Introduction to Game Localization

Become a translator, tester or project manager specialized in gamelocalization and get paid for your gaming passion
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  • Lectures 80
  • Length 3 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 10/2013 English

Course Description

If you play localized games, this probably sounds familiar…

You’re playing your favorite game on a rainy winter afternoon. “Cool graphics! Amazing playability! Killer music! Stunning action! Wait a minute… What’s with all the spelling mistakes? That text doesn’t make sense! Who on earth translated this game!? I could’ve done a better job myself!”

Engage players in the game story

Learn the basic concepts behind game localization and specialize as a game translator, linguistic tester or game localization project manager.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Stages of the game localization process
    Introduction to game internationalization, the game translation process, different review methods, the importance of linguistic testing. Examine the challenges you’ll face in each stage and decide which part of the process you’d like to work on!

  • Differences between working in-house and as a freelancer
    Learn how to get acquainted with the game you’ll be translating, what reference material looks like, how to report queries, and examine general rates and salaries before you establish your own. Compare pros and cons, and select your ideal lifestyle!

  • The technical aspects
    Get a handle on translating texts with codes, conquer those dreaded variables and learn how not to exceed character limitations. All with real examples and plenty of practical exercises! Spend more time translating and less worrying about technical issues!

  • Translation and transcreation
    Translating a game is nothing like translating software, laws or contracts. It’s actually great fun! (That’s the brotherhood’s best kept secret: you’ll get paid for doing something fascinating!). You’ll have a blast learning how to define characters by how they speak, and translating names, character descriptions and even songs and poems! Improve your creativity and let your words take players on a rollercoaster of emotions!

  • Game localization testing
    You’d be amazed by the amount of errors that appear when the translated text is implemented in the game. This module teaches you to identify the main types of linguistic bugs and to write straightforward, useful and professional reports. Contribute to a successful translation by reporting bugs and improvements to polish the text until it’s perfect!

Are you ready to become a game localization professional? Then insert coin and… Let’s rock!

What are the requirements?

  • Some language skills in a language other than English
  • Microsoft Excel (any version) or any other spreadsheet software for exercises

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Examine the challenges you’ll face in each stage of the game localization process and choose where you’d like to work
  • Compare the pros and cons of working in-house or as a freelancer and select your ideal lifestyle
  • Learn how to spend more time translating and less worrying about technical issues
  • Improve your creativity and let your words take players on a rollercoaster of emotions
  • Learn to write professional bug reports and how to polish a translation until it’s perfect

Who is the target audience?

  • Translators looking to specialize in game localization
  • Project managers looking to expand their game localization knowledge
  • Developers looking to improve their internationalization processes and localize games
  • People who love games and languages
  • Anyone with an interest in the game industry looking to expand their job options

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction

¡Hola, amigos! My name is Pablo Muñoz and I am English-into-Spanish translator. This course is going to focus on lots of things, like the game localization process, working as an in-house translator or as a freelancer, technical aspects, translation and transcreation, localization testing… I’m sure you’ll learn many things and that you’ll enjoy a lot! ;)


Discover all the challenges that video game translators have to face in an amazing adventure in which the English-Spanish translator Pablo Muñoz is involved.

Music: Erik Skiff (


Welcome to the course! I really appreciate that you signed up for this video course on game localization, so let me say thank you before going straight to the point. :)


Before starting the course, I think it’s a good idea to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about how I ended working in the game localization industry. ;)

Section 2: The Game Localization Process

Welcome to Level 2! Let’s get started with internationalization, localization kits, the translation phase, the review phase and localization testing.


What is internationalization (i18n) apart from a very long word that is hard to pronounce? Well, check it out in this lesson!


The first i18n tip is… Leave enough space for larger texts!


The second i18n tip is… Use a variable width font!

Source for screenshots:


And the third i18n tip is… Use a font that supports all special characters from the beginning!


I know internationalization could be a little bit technical (don’t worry because that’s only for developers), so I have prepared this summary to group the previous three recommendations in just one example. :)


A localization kit consists of a number of different assets divided in different folders, such as source files, translated files, glossary, etc.


There are several things you need to know about the translation phase, such as the daily productivity or if you need to be a gamer to be a good video game translator. Well, check it out in this lesson! :)

All Your Base Are Belong To Us video:


There are several ways of proofing a translation. But which one is the best? Let’s see it. :)


What’s localization testing? Well, I think a picture (or a video) is worth a thousand words. :D

6 questions

Let's see what you've learned in the Level 2!

Section 3: Working In-house And As Freelancer

Welcome to Level 3! What do you prefer–working in-house or as a freelancer? See the topics we are going to cover in this module. :)


Being paid for playing is really great! But of course, it’s not about having fun and that’s it – there will be some things you need to note down while you are playing.

Source for the Bowser image in Super Mario RPG:


Context is really important when translating. Want to see an example? Well, check out this video! Next time you don’t receive reference material from your client, please ask for it! ;)


While you are translating a game, chances are you’ll have a lot of questions. That’s why queries are very important and why you need to know how to report them effectively.

Source of the Pokémon "nazi" picture:émon_controversy


We’ve studied queries in the previous section, but how do they look like? Check out this video to learn more about queries and don’t forget to download the file to have something for your first project! ;)

ISO 639 Code Tables:


Although normally clients give you a specific query template, here you have one if you don't have one. I hope it's useful! :)


Nothing can describe the experience of seeing your own translation on the screen for the first time, but here’s a video to show you how it could be. :)


What are the particularities of testing a game with in-house translators and testers? This lesson will cover some of them. :)


Have you ever heard about the Dark Side Translators and the Jedi Translators? Let’s talk about the different challenges that freelancers have to face. :)


Money can’t buy happiness, but hey, you can buy more games thanks to money! How much would you able to earn? Of course, these figures are what I got from my experience and by asking some other colleagues.


If you want to review all the pros and cons of working as an in-house translator or as a tester, then check this video out! ;)

6 questions

Let's see what you have learned in Level 3!

Section 4: The Technical Aspects

Welcome to Level 4, the technical aspects! We’ll have a quick look at a typical game file and we’ll work with “tags”, variables, character limitations and macros. But don’t be afraid of this module, because you’ll see many real examples and you’ll have some exercises to practice! :)


What are the main elements of a translation file? What’s and ID? Do you have some comments apart from the source text? Discover it in this lesson! :)


Do you want to download the game file we have seen in Excel? Well, here you go! ;)


So what are tags and how can you identify them? In this lesson, you’ll see some of them with a real example.


Do you want to practice your translation skills a little bit with tags? Well, here you have the example we just saw from Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat! ;)


Why tags are so important? Pay special attention to this video and check out the quiz! ;)

1 question

After watching the video of the previous lecture, which of the following sentences do you think is more accurate?


Let’s review the tags of the previous lesson in context and see what would have happened if the translator used the tags wisely. ;)


Now let’s watch another real example of tags, although this time you’ll see the original text next to the Nintendo DS screen. Pay special attention this time too, as there will be another quiz waiting for you! ;)

1 question

After watching the video of the previous lecture, which of the following sentences do you think is more accurate?


So what are the different tag types in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon? Check it out in this video. ;)


Want to know what happens if you don’t pay attention to tags? Well, I’m pretty sure you’ll be more careful after watching this lecture!


Sooner or later, you’ll come across some variables in game localization. But how they look like and how we can solve gender problems in other languages? Well, enter Pablo Muñoz’s tip for variables! ;)


Why is it so important to meet the character limitations? Well, I think this video is worth a thousand words. ;)

Note: The Fire Emblem example was modified by me, it's not like that in the original. ;)


Oh, yes, I love macros! They count all the characters in a cell automagically for you and tell you if you are exceeding the limit.

5 questions

Let's see what you have learned in Level 4!

Section 5: Translation And Transcreation

Hey, you’ve become a Super Saiyan if you are watching this lesson! But why I am saying this? Well, discover it by yourself watching this video. ;)


Welcome to Level 5, translation and transcreation! We’ll see what transcreation is, how to transcreate in 3 steps, and example of transcreation, the limits of transcreation and we’ll practice with a lot of exercises. :)


So what’s transcreation? Can you guess it? Discover its meaning in this lesson!

More info and source:


In this lecture we’ll see how you can transcreate in three easy steps. Are you ready? ;)

Source for the Son of a submariner example:


If you enjoyed the previous lecture on transcreation and you feel like practicing a bit, why don't you go ahead and use one of the meme generators out there to create an awesome and funny meme that you can share with your friends? Don't forget to share it with me via Twitter using my username @pmstrad! :)


If you think translating and transcreating is easy, be ready for this exercise, as you’ll have to identify the main issues in the text you’ll see! ;)

1 question

In the previous lecture, which three words (in order of appearance) could be hard to translate?


Now let’s analyze the three main issues that we would have if we were to localize this game. Stay tuned! :)

Eco Shooter Trailer:


Do you know that Eco Shooter was localized into Spanish? Let’s see if the translator’s solutions were good or if they could be improved. ;)


What are the limits of transcreation? Is it possible to localize as much as we want? Well, of course that’s going to depend on the game, but the important thing to know is that you need to recreate the effect of the original in the target language. :)

Source video:


Finally we put transcreation in practice! Let’s start with names, items and spells. Are you ready? 1, 2, 3, GO!


Translating character descriptions could be really funny and challenging. You don’t believe me? Well, you’ll tell me after you watch this lecture! ;)


How do pirates talk? And how can you characterize someone in a video game? Discover all of this in this lecture. :)

More info about the Chrono Cross accent system: and


If you want to practice your translantion and transcreation skills, here you have an Excel file with all the character names and descriptions of Bonsai Barber! In addition to this, you can find the first newspaper that appears in the game, which includes some play words, of course. ;) Be sure to check the reference screenshots!


Oh, yes, rhymes and songs! If you have to translate a game that has some rhymes (and believe me that will happen sooner or later), be prepared!

Source for the Silent Hill poem:'s_Drawing


This is a veeery tough challenge! Will you be able to translate the Child's Drawings of Silent Hill: Homecoming into your language while maintaining the rhymes? ;)


If you thought that translating text-based songs and rhymes was difficult, then you will not want to imagine how difficult would be translating songs to be sung. Or yes? Well, if that’s the case, this lecture is for you! ;)

Source for English video:

Source for Spanish video:


So you want a real translation challenge involving songs? Then try to localize this opera song with tags everywhere! ;)


In case you want to practice with the ultimate transcreation challenge, here's an Excel file with the contents of the opera song in Final Fantasy VI! You can try to see if it would be OK while watching the original video:

Good luck!

4 questions

Test Your Knowledge About Translation and Transcreation!

Section 6: Game Localization Testing

Welcome to Level 6, game localization testing! There are TONS of topics in this module, as we’ll see the different kind of system and linguistic bugs (and yes, there are a lot of them!), as well as accessibility and cultural issues. And last but not least, you’ll learn how to write effective bugs reports to be a great tester! ;)


Oh, bugs, dear bugs! No matter how well you prepare things—there will always be bugs. But wait, er… Do you know what a bug is? If not, then this lesson is for you! ;)

Video about the funny bug:

More about bugs:


Let’s start with system bugs! What are font issues? I bet you’ve seen them before, but it never hurts to revisit them. :)

Source for the FFIV example:


You translate everything and are eager to see your translation on screen, but suddenly you see there’s something wrong… The text is in German instead of Spanish!

Picture credits: and


When you play an unfinished game, there will be massive amount of unexpected issues, and some of them will be related to localization. Let’s see some examples.

Picture source:


What kind of misspelling and grammar mistakes can we find when testing a game? Let’s see some examples from very old games. :)

Source for the Zelda picture:


Be careful with mistranslations, as they can even create a legend! Don’t believe me? Then watch this video and tell me later! ;)

If you want to read more about the “Sheng Long” mistranslation legend, check out this link:

Recommended site:

Article about the localization of the first Zelda:


There’s nothing worse than see a word that is “cut” or that the text is longer than the actual text box. Do you want to know what I mean? Check this video out!

Source of the second picture in German:


You have to bear in mind that style is very subjective, so think it twice before reporting a style bug if it doesn’t add too much to the text! You know, the less unnecessary changes you make, the better. :)


Consistency is critical when there are several games of the same saga or when games are very big, since there’s nothing worse than use two translations for the same term by mistake.

Source for the Pokémon picture:


Do you know what the golden rule is when you are tester? No? OK, then this video is for you! Watch it as many times as you want! ;)


In game localization, translators don’t usually have access to the time codes, which means that some subtitles will disappear too fast or that they will stay on the screen too much time.


When developing a game, there could be some cultural issues in specific regions that the developer was not aware of. That’s why it’s always important to identify and report cultural issues.

Source for pictures: and


When playing a game, you have to take into account that there could be some hearing-impaired or even daltonic players who can enjoy a better gaming experience if some little things are considered. Well, let’s have a look at them to create a better (gaming) world! ;)


A bug report has a loooot of things, so that’s why this lecture will provide you with everything you need to know! I know it can be overwhelming, but don’t worry, we’ll see everything in practice in the next lecture.


If you need a bug report template, here you go! :)


Now let’s see all the elements of a bug report in context. I am sure you’ll enjoy this one! ;)


WNF, WAI, NB… Have you seen them before? No? Well, then this lecture will teach you one or two things you didn’t know! ;)

7 questions

Let's see what you have learned in Level 6!

Section 7: Wrapping Up

Do you need more? Remember that you can always ask me anything you want, but anyway, here are three books that I am sure you’ll enjoy. ;)

Here are the links:

- The Game Localization Handbook (2nd ed.):

- Game QA & Testing:

- Game Testing All in One:


Oh, well, it’s so sad, but this is the end of the course… But don’t worry, because… See you next mission! ;)

Section 8: Bonus!

You'll be familiar with these bugs, but anyway, I found this video very funny! :) Say thanks to @DreamInASkull, who recommended it to me. :)


I couldn't stop laughing at this... You have to watch this, believe me! :D


I know many of you speak Spanish, so I am sure you'll like this video. It's long, but it's worth to watch. :D

And if you want to watch the worst Spanish dubbing ever, just watch this! It's really INCREDIBLE lol

Multi-line Character Count Macro

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Instructor Biography

Pablo Muñoz Sánchez, English > Spanish Video Game Translator

I’m Pablo Muñoz and I have 6 years of experience translating video games, software, websites and apps from English into Spanish. When I’m not busy working on translation projects, I write a well-known blog about translation called Algo más que traducir, teach courses and speak at specialized conferences on video game localization. You can find more information about my projects in my professional website.

I’m currently based in Madrid, Spain. Why? An agency hired me to work as an external part-time translator, proofreader and tester for the localization department at one of the leading multinationals in the Internet search engine and technology sector. I’ve been honing my professional localization skills there since 2010, especially in software and app localization and testing (QA).

The job that genuinely got my career off the ground was my two-year stint at Nintendo of Europe in Frankfurt, Germany. My work there as a game translator and tester on a highly-specialized international team helped me make up my mind to gear my career towards projects with a strong creative and technological profile.

On top of all that, I spent my spare time in Germany studying a European MA in Audiovisual Translation at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, where I learnt all about dubbing, subtitling and localization, among many other things. So much so that in 2011, my former lecturers asked me to teach some of the units of the software localization module of the MA.

To sum it up, here are my specialties:

- Game Localization (Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, Wii, Wii :U, Nintendo 3DS)
- App Localization (iOS -iPhone and iPad-, Android)
- Website Localization (WordPress, Drupal, HTML + CSS, other)
- Software Localization (PC, Help/Documentation)
- QA and Localization Testing
- Programming Languages: Visual Basic, VBA

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