Perspectives on Game Localization for the Emerging Chinese Console Game Market

Perspectives on Game Localization for the Emerging Chinese Console Game Market

By Michelle Zhao, LAI’s Managing Director for Greater China and Rory Schussler, Special Correspondent

Earlier this January, China lifted a 13 year ban on the sale and manufacture of gaming consoles. This has generated great excitement about the future of the video game industry in China, but it is still too early to know how successful the big console players will be in taking advantage of this opportunity. (Nintendo has said they have no plans so far for entering the Chinese market; Sony is making ambitious plans to sell 5 million PS4s by March, 2014.)

We’re still waiting on more details from the government on how the change in regulation is going to work. Restrictions on content are an issue for game designers. Piracy and the grey market are major concerns. The biggest challenge is how to adapt to the differences of the Chinese market.

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Arabic Game Jam Presentation in Malmö, Sweden

“Creating Culturally-Based Games for the MENA Region”


Below is a transcript of the presentation given by our Game Localization Marketing Specialist at the Arabic Game Jam Summer 2013.  Her next presentation will be at DevHour 2013 in Mexico City this October and is titled, “El Misterio de la Localización, Descubierto.”  Please contact us at if you have any questions:



Hello!  It’s a pleasure to be here for the Arabic Game Jam.  I’m Karin Skoog, the Game Localization Marketing Specialist at Language Automation, Inc. (also known as LAI).  We are a 20 year old video game localization company based in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Some of our clients include Sony, Konami, and Ubisoft.  Usually, when I tell people I do marketing for a video game translation and localization company, they have to stop and think about what that actually means. 




Translation is the act of taking a game from one language and putting it into another (such as a Japanese game into English), while localization involves making aspects of a game culturally relevant for another market.  This may include elements of translation (such as adapting jokes or celebrity references) but may include other components so the game makes sense to players while still maintaining the original feel of the game.
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How Video Game Translation Differs From Other Types of Translation

At Language Automation, Inc. (LAI), we focus specifically on the translation and localization of video games and ensure all of our translators have experience within the video game industry.  Why is this important?

Well, have you ever tried to explain a video game to your parents, grandparents, significant other, anyone who isn’t a gamer?  Assuming both of you are fluent speakers of the same language, as soon as you launch into World of Warcraft jargon, you may as well be speaking an entirely different language.  

For example, in the comic above, this avid gamer is screaming about a graveyard, mobs, runs, Taurens, and tanks.  Now, unless your mom is leveling her own toon in WoW, you may as well be speaking Martian.  And, chances are, unless your translator’s accreditation program had a class focused specifically on the translation of key vocabulary in MMORPG’s (unlikely), your run-of-the-mill translator will have no idea how to translate words like “pull,” “mob,” “run,” “Tauren,” and “tank,” much less the host of other WoW-centric words including “rez” and “drop.”  By now, WoW has a rather extensive library of words used for the various language packs available to players, but many games don’t have that luxury.
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What’s the Video Game Market Like in the MENA Region? Check out our EXCLUSIVE Interview!

New this month is an interview we conducted with Lebanese-based game developer Game Cooks.  After describing the state of the video game market in the Arab region, we sat down with Lebnan Nader, General Manager at Game Cooks, to learn more about the company’s regionally-inspired games and his take on MENA gamers.

We discussed topics critical to developing a deeper understanding of the cultural nuances and preferences of local players.  Central to the discussion was the importance of localization and the need for culturally-sensitive video games.

INTERVIEW BELOW!  Some hot topics include:

  • How much of your games were influenced by the Arab region, and how have players responded to the integration of Arab elements?
  • What music was selected for Birdy Nam Nam and Run for Peace, and why was that music chosen?
  • What is the video game market like in the MENA region, and how has it evolved?
  • Are other game developers in the region creating culturally and regionally-focused games, and would you like to see more developers within the MENA region and around the world create culturally-focused games?
  • What do you think about the way in which AAA developers portray Arabs and Africans in video games?
  • Do you believe MENA gamers prefer locally-produced games or games made abroad and then localized for your region?

Check out our three part video, and be sure to sign up for our company newsletter to stay up-to-date with future interviews, blog posts, and industry conferences & updates!

Part 1: An Overview of the Video Game Market in the Arab World

Part 2: An Introduction to Lebanese-Based Developer Game Cooks and the Integration of Arab Game Elements

Part 3: An In-Depth Discussion of MENA Gamers, Local Preferences, Regionally-Inspired Games, and AAA Developers’ Portrayal of Arabs and Africans