Beyond Words: Tips for Translating In-Game Text with Cultural Context in Mind

As more gamers worldwide become more savvy and open-minded about their purchases and word of mouth is more vital than ever through the internet, ensuring a video game has a high-quality translation can make or break a game’s reputation and, thus, its sales. Despite this pressure, the processes of internationalization, translation, and culturalization provide exciting challenges and rewards for game localization services worldwide, who take professional satisfaction in knowing they’ve delivered the ideal version of a game creator’s vision to players worldwide. As game makers want to reach a global audience, translating in-game content has become necessary. However, the process necessitates a thorough awareness of cultural context and linguistic precision.

The Process of Translation

Text strings from repositories and audio files are translated as part of the translation activity. The words in a game’s dialogue and text elements, including text within images, are appropriately interpreted by professional translators who usually work for game localization companies. It also guarantees that words and phrases are used correctly in the context of the target language, country, or location. Furthermore, translated game content must sound natural in the context of the gamer. It must be relevant to their cultural background.

Translators and reviewers must be given adequate time to become acquainted with regional norms and glossaries. Guidelines should ideally be supported with sample translations in both the translator’s native and translated language.

Furthermore, translators should be exposed to the game while it is in play to understand better the characters’ experiences and the creator’s vision. In some circumstances, developers can also supply translators with web apps so that they can become more familiar with the UI text parts.

Finally, there is some dispute in the industry over the possible benefits of giving translators access to the developer’s staging server, which would help them grasp the content in context. Please consult your preferred game localization agency beforehand if you contemplate this option.

While excellent translations of any game are essential for audience engagement, narrative-based game translations are necessary to do right. Gamers want a strong plot in addition to good gameplay. They want to become engrossed in the story and go through it as if they were a part of it. That is why having a high-quality translation for narrative-based games is critical.

Here are some important things to consider when translating these types of games:

1. Keep the Same Tone and Voice

Each scriptwriter has a unique tone and writing style. A good script translation should try to capture the original’s personality as much as possible. To begin, read other works by the same author to get a sense of how they write. Immersing yourself in their text will help you understand the various subtleties and styles.

Second, learn about the civilization that produced the original work. Understanding the text’s original cultural background will inform your translation.

2. Include Supplemental Information When Necessary

What is evident to one audience may not always be obvious to another. If this is the case, you’ll need to include additional words or phrases not found in the original text to help readers comprehend. These additional words or phrases should aid in clarifying the ideas and messages you are attempting to express.

3. Be Familiar With the Characters and Plot

It goes without saying, but read and thoroughly study the script. Learn about the characters, the plot, and the literary techniques used by the original author. Learn about the plot’s cultural and political context. The better your translation, the more you will comprehend the plot and the characters.

4. Graphics and Symbols Should be Localized

In-game text isn’t only words; it also includes symbols, graphics, and icons. Ensure that these visual elements are culturally appropriate and do not convey unintentional meanings. Symbols and colors can have different connotations in different cultures, so make the proper changes to avoid misunderstandings.

5. Be Careful When Using Humor, Idioms, or Metaphors

Humor, idioms, and metaphors are all powerful literary devices for engaging your readers. However, when used in a different cultural context, similar tactics may produce more confusion when translated directly.

When utilizing idioms or metaphors, always use caution. You might need to replace these phrases with something more recognizable to your audience. Alternatively, rather than attempting to locate a direct parallel phrase, you might simply explain the content of your statement.

6. Write as Though it Were a Story

The goal is not simply to translate but to immerse your audience in your game’s story. This means the translation should read like a story rather than merely a translation. Read the translation aloud. Everything should make sense and flow smoothly.

This is why having a writer and a translator translate your game script is critical. A professional translation will not appear to be a translation at all. Rather, it is engrossing and immerses viewers in the story completely.

7. Balance Functional and Literal Translation

While capturing the substance of the original text is critical, some words or idioms may not have clear equivalents in the target language. Prioritize functional translation in such instances. Even if it means departing from an exact translation, the goal is to communicate the same meaning and feeling.

8. Playtesting and Feedback

Conduct playtests with representatives from the target culture once the in-game text has been translated. Gather input on how the translations sound in the context of the game. This feedback loop might assist in identifying any cultural challenges or opportunities for improvement. More on this topic can be found at isaimini blog.


Translating in-game text while keeping cultural context in mind is a difficult but necessary undertaking for game developers who want to appeal to a global audience. Effective game translation improves the gaming experience by making it more accessible and pleasant for users worldwide.

Your game localization agency or translation team will work with you to advise and guide you on the specific studies and steps you need to take to prepare your game files, documentation, and team for the translation leg of your game creation journey.

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