You may love gaming, and it’s a fun way to pass the time at home during a pandemic. But have you considered earning money and contributing to game quality by translating them? During the Coronavirus crisis, it’s a great way to use the time productively and earn funds to invest in TP or facemasks. According to Tomedes, a professional translator who knows gaming is a much-valued resource. The more popular titles tend to be clean, but others could use some serious help.
Translation Opportunities in the Gaming Industry: Crunching the Numbers
According to Statista, the video gaming industry is huge and shows no signs of slowing down. While there were almost 1.8 billion video gamers across the world in 2014, this figure is estimated at 2.6 billion gamers in 2020. That’s 44% growth in just 6 years, over 7% annually.
The gaming industry bridges East and West. In 2018, there were 1.2 billion video gamers in the Asia Pacific Region, generating revenue of $71.4 billion, about double what is generated by games in North America. About 10% of the world’s players – more than 250 million — are from the United States. 66% of Americans play video games, mostly on their smartphones, up from 58% just five years before. 217 million Americans are estimated in 2020 to play games on their phones.
This vast worldwide activity means gamers can make extra money by translating games into their mother tongue. We’ll look at how linguistically talented people who love to play can earn money while feeding their gaming appetite. We’ll consider the employment opportunities and provide tips for getting ahead as a game translator.
Game Localization Services and Translation Services: Coming to Terms
What is localization? How does it differ from translation? The industry niche relevant to game translators is called localization. The localization definition comprises factors that make a gamer feel “at home”. The term includes language translation but also adaptations of number and date formats, currency and measurement units. It also considers cultural preferences in various locales so communications and graphics strike the right tone.
What does localization mean in video games? Specialized app localization services and tools to assist developers in preparing multilingual versions. This software can detect where you are playing and thus which local version to serve you. Alternatively, it can provide a menu to help you choose the version you prefer even you play elsewhere.
Developers incorporate localization software as part of their development stack. Localization is a technical function, involving coding knowledge. It’s rare to find a popular title available in only one language, although most if not all started with one language and then expanded to more. However, it’s even rarer that a developer will have dedicated linguistic teams for each language supported.
Instead, software developers outsource linguistic aspects of game localization, website translation, and social media localization to a company or agency that knows the ropes. In practice, then, the terms localization and translation are used interchangeably, even if there are distinctions between the two. The lion’s share of video game localization involves translating language. The more technical functions are handled by the localization software and usually the dev team.
In a Pandemic, Where and How Can You Find Translation Service Jobs?
During the Coronavirus pandemic, gaming is likely to increase. There are three main channels to find translating work even if English is not your native tongue (you can improve!). Let’s consider them one by one:
1. Working directly for game development studios
How to break into translation? If you are a fanatic about a specific gaming franchise or gaming company, there’s always the possibility of approach the company directly. Go to their website and social media channels. Check out career opportunities. Studios love to hire gamers who love to play. Gaming geeks are often started out in quality assurance, trying to find bugs — potential sources for error, including linguistic mistakes.
Tip: when applying for a job, mention any language skills you have: if you are bilingual or trilingual, say so. Asian language proficiency is especially desirable. If you have what it takes to be a Japanese translator, whether you translate Japanese to English, or English to Japanese, don’t hide that potential. Japanese to English translation skill is in high demand. Consider this fascinating read from Kotaku about the odyssey of a gamer who became a professional gaming translator.
2. Finding work as a translator in freelance marketplaces
Gaming studios often go freelance marketplaces like Upwork, Freelancer.com and Fiverr to seek talent. So make a profile, outline your skills and interests, list experience in quality assurance, translation, and proofreading. Highlight your attention to detail.
Tip: Set rates low at first, then increase as ratings and reviews push you up in the ranks. Rates are calculated per hour or, for specific projects, per word in the source document. Start as low as $10/hour or $0.01 per word to gather experience and clients. Then escalate! Build your assets and score to reach new levels!
3. Finding work with localization and translation service providers
Localization companies also recruit via freelance marketplaces, so don’t be surprised if you are headhunted by an agency. If you put up a profile that includes experience in gaming translation, you may be a recruitment target for localization companies.
A tip: making the transition from freelance marketplace to working for a localization agency can be tricky. The marketplaces don’t like poaching, because they lose their cut. You are not allowed to work outside with a client found there. The workaround: usually the agency will pay for a job or two inside the marketplace. Then, once they have a direct channel of communications with you, they may propose, discreetly, a direct relationship. But be careful: this is a slippery slope. A good rule of thumb, if not linguistically correct, is “to dance with the one who brung ya!”
Final tip: Use machine language translation, but carefully. We recently recognized Google Translate as one of the most useful apps. It’s useful both for travel and for your professional work. Just be sure not to pass off Mr. Google’s Translations to clients as your own. A client can do the same: they’re not paying you to copy-and-paste!
Bottom line is that even in the serious climate of the COVID-19 pandemic, many players will use a good portion of quarantine time to play their favorite gaming titles. Why not use your downtime productively and learn a skill that you can translate to income while doing what you love!