Violent Games, Local Tastes

from the from-blood-to-oil dept

I’ve dealt with a few projects in my lifetime that required “localization”. In almost every case, almost all of the “localization” meant “translating any words into the local language” and nothing more. However, when it comes to video games, it appears that localization can mean quite a bit more work. Due to various laws and regulations, companies are finding that they need to tweak the content of their video games for many of the international markets they enter. The article talks about Carmageddon as an example. In the US version, you drove like crazy and ran over whatever people got in your way, splattering blood all over the place. The UK deemed that too gory and insisted that the people you were running over be turned into zombies who splattered green blood. In Germany, it was robots, oozing black oil. It’s gotten to the point where one group is even working on a specific “localization engine” for games – designed to make just such a process easier (though, the details of how it works aren’t explained very clearly). Of course, I wonder how much interest there is in “bootleg” out-of-country games there are. I imagine kids in the UK would want to download the gorier American version, for example, so this could be yet another example where local laws don’t really mean much in an online world.

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Comments on “Violent Games, Local Tastes”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Why assume everyone wants indecenc y?

The macho libertarian ethic in techie circles dictate that people invariably want the goriest, crudest, nudiest version of everything. It could be that some people do value decency. Why not have Mormon versions of US games in which coffee shops never appear? Perhaps there is an unrealized potential in Extreme Sanitization. Perhaps the US could export more games to places like Saudi Arabia if all human faces are always covered. Techies are obliged to point to Arab teenagers who are enthusiastic customers of violence or nudity, but does this not fuel backlash in the long run? If we could make products more decent, more pure than their own culture can make them, we could have masses of older Arabs stampeding into software stores.

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

It's more than language

Localization involves a lot more than translations into various languages.

You have to understand the various cultures where the product will be used and pay attention to things like color as well.

In some countries, the use of colors like yellow and brown are frowned upon because these colors represent ‘foul’ substances such as urine and feces.

In the U.S., it’s common to use green to indicate good or go and red as bad or stop. These colors take on different meanings in other countries and cultures.

The company that I work for has developed a massive internal-use-only guide for product localization. Some of the items listed make you stop and say “Huh, why is that a problem?”, but it’s important to the customer, and we do try to be customer oriented…

Anonymous Coward says:

More restrictions in the US?

Along the same lines, US businesses may sell products abroad that are illegal here. Despite the notion that Asians cannot drink alcohol, alcohol is more popular in Asia than the US as a social outlet. Starbucks in Japan now sells alcohol:

(in Japanese)

I think I heard Euro Disney also sells alcohol.

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