Translation technology | 15.03.2010

Wii can do it! Spanish game fans to translate Japanese video game

In an unprecedented collaboration between members of the Spanish gaming community and publishers of the Wii game Fragile Dreams: Ruins of the Moon, around fifty volunteers will translate the game’s script into Spanish. Due to be released in US and European markets on 16 and 19 March respectively, it is hoped that the Spanish language version will follow shortly.

With a script containing more than 35,000 words – the translation project is no mean feat. But when DSWii.es contacted Japanese publishers Rising Star Games with the idea, an advertisement for volunteer translators was posted and fifty eager recruits were enrolled. However, on accessing the translation website – fragile.blogocio.net – it appears that a grand total of 0% translation has been carried out to date. With just over a week until the European release, it would appear that initial estimates of translation timescales were highly optimistic!

In a press release, Hugo Fraga – Director of Content and Marketing at Blogocio Media SL (DSWii.es’s parent company) – stated that ‘The most important aspect of this translation is not that the game arrives in Spanish, but that this is the first time in history in which gamers will participate actively in the development process or the localisation of a title.’

Yet even though this collaboration has been hailed as the first of its kind in relation to an officially sanctioned translation carried out by fans, it was still unclear from the website as to what was on offer for the Spanish language version. Available as a free ‘digital download’ via DSWii.es and the Rising Star’s Hoshi portal, questions were being asked for verification as to if this was a language patch to integrate files onto the console itself via the SD card. Through the comments page, it appears that the translated material will be a PDF downloadable booklet which can be printed out and consulted whilst playing the game. If this is indeed the case, surely a leaflet or PDF file is far removed from the culture of video games whereby attention is focussed on the screen. And with an estimated 400 million speakers of Castilian Spanish worldwide, surely a language patch would have been the best option.

Nevertheless, the volunteer translators have been applauded for their efforts, but the company itself has received some criticism in its failure to employ professional translators and programmers to create the patch. However, as an interesting aside, some users were pleased that playing video games in English had improved their language skills!

Crowdsourcing is an increasingly popular option for companies – but it is a risky path to follow. Undoubtedly, overall costs are less if volunteers are employed, but the importance of using professional translators must not be forgotten. Fragile Dreams: Ruins of the Moon sold over 26,000 copies in Japan in its first week of release which made it the second most popular video game at the time. It remains to be seen whether the figures will translate quite so well in Spain.


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