Thursday, February 22, 2024

#TranslatorsInTheCredits: The Online Movement that Pushes Translators Into the Spotlight

According to Grand View Research, in 2021, video game localization was worth $195.65 billion USD. It is said to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.9% from 2022-2030. It’s only possible due to how closely connected the world has become. The rise of the Internet and translation industry has made promoting video games to various markets a lot easier and faster than ever before.

For this reason, translators play a critical role in ensuring games and esports resonate with their target audience as they take great pains to convey meaning and cultural references accurately. However, despite their vital contribution, translators are seldom credited in the entertainment industry. This has thus led to the creation of the #TranslatorsInTheCredits movement online.

Many believe it’s about time that we give credit to the often-overlooked translators and localization experts in the video game industry. Today, let’s explore this issue and determine how translation service providers should be credited.

Let’s get started!

Lost in Translation: The Gaming Industry’s Concerns

In the past, translators were given recognition for their translations of books and manuscripts. With the rise of other mediums, like films and video games, the recognition of translators for their work has diminished. Compared to other players in the entertainment industry, translators are underwhelmingly credited–and this is particularly a problem in the realm of video games.

But why aren’t translators getting the recognition they deserve? One reason why could be that the act of translation is seen as a secondary process and focus is therefore placed primarily on the original creator.

Translators in the gaming industry may also be overlooked because many don’t know that translation is both an art and a science. Some people may not understand that translation services require a complex skill set to convey a content’s meaning beyond linguistic and cultural borders. Translators must possess in-depth cultural knowledge of both the source and target languages they work with.

Due to the lack of credit and minimal pay they receive, some professionals in the translation localization industry have begun to seek recognition for their efforts across various entertainment platforms and media. The Vulture reported that in 2013, a group of English-language translators launched a campaign called #namethetranslator. It was a movement aimed at publishers and media to protest how rarely translators are given recognition for reviews and marketing content.

Recently, a new movement has sprung, a continuation of the movement that occurred in 2013. And even though several advanced translation technologies have been developed since then, the future of the translation industry still relies on human translators to complete the task. But recently there has been a rising concern about how these technologies are being implemented in the translation industry. Due to this, many language professionals are questioning the future of translation services. Despite the next generation being more multicultural and multilingual, we could see a shortage of highly-skilled professionals if the ethical concerns are not addressed immediately.

What is #TranslatorsInTheCredits?

Video game localization is a growing industry that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. This could be why there’s growing dissatisfaction among language professionals in the gaming community. Many gamers have noticed how subpar video game localization has become with Reddit posts like “LOCALIZERS Are Ruining Video Games” circulating the Internet. It’s no wonder many translation service providers are frustrated with the low pay, lack of support, and recognition.

In May 2022, the hashtag #TranslatorsInTheCredits circulated on the Internet and became a movement to raise awareness of the challenges translators face in the industry. It was a cry by localization and translation professionals alike to be recognized for their work and highlight the role they play in the entertainment industry. In light of this movement, a new Twitter account called Loc In Credits was created where people can share examples of translation works and have the translators credited for their efforts.

Due to this movement, many gaming developers are beginning to include translators in their credits. Examples of this movement working are Hogwarts Legacy and Planet Cube Game, wherein they credited their translators and localization specialists. Crediting the translators encourages transparency and ensures the quality of the localized or translated video game content. It also demonstrates that they are artists in their own right and they contribute greatly to the success of the entertainment industry.

Possible Ways We Can Help #TranslatorsInTheCredits Movement

Another major element that propelled this movement forward was the fear and frustration that translation technology would replace human translators. But based on the reviews from video game players and enthusiasts, purely machine translation-generated content does not do justice to its source material. To get a more nuanced idea on this matter, we gathered the opinions of translation industry experts and language service providers specialized in game translation and localization.

Venjo Abilagoyo, an enthusiastic gamer and creative manager of a translation company, Tomedes, mentions the need for creativity in game localization. “For a game to be successful, it needs to speak to its user,” he mentions. “At Tomedes, we work hand-in-hand with specialists in the gaming industry who rely on their imagination and in-depth cultural knowledge to craft a localized version that is in line with the vision of the target market. This makes the game truly interactive, which is the foundation for its success.”

The localization provider Wordbank stated that “over-emphasis on software solutions devalues human translation” and transactional relations with translators are the cause of low-quality output, not only in the gaming industry but in other sectors, too. As a solution, they suggested developing a relationship with translators to enhance engagement between vendors and language service providers.

Anna Wyndham, the Senior Research Analyst of Slator, a well-known language industry news site, explained that several game developers have begun to mention the language professionals involved in the game localization projects. However, this is just the start of a long discussion between language service providers, game developers, publishers, and translators. She mentioned that numerous factors might affect the outcome of the movement, like NDAs that prevent the leaking of information, how competitive the market is, the life cycle in game development, etc.

Translation technology is just a tool. Nothing more. Video game development is a creative endeavor that needs a human touch. Games have a lot of influence on our lifestyle and can greatly impact how we interact with each other. Many see the start of crediting translators and project managers from the localization and translation industry as a step in the right direction. Thanks to advice from experts in the field, here are a few solutions to right some of the wrongs of game localization. 

  • Recognize Translators — So far the movement has been successful as it has compelled game developers to start including translators, project managers, and localization specialists in the game’s credits. However, like with all movements, it can only make lasting changes within the gaming and translation industry by keeping up this momentum and not losing steam over time. 
  • Improve Compensation and Benefits — Low pay and time constraints of translating many projects are some of the reasons for a shortage of skilled labor within the translation services industry, especially for languages that are considered rare or endangered. The problem is that there’s no fixed rate on how much a translator earns per word or project. This discussion should be further explored in the coming years so that more language professionals will continue to want to stay and grow their careers in the translation localization and translation industry. 
  • Promote the Value of Translation and Localization — We won’t have a global market without language professionals in the localization and translation industry. Many still think translators use pen and paper when translating content. Technology has dramatically advanced over the years, and many translators personally use these technologies to make the process more efficient. Highly technical industries such as legal translation require translators to have nuanced expertise of two or more legal systems in the language service they offer. The more specialized they are in a field, it should be expected that they are compensated accordingly. Promoting what translators do for the gaming industry and other sectors can inspire next-generation language professionals and assure them that their work is valuable and irreplaceable, regardless of the technology developed in the coming years.

Conclusion 

The movement #TranslatorsInTheCredits was bound to happen. Movements like this will continue to arise in the coming years if nothing changes. Only time will tell if the movement has long-term effects within the gaming and translation industry. Human translation services will never truly be replaced by technology. Quality is a big concern in the gaming industry, partly due to relying too much on machine translation. But recognizing and putting a name or face on the people who make video games available worldwide is progress towards improving video game localization.