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Games Localization Round Table

2013 Game Localization Advisory Board
Co-chair: Miguel Á. Bernal-Merino (Roehampton University)
Co-chair: Simone Crosignani (Binari Sonori)
Michaela Bartelt (Electronic Arts)
Stephanie O'Malley Deming (XLOC)
Laura van Nigtevegt (Spil Games)
Vanessa Wood (Sony Computer Entertainment Europe)

Overview: This full-day round table consists of several distinct sessions presented by experts in game localization. This round table series is open to clients (game developers and game publishers) and to qualifying vendors (game localization specialists). We aim to provide the best possible venue to enable a fruitful and balanced debate, so we will do our best to maintain a balanced group of participants. The day will end with an open discussion based on information and questions from the day's presentations.

8.00-9.00: Registration and coffee

9.00-9.15: Welcome to the Game Localization Round Table

9.15-9.30: Introductions

9.30-10.30: Localizing Kabam — Building a Localization Department from Start-up to Industry Leader
Speaker: Aline Müller (Kabam)
Synopsis: Kabam is an interactive entertainment company that is leading the next wave of gaming. As the leader in free-to-play core gaming, Kabam is transforming the traditional gaming industry. The company’s focus is on combining the best elements of gaming to appeal to the growing audience of gamers who look for highly immersive social games on PC, mobile and tablet platforms. After developing its first successful game in late 2009, it became apparent that success lies in diversity — not only of products and game genres, but also diversity of platforms and markets. In 2010, Kabam first attempted to enter the European gaming market with an ad-hoc localization test. This test was successful and Kabam opened a European office and built a localization team in early 2011.
 
This presentation will detail the journey of Kabam’s localization team from the start-up stage to the development of a professional localization team, covering the challenges and solutions that have led to Kabam’s success.

10:30-11.00: Break

11.00-12.00: L10N goes F2P: Making In-house Localization Work at Aeria Games
Speaker: Daniel Finck (Aeria Games Europe GmbH)
Synopsis: Founded seven years ago, Free-2-Play publisher Aeria Games has now grown to be one of the leading publishers of client and browser massively multiplayer online games, arguably the most fiercely contested sector of the gaming market. Building on this success, Aeria has recently expanded into mobile gaming and enjoys considerable success with seven titles released to date. To thrive in such a competitive environment, Aeria focuses on strong leadership and quick decision-making combined with close monitoring of key performance indicators, revenue, conversion rates and internal efficiencies. However, it’s not all about playing the numbers; a vital ingredient in building Aeria’s success has been the company’s drive to explore new regional markets where quality localization is essential to ensuring strong conversion and retention of players.

Often overlooked during the early days of a young game company thriving in a growing market, professional in-house game localization and deep culturalization is instrumental for the successful monetization of a title. Dealing with reduced project release cycles and a rapidly growing games portfolio targeting numerous linguistic territories at the same time can give rise to a number of issues and finding the sweet spot in the “iron triangle” of cost, quality and resources is a daunting endeavor under these conditions. Outsourcing the “problem” is therefore often seen as the quick and easy solution in many medium-sized companies. However, the in-house localization model can not only hold its own against the outsourced model, but with the correct structures in place, including internalsmall-medium enterprises language teams, localization processes, and proper use of computer-aided translation tools, the internal model in fact offers far greater efficiencies and return on investment.

Using Aeria Games' localization department as a case study, this session will attempt to demonstrate how to make localization work through the insights the company has gained so far, while also presenting some hands-on experience and illustrating various peculiarities, challenges and techniques particular to game localization.

12.00-13.30: Lunch

13.30-14.15: You Say Scrum, I Say Kanban — Integrating Localization in the Development Process
Speaker: Clara Gómez Pérez (Goodgame Studios)
Synopsis: Working for a developer offers a unique opportunity to influence the development process and integrate localization into it. But it also involves taking care of a wide range of translation projects and linguistic issues, since localization managers are the first instance for all language related questions within the company and handle requests from many different departments. In order to provide tailor-made solutions for each department, it is essential to understand their special needs and adapt to the different work methodologies and workflows within the company, especially in game development. Flexibility and communication are essential, as it is to raise awareness on the importance of localization and internationalization for the international success of a product. In this presentation we will analyze the integration of the localization process into software development methodologies such as kanban and scrum. We will also discuss how to adapt to a wide range of workflows and establish company-wide standards.

14.15-15.00: Video Game Localization in China
Speaker: iaochun Zhang (University of Vienna)
Synopsis: Although video game localization arrived relatively late on the scene in mainland China, the Chinese translation industry has been growing at an enormous pace over the past decade due to the globalization of popular culture and a desire to expand to new markets. In 2012, the revenue income of the Chinese gaming industry reached RMB 60.28 billion (approximately $9.7 billion), representing an increase of 35.1% from the previous year. During that time, 45 foreign games were imported into the Chinese market while 177 China-made games were localized into target language versions and exported to more than 100 countries in the international market. While there has been much discussion concerning video game localization in the European and North American markets, less attention has been paid to understanding the situation in China. In this presentation we will therefore seek to give an overview of the Chinese gaming market and discuss relevant localization issues in game localization into and out of Mandarin Chinese. We will begin with a brief introduction of the history and development of video gaming in China, followed by a summary of the current situation focusing on the unique features involved in the translation process within the Chinese gaming industry. We will then consider the influence of linguistic and socio-cultural factors on game localization, with particular attention being paid to censorship and cultural conventions. We will conclude by proposing a target-player oriented translation and localization strategy.

15.00-15.30: Break

15.30-16.15: Ni no Kuni: A Localization Case Study
Speakers: Oli Chance (Translator), Morgan Rushton (Shloc Ltd)
Synopsis: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch arrived in the West to widespread acclaim earlier this year, attracting particular praise for its localization. The localized English text is the product of an intensely quality-focused approach, made possible by the dedication of a small team of specialist localizers (Shloc), and the support of an ambitious developer (Level 5). We will talk in detail about how the localization was carried out, explaining our working practices, the key decisions made and the challenges faced — from the project’s inception to its conclusion. In the course of our presentation we will endeavor to define what we believe to be the key requirements of quality localization, aided by comparisons with previous projects.

16.15-17.15: The Latin American Localization Opportunity — Super Mario or Grim Fandango?
Speaker: Teddy Bengtsson (RoundTable Studio)
Synopsis: Latin America is receiving plenty of attention these days, whether its for the upcoming world events taking place in Brazil over the next few years or its promise as a large and yet relatively underdeveloped market.  This presentation will focus on the opportunities and challenges represented by the Latin American market including a general overview, details about specific local/regional markets and how these may relate to the video game industry in general and localization in particular. While it would perhaps not be right to call it the final frontier, its many idiosyncrasies create hurdles that need to be overcome in order for it to realize some or all of the potential it undoubtedly has. Practical examples will be linked with personal experiences with plenty of room for planned or unplanned sidetracks.

17.15-17.30: Concluding Remarks and Wrap-up

   
   
 
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