Rooney Scholar Dr. Marina Fontolan is a “player first,” but coming from Brazil, she realized some needed it or got lost in translation. The term “localization” refers to the change of language and culture. On Thursday, the Center of Global Engagement hosted the conference with the School of Engineering, Mathematics, and Science, and the School of Computing, Humanities, and Social Sciences hosted Fontolan’s conference on video game localization. .
Games like “Final Fantasy Legend II”, originally Japanese, are localized in such a way that the player “bonds” with the game, understanding the references that are shown throughout. For example, in the original translation, they offer a reference to a Japanese poppy flower used to create opium. Nintendo America’s rules about no reference to drugs in their games forced them to replace it with nothing but bananas. Examples like these are common when localizing video games from different cultures.
The importance of cultural adaptation is essential and a simple word-for-word translation would be confusing. Being from Brazil, Fontolan explained that she doesn’t understand many late-night American celebrities. She explained to students at Hopwood Hall that she had heard of the name but could not recognize it or the references it would refer to. The player would not experience a “game connection”.
Fontolan explained that in the early days of game localization, “a ton of Japanese games were imported into the United States. From there, several American companies set up sales offices in Europe. They created the acronym EFIGS .English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.
However, with all of these changes happening, the game could turn completely different from the original, and localizers like Fontolan understand the challenges.
“That’s really the million dollar question for [localizers]. A lot of them sometimes don’t know whether or not to change too much with the original material,” Dr. Fontolan said.
Fontolan will continue to teach until the end of the semester.