How to get into videogame translation

September 8th, 2016
How to get into videogame translation

In the second of our six part ‘How to…’ series, we explore one of the fundamental disciplines in the localization process – Translation.

Translation can make or break a videogame. It is one of the most important elements of localization and is the basis of the entire gaming experience where the in-game translation for the storyline, character narrative and instructions has to be tailored specifically to each market and where regional and cultural references are essential.

Synthesis has offices around the world, using local translators to deliver tailored videogame translations which radically improve gameplay for players in every market.

The objective for any videogame is to communicate at a local level and keep the player focused and immersed, not have them jarred out of the game by bad translation! Speaking in their native tongue makes for better games and happier players.

So, to be a Videogames Translator you need:

– to be a native speaker and excellent knowledge of the target language
– an excellent knowledge of English
– a very strong interest/familiarity in videogames and in the entertainment industry (music, movies, TV series, comic books and so on)
– accuracy and attention to detail
– the ability to work under pressure for tight deadlines
– a good knowledge of Microsoft Office applications and CAT tools
– initiative, self-motivation and problem solving abilities
– the ability to work as part of a team

Your work would involve:

– familiarizing with the product and creating a game terms glossary
– translating videogames texts keeping in mind the appropriate language for the title, the text destination (in-game or script/audio recording) and keeping consistency
– delivering an excellent translation free of grammar problems, typos, mistranslations, literal translations, wrong platform terms etc
– communicating with the team and checking the developers’ answers to questions
– ensuring a timely delivery

Working hours and conditions

At Synthesis we work on the leading AAA videogame titles around the world which means we have to be flexible to the needs of publishers and developers. Our translators are freelance and, depending on the project, we do require them to work nights and at weekends, especially during the summertime when most of the work concentrates. But don’t worry, there are also quieter times!

Entry requirements

There are specific training / academic studies in Translation in every country. CAT tools programs, subtitling courses, any formal training related to audio visual translation would help.

But most importantly you need to be connected to the “live” English language, spoken in videogames, movies, TV series, comic books, Internet and with your peers.

However, to really succeed in videogame translation, you need to be a hard-core video gamer. The reason is simple; as we don’t have the game available during translation, you have to fill in the contextual gaps by using your videogame knowledge, as some translations can be very, very challenging without any graphical reference.

Videogame Translation is a challenging and rewarding experience where you are responsible for not only translating the game, but ensuring it is understood, and enjoyed, in each specific market.

So, if you love languages and videogames in equal measure, translation maybe the career for you and everyone at Synthesis would like to wish you the very best of luck!

For more information on potential positions at Synthesis, feel free to visit our website at the Careers section or please contact