019

Hello everyone,

I wanted to ask about your experiences in big translation projects with several translators. I am very curious about what are your experiences are with this from a vendor perspective and from a translator's perspective.

From the vendor side, I know there is a challenge in terms of communication and keeping the content consistent. In video games, there are many things to be discussed amongst the team, like characterisation forthe characters, so the vendor
... See more
Hello everyone,

I wanted to ask about your experiences in big translation projects with several translators. I am very curious about what are your experiences are with this from a vendor perspective and from a translator's perspective.

From the vendor side, I know there is a challenge in terms of communication and keeping the content consistent. In video games, there are many things to be discussed amongst the team, like characterisation forthe characters, so the vendor should provide the best tools for that discussion to happen. I noticed many vendors are very wary or bringing together the translators because that means they can discuss privately things like rates, which puts at risk the relationship between other freelancers and the vendor. Also, having a big team means they might not be able to reach agreements, so it can be tough bringing the team together. As vendors, what do you usually use/do so teams of over 6 members can communicate and discuss?

From the translator's side, I would like to know how you feel about projects this big that entail months of work alongside 5 other translators or more. Are you usually willing to spend time discussing matters? Have you ever had any problems working in big teams? What is your preferred way of communication within a team of this size?

Thank you very much everyone
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Timothy Merchant
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:55
Member (2019)
Japanese to English
Collaboration is vital for the best video game localisation results. Jan 7

Characterisation issues should be principally resolved by having a public document that translators can access collaboratively to add new characters, speech patterns, a general profile and any in-game contextual elements that affect how the character should be translated. However, I would argue that communication between translators is essential for achieving the highest levels of accuracy and equivalence in video game localisation.

Video game script can be quite fragmented, and an
... See more
Characterisation issues should be principally resolved by having a public document that translators can access collaboratively to add new characters, speech patterns, a general profile and any in-game contextual elements that affect how the character should be translated. However, I would argue that communication between translators is essential for achieving the highest levels of accuracy and equivalence in video game localisation.

Video game script can be quite fragmented, and an example of where this can cause is problems is with fictional races often found in games. It may be the case that Translator A receives the text for a character of a given race, and Translator B receives the text for a character of a given race at a different juncture, without any contextual hints that Translator B's character IS of that particular race. Innocently, then, Translator B will go ahead and make a new character entry in the characterisation sheet, only to later find that the speech patterns and quirks they've provided are radically different to Translator A's character from the same race, creating an undesirable result. In an in-house environment, this can be quickly picked up on, with translators quickly sharing their understanding of the game via a chat app or similar, providing an excellent level of contextual accuracy.

Similarly, dealing with cultural specific items in video games can be particularly challenging. I've been in teams where only a native Japanese speaker was able to pick up on the most esoteric of CSIs. With a team of translators who are well versed in popular culture, often communication can help bridge gaps in knowledge collectively, with Translator A perhaps having seen *that* episode of *that* show that Translator B hadn't.

I can only speak from the position of a translator within the Japanese to English context, who has worked in both fragmented and collaborative teams, but I hope this is of some help.

[Edited at 2020-01-07 19:20 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-01-07 19:23 GMT]
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Laura Kingdon
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 18:55
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Video games... Jan 8

Timothy Merchant wrote:

Characterisation issues should be principally resolved by having a public document that translators can access collaboratively to add new characters, speech patterns, a general profile and any in-game contextual elements that affect how the character should be translated. However, I would argue that communication between translators is essential for achieving the highest levels of accuracy and equivalence in video game localisation.

Video game script can be quite fragmented, and an example of where this can cause is problems is with fictional races often found in games. It may be the case that Translator A receives the text for a character of a given race, and Translator B receives the text for a character of a given race at a different juncture, without any contextual hints that Translator B's character IS of that particular race. Innocently, then, Translator B will go ahead and make a new character entry in the characterisation sheet, only to later find that the speech patterns and quirks they've provided are radically different to Translator A's character from the same race, creating an undesirable result. In an in-house environment, this can be quickly picked up on, with translators quickly sharing their understanding of the game via a chat app or similar, providing an excellent level of contextual accuracy.

Similarly, dealing with cultural specific items in video games can be particularly challenging. I've been in teams where only a native Japanese speaker was able to pick up on the most esoteric of CSIs. With a team of translators who are well versed in popular culture, often communication can help bridge gaps in knowledge collectively, with Translator A perhaps having seen *that* episode of *that* show that Translator B hadn't.

I can only speak from the position of a translator within the Japanese to English context, who has worked in both fragmented and collaborative teams, but I hope this is of some help.

[Edited at 2020-01-07 19:20 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-01-07 19:23 GMT]

At least Japanese games be somewhat consistent internally. Chinese games use so many contractions, synonyms and nicknames known only to the developer and it takes both experience and a sharp mind to pick up that, yes, these two different terms really refer to the same bloody thing. And in a team, well, there's always somebody less quick on the uptake, or maybe only one or two people who figures out what's really going on.


 

Laura Kingdon  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 05:55
Member (2015)
French to English
+ ...
Communication is essential Jan 9

Maybe this isn't a very surprising point of view coming from a translator, but I would say that if private communication between translators about rates puts the vendor-translator relationship at risk, that vendor should really rethink how much they are paying their translators...

I think one key step is to agree on certain styles and standards before ever starting the translation. For example, are we capitalizing the names of mobs or skills? Are we using the Oxford comma? How are w
... See more
Maybe this isn't a very surprising point of view coming from a translator, but I would say that if private communication between translators about rates puts the vendor-translator relationship at risk, that vendor should really rethink how much they are paying their translators...

I think one key step is to agree on certain styles and standards before ever starting the translation. For example, are we capitalizing the names of mobs or skills? Are we using the Oxford comma? How are we handling hyphens? There are all kinds of little details like this that are very difficult to keep consistent, and it will save us all a lot of time if all these things are set out before starting the translation. As a translator, I don't love being sent a 40-page style guide to read before starting the translation, but it's much better than the alternative and it's quite a reasonable thing to be asked to do for a large project (although not so much if it's a 200-word translation and you're just asking me to do it because your regular translator is unavailable). It also helps to have expert proofreaders who are really good at spotting these issues.

However, even with all this, there will still be unexpected issues that arise during the translation, and that's why communication is absolutely essential. MemoQ has a feature that works pretty well for this. Email between team members tends to get spammy, so that's best limited to updates from the vendor and not for discussions between translators. Although I haven't done it for work purposes myself, I think something like Discord could also work well. It is also helpful to have occasional updates, possibly by email, summarizing any new decisions that have been made among the team as it can be easy to miss things when there is a lot of communication.

As Lincoln mentioned, it is also handy to have a place for translators to share difficult segments since not everyone has the same knowledge base. We can always ask the client, but our fellow translators who speak both languages fluently are likely to actually have a better idea of how to deal with these and of what it is we actually need to know; clients are not always great at providing helpful answers to translators' questions.

As with reading style guides, I don't mind spending some time on communication for very large projects as long as it doesn't become unreasonable and as long as the vendor is paying my standard rate and hasn't tried to bargain it way down.
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