Did you know the most commonly used langauges in the USA? Of course English is #1 and Spanish is #2. What about 3, 4 and 5?
#3 Chinese (2 million people)
#4 French (1.6 million people)
#5 German (1.4 million people)
Shall we keep going. Can you guess the next 5?
#6 Tagalog (1.2 million people)
#7 Vietnamiese (1 million people)
#8 Italian (1 million people)
#9 Korean (0.9 million people)
#10 Russian (0.7 million people)
Lately I’ve been wondering if it’s possible to design a game that helps make the world a better place in some way. It’s been bugging me that games are such a waste of time. For the most part they are pure entertainment. I can watch some movies and get personal inspiration or thought provoking ideas. I can read a book and learn stuff. I can do some physical activity and make my body more fit but when it comes to games, most of them really don’t add much to the world or improve the player in any real world way.
My project is finally wrapping up so I decided to get an XBox 360 since I finally have some time to play games again. Living in Japan the question comes up do I get a Japan 360, an Asian 360 or a USA 360. Some games are region locked so if I get a USA 360 then I can generally only play USA versions of games. Since I live in Tokyo that means I have to play expensive import prices.
Typically for most U.S. game development the team makes the English version of the game only with little to no thought about localization. After they’ve shipped the English version they go back and localize the game for other regions. This is a mistake in my opinion.
This is out all over the net but yesterday Sony Japan put up a downloadable Japanese demo of our game from the official game site. It requires the latest 2.70 version of the PSP firmware which you can download from your respective PSP sites. (USA, Japan, Europe) Simple English instructions for installing it are here.
I was watching the latest 1up show (ep. 22) where Jane Pinckard is interviewing Jon Gibson about the exhibit “1 am 8bit” and they start talking about all the amazing concept art that is made for games but that no one outside the team or company ever gets to see.
In Japan, some of this stuff actually makes it out. For example books on Onimusha. An even better example is game music soundtracks. In Japan it seems like nearly every game has its soundtrack released on CD. You can walk into the big Tsutaya store in Shibuya and there’s a wall with probably 2000 CDs of game music.
Recently we’ve been into some serious localization for our game. 16 languages, and lots of issues are coming up.
I doubt anyone that needs to know this stuff will read this page. In fact I think like many things, localization is one of those things are for most people is so rare they would never think to search for tips before they start. I sure didn’t.
By “Designing Games for Localization” what I mean is, trying to think through every display and message in your game as you first design it, BEFORE ANYONE HAS MADE ART, and taking into consideration how it will be localized.
Last weekend I had an interesting experience with accidentally calling someone based on an ancestry they did not want to be called. It was not pleasant.
Today that got me thinking though. Many many games use country flags for language selection screens. After last weekend’s experience I wonder if that is being disrespectful.