A Look at Translating Video Games, Comics and Movies

As mentioned in previous posts, comics, video games, gaming consoles and mobile games and apps have long since evolved from being for kids and teens only. More and more adults are joining in and devoting much of their time to these activities. The wide reach and widespread growth of these products is made even more obvious as comics transcend the pages they’re printed on to become films, and oftentimes, video games. Likewise, some original video games gain such popularity that they are quickly adapted for the big screen. It is a very close relationship.

As a result of this widespread growth and globalization, the tasks of translation and localization become necessary. There are several factors to consider when adapting a comic, video game or movie depending on the target culture and language.

Comics and video games, depending on the story or plot, can sometimes contain a lot of swearing, sexual and violent language and expressions related to historical events and we must be careful because some audiences or different cultures might be more sensitive to such narratives. In this case, something that we have discussed previously comes into play: adaptation. It could be said that in these cases, the translation becomes more of a transcreation, in which the translation focuses more on feelings. Specifically, we must remember that video games are software, which come with instructions, and thus require a more technical translation. The story however, is more related to literary texts or film scripts, where the translator has to be a little more creative, taking into account the rules and guidelines for this type of translation. It is an entertaining mix and it is often necessary for several translators with different areas of expertise to work together to translate this type of material.

It is important to take these reminders into account, because this type of translation is very common today. So, to summarize, we can say that when translating comics, video games and movies, we follow similar rules regarding, for example, cultural and language adaptation, time and space constraints for text and above all, the need for creativity.