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21 Feb 2014

Writing Easily Translatable Text For Your Mobile Game

If you want to make the biggest splash in mobile gaming, you need to have a mobile game that is available in multiple regions around the world. This means you need to have your mobile game available in multiple languages, because if you don’t, you are literally missing out on found money. Why wouldn’t gamers in Spain be just as eager to play your game as those in the UK (and vice-versa)? Moreover, if they can’t read the text in your game and in your game’s description on each respective app store, what makes you think they are going to download your game?

That’s why writing easily translatable text in your mobile game and your game’s description is vital to increasing the reach of your mobile game, your future mobile games, and your brand as a whole (and of course, this applies to non-mobile games as well). Once the text is easily translatable, hiring someone that can translate it properly should be a piece of cake. Use the following tips to ensure your text can be easily translatable, thus increasing your game’s reach in the process.

Write simple, straightforward sentences

When writing your game’s description and in-game text for English speakers, you can get away with writing occasional complex sentences, using unique phrases, and so on. This can cause a lot of confusion among non-English speakers, which is why you will likely need to rewrite your game’s description, in-game text, and other text associated with your mobile game to ensure it translates easily.

When rewriting, ensure that your text is simple yet straightforward. Eliminate as many words as possible in each sentence, and ensure each sentence is to the point. For example, if your game stars a detective searching for clues and he/she says, “the suspect was jogging and while he was out he saw Mr. Brown and murdered him.” This complex sentence could confuse a lot of non-English readers when translated. To make the job of the translator easier while ensuring the point the detective is trying to make comes across as smoothly as possible, you would want to rewrite the sentence to the following:

“The suspect was jogging. He saw Mr. Brown and murdered him.”

See how simple that reads? The point comes across all the same but in an easier to read manner. The text is easily translatable too, so whomever was hired to translate this text would be able to do it quite easily.

Never use slang

This is a big one. Over time, certain slang words become so ingrained into our language that we use these words without even thinking about it. Unfortunately, slang words do not translate from one language to another. Using the detective example again, if you used the phrase, “the blonde bombshell walked into my office, and the school boy in me was noticing how smoking hot she was. She cleared her throat to avert my attention from her stunning looks, and I was back to being a professional.”

It paints a nice picture, but for those speaking a different language, they have no idea what’s going on in this scene:

  • Blonde bombshell
    • Many non-English readers may see a blonde bombshell as a bomb that’s actually yellow/has blonde hair. A very confusing term.
  • ‘The school boy in me’
    • Again, confusing. Some readers may believe the detective has a young boy living inside of him (which of course doesn’t make sense).
  • Smoking hot
    • What is ‘smoking hot?’ Is the woman’s body temperature rising so much that smoke is appearing around her? Sure, as English speakers we know what this means, but what about someone that isn’t aware of the term ‘smoking hot?’ Again, very confusing.

When you eliminate the slang (and using the first tip), you are left with a scene that reads like this:

“An attractive woman walked into my office. I could not stop staring at her until she cleared her throat to get my attention. When she did, I returned to being a professional again.”

Now that’s an easily translatable sentence that will not cause any confusion whatsoever.

Use a consistent tone throughout your text

Rewriting your text to ensure it is simple to read can be difficult enough. Yet, ensuring the tone is consistent as you rewrite the text will present its own set of challenges. You have to make certain that the tone continues to remain identical to your original text, because let’s face it: if a character in your game says something that is supposed to be humorous but the text is written in a serious tone, the player is going to be confused. Consistent tone coupled with short, clear (and slang free) sentences is key to your game being easily translated.

Proofread, proofread, proofread!

After you finish rewriting the content, proofread everything. Make necessary changes, and after that? Proofread again! Ensure everything is perfect before sending it to be translated, and your content will be easily translatable no matter which language it needs to be translated into!

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