The Linguist

The Linguist 57,3 – June/July 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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@Linguist_CIOL JUNE/JULY The Linguist 15 FEATURES Why classical Chinese literature takes centre stage in the nation's video games and what this means for translators. By Dariush Robertson C hina's video game market has now become the largest in the world, worth US$27.5bn. 1 Over the past few years, an increasing number of Chinese video games have been translated into English, and then into other languages using English as a relay language. This rapid growth has created an increasing demand for Chinese-to-English video game translators, who, with the right skills and mind-set, can expect to receive a number of such projects a year. Each project can involve tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of characters. However, Chinese games can be very different from the games typically played in the West, presenting some unusual translation challenges. Therefore, any budding Chinese- to-English games translator cannot rely solely on Chinese language skills and a knowledge of Western video games to succeed. The journey begins When I started freelancing in 2011, I was surprised to find an advert for a Chinese-to- English video game translation project. While I had always been passionate about gaming, I did not know much about Chinese video games. Most games published in the West tend to be from Western developers such as Activision Blizzard (US) and Ubisoft (France), or Japanese developers including Nintendo and Square Enix. Yet I was confident that my experience of video games and translation would be sufficient. My career as a Chinese-to- English video game translator, however, did not begin until I had passed a series of tests. The standard way of entering this industry is by registering with localisation agencies. This typically involves email correspondence, informal online interviews and then translation tests. Most agencies have several tests on different genres, from massive multiplayer online games (MMORPGs) to casual puzzle games for tablets and smart phones. Freelancers decide which tests to take, each containing around 300-500 characters, and are usually given one or two days. Once accepted, the freelancer is asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), placed on a register and contacted when required. MMORPG translation forms the mainstay of work for Chinese-English games translators, amounting to around half the video games I work on. Not only are there a lot of them, but they also tend to contain a high volume of text, so one MMORPG can contain as much text as several games from other genres. Reliving the classics The first thing that struck me about the majority of Chinese video games, was how Getting China's game © SHUTTERSTOCK

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