Emanuele – Executive Localization Director

Meet Emanuele “Shin” Scichilone!

1) What is your name and where do you work?
My name is Emanuele Scichilone and I work at Synthesis Global Solutions headquarter, in Lugano, Switzerland, where I actually live.

2) How and when did you enter the game localization industry?
I started in 1990 as videogame journalist for some of the best selling Italian videogame magazines: The Games Machine, Zzap!, Console Mania, PC Action, CD Magazine. In early 1995 I worked along with Max (Synthesis founder) and some colleagues to our first videogame translation (Xcom: Terror From the Deep, Microprose) before Synthesis actually born. In 1996 I tried a small adventure as game designer with an Italian software house named LightShock Software, developing Pray for Death then published in 1996 by Virgin Entertainment, but later in the year I joined Max at Synthesis.

3) What is your primary job at Synthesis?
I am the Executive Localization Director, and a partner of the Synthesis group. I manage a group of other project managers, and I have a client portfolio to follow.

4) What do you have to take care of today?
Today I kicked off a new project from Japanese to English, Italian and Spanish, I worked on some accounting stuff, some web and marketing requests (it’s daily routine), one videogame quote in German for a client, a conference call with another client to check the feedback of the projects we worked on previous quarter, and an audio editing request for a trailer of a third client.

5) What is your “Synthesis nickname” and what is the story behind?
My nickname is Shin. The story behind this goes back in 1990 when I started writing videogame articles for Zzap!, the most known Commodore 64 specialized magazine at the time. In each article the final opinion appeared in a box with a “caricature” of myself showing if I liked the game or not. Giancarlo Calzetta, Zzap! editor in chief, the very first day told me: “you must chose a nickname for the caricatures”. There was not much room for the name and usually journalists were using their initials. I didn’t like the idea to use E.S. and I started thinking to a nick. Looking at my surname, I suddenly isolated some of the letters (1st, 4th, 5th and 9th)… “Shin”. It’s the pronounce of the Japanese ideogram 新, and actually means “new”… it also reminded to a few well known videogames and Japanese cartoon characters… I liked the idea, I proposed it to my editor and he approved, starting calling me Shin immediately, as well of all other colleagues. I couldn’t image that this would have become my name since then…

6) What is the funniest localization flaw you stumbled upon at your time at Synthesis?
The funniest mistranslation I stumbled upon was “le ostriche che saltano e corrono come gli uomini” (ostriche sounds like ostrich, but it is oyster, so you can imagine an oyster running and jumping like humans).

7) What was your most demanding project and what made it so special?
I dealt with some really demanding projects in all these years: biggest ones in terms of translation (over 1+ million words per language) were Neverwinter Nights, Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006), TES Skyrim (2011) and Fallout 4 (2015), which was also the biggest one in terms of audio so far. While the most demanding, I still believe, the first Mass Effect (2007), it was the biggest audio title done in Italian language at that time and changed completely my work methodology.

8) What is your favourite game and why?
Definitely Final Fantasy VII, mainly for the incredible plot and the narration.

9) What do you love about videogames localization?
This work covers many areas (translation, audio, testing) both from a creative and technical point of views, but also has management aspects, social implications… the thing I love more, anyway, is the fact that I am here to solve client issues and needs… I feel more or less like being Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction… 😉

10) What do you hate about videogames localization?
The fact that our languages can’t have the same level of attention, dedication and budget of the source language by developers and publishers. We have to work during the development phase and we can’t work like would be recording and adapting a movie. Also we don’t cover the whole localization phase, since often we are not in charge of audio final levels and effects missing, or we are not in charge of LQA.

11) Final question: what do you do when you’re not sitting in front of your computer?
I spend all the time I have with my wife and my son (who needs all my attention and dedication).