Serious games are a relatively new genre to the game industry, but in many ways, these types of games are becoming more and more important not just to the companies that make them, but the audience they serve. Unlike regular video games, which are meant strictly to entertain, the “serious games” genre has education in mind.
Serious games need creative translations
Everyone knows that “learning by doing” is an effective teaching tool, and it’s become clear over the years that one of the great strengths of games is the interactive nature of the medium. Instead of simply being a passive audience member as most traditional lectures and video lessons require, games allow the audience to participate, engage and experiment in a safe, encouraging environment. As a result of this, serious games are becoming important teaching tools to help students come to grips with many concepts, whether it’s languages, physics or mathematics.
However, the one important thing people need to keep in mind when it comes serious games is the “game,” aspect, and this also includes the style of language used. Past attempts at serious games in previous decades simply tried to hide quizzes, exercises and other standard academic drills on a screen instead of on paper. They were essentially simply digital homework, and the students responded predictably to these attempts, becoming bored and losing interest.
Entertaining the participant is what keeps them engaged and interested in learning.
Serious games of today understand that entertaining the participant is what keeps them engaged and interested in learning. The language used plays an important role in this, and while it may be easy to craft the appropriate tone in the native language of the game’s creators, translating this into other languages should be left to specialists, not some simple translation software that will likely leave a flat, literal translation that is barely comprehensible.
The importance of the tone
This is where services like ITC Global Translations excel. It’s not simply a matter of exchanging one language for another, often the tone of the language will have to be readjusted to take into account the cultural reactions and idioms of that audience. A quick, disposable pun or joke about baseball, for example, is unlikely to have the same impact—or even comprehension—in a country where baseball is either unpopular, or not played at all, such as Thailand, where Football is one of the dominant sports. In such cases, translation will attempt to preserve the spirit and tone of the original content, but will rely on concepts more familiar to the culture of the new target market. The important thing to note is that the language will still be about engaging and entertaining. After all, a joke translated literally is often flat and, at worst, even more alienating to a student than a lecture.
This is why translations for serious games need a delicate, expert touch. ITC Global Translations has extensive experience in a broad spectrum of media, including serious games. We understand that the goal is to keep the audience invested and we work hard to preserve the original, lively intent of the language to better serve the lessons embedded in the content. If you have a serious game that you’d like to bring to other countries, we’d be happy to discuss the translation requirements with you, so that more students can benefit from the advantages of a fun, engaging, interactive learning environment.