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    2021.11.22 The Originality

    The Originality | Localization, NC West, Kieran Brewer

    There is a new world in games. We experience new things there and are deeply touched by the growth that we could never experience in reality.

    A new joy can never be created on its own; it is created through combination of different experiences and passion of different people, which is channeled into new possibilities. People are gathered to create one game, and their different capabilities and passion for quality create a new game.

    We create another world, collecting pieces of different experiences.

    Diverse superiorities < The Originality >

    Game localization is a beautiful art. It has the power to connect us across different regions, ages, classes, genders, and cultures. It helps us understand and appreciate our differences while speaking to the human experience we all share. It means that games can serve as a window for communication that brings us together no matter where we’re from or what we’ve seen.

    Localization, Kieran Brewer

    Localizers edit game text and voice over scripts for a game for a specific region in order to make it more accessible for our players. We work to resolve anything that gets quite literally lost in translation. This helps update the game’s dialog, so it sounds a little more natural to the local speakers of the relevant language.

    It’s vital to be able to speak to a broad spectrum of players. The world is vast, and our experiences can be so varied. Something that is a natural experience in one place might brush up against painful personal history in another, or at least might come across like an awkward or inappropriate joke. So, it’s important for us to not only be able to help make sure that the quest instructions are clear or that the players can easily read and understand how a game mechanic works, but also to make sure that the original tone and intent of a story comes across and doesn’t get lost in all the intricacies of language as it goes along.

    Respect for diversity is the beginning of the localization process

    In localization, writing and editing skills are of course important. However, I think an often-overlooked key to our work is the ability to internalize progressive values, as well as a willingness to learn about a lot of different cultures, including your own.

    On the one hand, we don’t want to just erase the experiences that the developers bring to their games, so it’s important to understand the context that some things have been written in in order to carry it over to your own region. On the flip side, part of localization is making sure you don’t accidentally alienate any of your local players, so having knowledge of any hot button issues and things that may make more marginalized members of our communities feel unseen or unheard is vital.

    Collaboration is the key

    It was not a straight path

    I did not join the localization industry right after college. I was a theater kid and I was a band geek, but I started to major in English. I planned on getting certified to be a teacher. In my home state Florida, English teachers could also teach drama, and I thought maybe I could enjoy a little of both worlds. But before I finished college, I took a chance and moved out to California to try and be a writer and I’ve been here since.

    I worked as a game master for four years with another game company and even at an insurance company for a while. My passion was always with writing and games, though. I’ve been writing in various capacities for different live action role playing games since 2008 and doing all that storytelling is what helped me get the writing test here. I was new to localization, but it’s been great to break into the field and get to see another style of writing.

    Adding an experience to another

    Working as a game master meant I was in customer service, which helped me develop the ability to look ahead and foresee the kinds of things that might cause issues or confusion for the players, or anything that might generate a ticket. That helped me find places to really smooth out the language or clarify steps and missions in the game text.

    Working in localization, I collaborate with other teams through multiple steps of game development, and we provide our input so that the games of NC and ArenaNet are more readily accessible across various regions and cultures. Our team focuses on finding the best ways to really speak to players from all walks of life by appealing to the shared experiences that make us all human. We’ve definitely grown together over the course of tackling progressive topics and working to maintain efficient communication between different regions and departments.

    Collaboration is difficult, but it gives the best result

    Localization requires a lot of nuance. For instance, we received a series of side quests which had some references to depictions of an indigenous tribal culture in-game that was being targeted by some of the villains. That’s a difficult subject in the US, where there is a combination of diverse cultures and races. Our team worked with production and QA to alter that portion of the game for our region in order to remove those references and find other ways to emphasize the villains’ terrible actions.

    Localizing something so delicate was possible thanks to active and detailed communication with the development team. By all of us working together, we were able to delve into the core of the issue and determine the best ways for all of us to be able to tackle our concerns.

    This sort of cooperation is something I’m lucky enough to enjoy not only within our company, but also within our local communities and chosen families. Building those friendships and being able to participate in teamwork in all aspects of my life is a joy.

    Game is a window that helps us understand differences and connect each other

    I hope that there will be even more diversity

    This is an age where we’re more connected than ever. So many people from all walks of life have access to expressing their ideas in places where they can be heard, and that means more and more people are getting to bring their skills to the forefront.

    In games, we’re finally starting to see more marginalized voices not just being represented, but also having more direct access to development, which is great. We still have a long way to go, but seeing more and more diversity in gaming is going to continue to raise the bar for quality by bringing new ideas and perspectives to the table.

    My horizon widens once I work with more people

    In localization, it helps to be able to work within a broadly diverse company. The more we work with others, the more we get to follow the paths of stories we never could have imagined on our own, and then bring that spark to our games. My horizon is always widening by getting to meet so many different people and work with different creative professionals.

    We can move forward only if we listen to each other

    The core of working toward equity and diversity is to uplift those with fewer opportunities or whose voices might otherwise get drowned out by the status quo. A lot of that means listening not just during conversations with our teams, but in our personal lives.

    Ultimately, listening comes before everything else. Only by internalizing others’ words and experiences can you determine when it’s time to speak out and when it’s time to utilize your position to uplift others’ voices instead.

    To those who aspire to join game localization

    Be sure to read as much as possible and to play all kinds of different games. You’re going to want a sharp eye for grammar and sentence flow, but the more variety you intake, the more you’ll have context for different kinds of gameplay, character types, and cultural folklore.

    So, when you intake media from cultures other than your own, just enjoy it with an open mind. Then, when you’re ready to break into the field, put together a portfolio of your best writing samples to really showcase your skills and your capacity for variety.

    I want to embrace all values in our games

    I still strive to listen to various voices throughout the world and to expand my perspectives. There are many under-represented groups and voices within the gaming industry that we should be embracing.

    Storytelling is a beautiful and personal art and it should speak to the heart. That means seeing what drives and inspires us in all different regions, ages, classes, sexualities, cultures, gender identities, and so on. Games that are well localized have the power to touch players throughout the world. They don’t just speak to what connects us all, but also help us understand and fall in love with the differences that make us who we are.

    * The statement made through this interview is a personal opinion of the interviewee and not an official one of NCSOFT.