Today, let’s meet Machiko, who’s been working in game localization for seven years.
Machiko was born and raised in Japan, which famously harbors many seminal game development companies, like Nintendo, SEGA, and Konami. If she ever thought about what jobs were available in gaming, she’d have imagined programming, designing, and planning were at the forefront. Yet, as she says, “Localization jobs, such as translating games made overseas into a local language, recording voice dubbings, and checking the quality in LQA, seem to be unknown to many players compared to the above development positions. Yes, it is not a job that is directly involved in the production process, but it plays a very important role in delivering the produced work to users in their home country in a better way.”
Machiko started out enjoying games like most of us, specifically animal simulations and RPGs. She credits her love of story-central games as being a big influence in her work in localization. “I trained my language skills on my own and started my career as an LQA tester at a company that specializes in localization from English to Japanese.”
The localization tester is responsible for ensuring that all text in a game is not just properly translated, but also fits the culture into which it’s being ported. Yet, checking for social norms and slang wasn’t the difficulty for Machiko: “I had the most trouble with text-related problems caused by differences between the structures of English and Japanese. For example, English consists of sentences, and sentences can be separated by words and phrases, but Japanese has limited parts where sentences are separated, so corrections must be made by changing the representation of the text.”
For Machiko, success in localization isn’t just about English comprehension. “I was a student in the faculty of letters at my university, so at that time I had a wide range of reading experience from contemporary Japanese novels to overseas literary works. But I think that experience is also useful for accumulating vocabulary and expressions necessary for relighting (text change).”
She spent some time working for indie titles, supporting developers by creating and publishing images for PR, and helping exhibit games at the Tokyo Game Show. But it wasn’t until her localization work that she realized the importance of a global viewpoint. “In order to translate and correctly localize works based on foreign cultures, it is essential to examine the culture, history, and background of the country in which the work was produced, whether it is literature, movies, or games. As I continue to do this work, I feel that it is very important not only to focus on what I am interested in, but also to keep a broad eye on what is happening in the world and actively gather information.”
Machiko is currently in charge of coordination for LQA in Asian languages in the global localization division. She started out with a fully Japanese staff, but over time employees from other countries joined the workforce.