LocJam: Calling All Game Localizers


Are you a game localization company looking for new talents? Or a freelance localizer looking for a challenge? From February on, keep an eye on the **LocJam website**.

No Easy Task

Game localizers must have the imaginative and linguistic skills necessary to help gamers cross the imaginary borders into new imaginary worlds. At the same time, they need to have a good knowledge of multimedia and software localization.

To complicate things even further, game localization is often done against short deadlines as well as a lack of context and visuals.

To this we can add - in the case of online games - the plot being developed as the game progresses, based on the requests and choices of the gamers themselves. Online games can be as simple as Candy Crush or as complex as SimCity, but they are definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Suspension of Disbelief Through Quality Assurance

A semblance of reality is also essential in game localization. Consistency of language and terminology within the game helps strengthen the sense of being in another world. For this reason, quality assurance is fundamental.

Quality assurance is based on solid, lean processes. It requires tools that are efficient, comprehensive and sophisticated, without being too complicated. To guarantee consistency in all elements of a game, termbases and translation memories updated in real-time within a collaborative platform are a must.

So, whether you are a rookie translator with a passion for games, an experienced translator looking for a new challenge, or a localization company in need of new talents, where do you start looking?

Everywhere You Are… Start LocJammin’

Founded in 2013, the LocJam contest is a nonprofit initiative aimed at spreading the word about game localization. The format is simple: For ten days, game localizers - both professionals and amateurs - can submit their version of a game through the LocJam website.

You can simply participate online or join one of the in-person workshops that are organized all over the world by expert localizers.

The source language is English and the organization accepts translations into French, German, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, European Spanish and Latin American Spanish.

Backstage some of the largest game localization agencies (of the caliber of Binari Sonori and Keywords Studio) will volunteer to review the translations - in anonymous form - and then pick winners among the professional and amateur participants.

The first edition in 2014 saw some 511 participants; for the second edition, in 2015, 623 people registered. According to Alain Dellepiane, an Italian game localizer living in Tokyo and initiator of the LocJam contest on behalf of the IGDA Localization SIG, this year’s edition could see over 800 participants. But we are ready to up the ante and say 1,000.

A Win-Win Situation

As said before, participation is free and there are no actual prizes - no money or trophies.

The game that the participants are required to translate has no commercial value: It has never been translated or sold before and it will never be sold in any form whatsoever. The same goes for the participants’ work: Translations won’t be sold and/or reused in any way.

And yet, at LocJam everybody is a winner. The participants get to test their knowledge and make their skills shine, while the game localization companies have a chance to discover fresh talents - besides identifying new trends. Visibility all around.

And Tech Providers?

For now, there is no place for a commercial translation technology platform within the contest.

The LocJam organizers do not accept sponsoring from translation technology providers. In fact, usually, in their daily routine, game localizers use a variety of tools, from something very simple, like an Excel spreadsheet, to something more complex, like a collaborative translation platform. Just to give an example: Last year participants were asked to use Twine, an open-source tool.

In addition, the choice of a specific translation tool would imply some kind of endorsement and the contest organizers prefer to refrain from this.

Is there any translation technology provider out there willing to pick up the gauntlet? All bets are on.

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