If you love gaming and have been blessed to grow up in a bilingual or even multilingual environment, here is your chance to advance your career or earn some extra income on the side. Tomedes CEO and owner Ofer Tirosh say that one of the best and most lucrative ways of making money online is by establishing yourself as a translator online.
And perhaps one of the most in-demand niches for translation is for video games. Anyone who can speak two or more languages should easily be able to earn cash from the comforts of home or to start a home-based career translating and localizing video games.
We will show you the ABCs of preparing to earn money from home, even if you choose to work in the basement as nothing more than your underwear. Just remember to get dressed before you fire up your Zoom or other video conferencing programs.
Coming to Terms: Gameloc, Translation, and Localization?
“Game localization” is a mouthful, and that’s why insiders abbreviate it as “gameloc.” You’ll find insider information by searching for work and information using this slang. But don’t forget that not everybody is an insider, so use the formal terminology when conversing with customers and in listing your specializations on profiles and portfolios.
Translation and localization are sometimes confused, but they are “two horses of a different color.” Translation involves adapting texts from one natural language to a second. Literal translation sticks close to the word-for-word meaning of a text. Transcreation, on the other hand, affords the translator more freedom to infer the intent of the other. In either case, translation is focused exclusively on the words.
Game localization involves more. Localization makes content convey authenticity to a local. Sure, translating into the local language and dialect is a big part of this challenge. But localizing content also involves converting numbers and date formats along with adapting currency and measurement units.
Most significantly, localization involves considering cultural nuances and sensitivities. What is said in one place or may offend in another: expressions that pass as acceptable in one location are “fighting words” elsewhere. A localization specialist considers these matters at every stage.
Language industry experts at Slator peg game localization as accounting for 1 to 2 percent of the $138 billion global gaming industry in 2019, so about $1.5-3 billion, give or take. Much of that is earned by licensing localization tools. Most localization agencies and gaming studios employ translation management and other software programs to handle dozens of languages to cover a global gaming audience.
That’s not your main concern: now. your primary value-add will be your language abilities and your knowledge of gaming. Focus on your mother-tongue linguistic skills and game niches you know best.
Do you want to be a freelancer or an employee? What do you need to know?
The first question you’ll need to answer for yourself is this: do you prefer to work as an employee of a company or as a freelancer? There are hundreds of game localization companies out there. Some still have actual offices – some of which are a joy to work in and a social experience as well.
But, especially after the onset of the “recent unpleasantness,” more and more development studio and localization companies are more than happy to outsource work either to freelancers or work-at-home employees. If you are self-motivated and can handle isolation (or working with a spouse jabbering and kids crawling up your leg – or vice versa), then ditch the commute and the masks.
If you opt for the freelance route, the first thing you need to do is research. Just search for “gameloc” or “game localization” plus whatever genres or languages are up to your alleys. Consider adding your location too, even if you work from home.
Companies like to hire locals and have the option to meet in person, even if you rarely do. There are plenty of articles with tips for mastering the art of game localization.
Translation and localization don’t require certification, but you see a course which seems interesting, it always helps to have proof that you’ve put in the hours to complete a course. It will look great on your online profile and distinguish you from the untrained.
You should expect that many would-be employers and clients will not trust a piece of paper or any experience you claim. They’ll put you to the test, either in a video conference or in an online test, either of your technical language skills or your knowledge of the localization process.
Our advice, first and foremost, is, to tell the truth, even if the truth is not what you think the other side wants to hear. Don’t risk being caught in a lie or exaggeration. Make sure you are prepared: each time you’re approaching a new client or studio, research their LinkedIn profile, website, and portfolio. Know exactly what they make, what their values are, and what they’re looking for in terms of work resources. Then be that guy or gal!
4 Steps to Finding Work in the Game Localization Marketplace
There are a few ways you can land your first gigs in gaming.
1. Get into a gaming company and flash your translation skills
Many localization experts began in game design, development, sales or marketing, or even as an intern or assistant. Once your proverbial foot is in the door, let colleagues know you’re a cunning linguist. Sooner or later, you’ll be recruited to do the translation.
2. Join a translation agency and have them assign you to game projects
Translation companies do a lot of localization, so if a translation agency approaches you, sooner or later you will have a chance to get into localizing games.
3. Approach agencies that are exclusively about localizing games
Localization agencies are likely on the lookout for freelancers, but you need not wait for a call. Do your online research, find their careers page, and submit an email with your resume, portfolio, and any client references. Convey your knowledge and enthusiasm.
4. Check industry “translator wanted” listings
Visit gaming resource sites such as SourceForge’s translation help wanted listings.
Market Yourself as Translator or Localizer in a General Marketplace
General-purpose freelance marketplaces like Freelancer.com, Fiverr, and Upwork are hives of activity for potential gaming and agency clients seeking translation resources.
Sign up free and try getting game translation work. You create a profile page, describe your interests and skills, showing reviews and ratings, and post your rates.
To get your first gig, set your prices low. See what other translators and localizers in language or location are bidding and undercut them. As you accumulate good reviews and high ratings, increase your rates to reflect your rising reputation.
Consider the challenge of getting a job in localization as you would a video game. Patience and persistence are the keys to success. Accumulating assets and moving forward, slowly but surely, will help you get gigs, not lost in translation.