Games Internationalization Best Practices

Games Internationalization Best Practices

First of all, for not getting confused between Internationalization and Localization, Translation or Globalization. Internationalization is the process of technically preparing a game to be adapted for other languages.

A game is an Audio and Visual Product. Here, the localization enabled by the Internationalization will need to manage a lot of more complex scenarios in comparison to the localization of other products like websites or mobile apps:

– Dialogs and conversational content(Dubbing/subtitling).

– Narrative content: the story of the game and its characters.

– Functional content like game options.

– Technical content like installation steps and hardware requirements.

That’s why Internationalization takes an important place in the Gaming Industry. Some pre-requisite researches and decisions are a must to be taken, before developing a game, such as the deployment devices (iOS, Android, etc…) and the target markets. Based on that, the game engineers can analyze and anticipate Internationalization issues, such as each device’s specifications, screen sizes, translated text expansion, right to left content for bidirectional languages like Arabic and Hebrew, consistent look and feel across all devices, and in all languages.

A very important factor to keep in mind during the internationalization process is the usability factor. The Development strategy of a game must ensure the standardization of the content structure, how the content is stored, organized, how easy it can be retrieved, manipulated, translated, or reviewed for non-technical like translators and reviewers.

How to ensure a game is correctly Internationalized?

As the target languages were defined since the early beginning of the development phase. A pseudo-localization is the best approach to evaluate the internationalization status of a game. Pseudo-localization is the process of creating testing content and related UI matters for a predefined target language and then test the game’s functionality using this language to ensure the consistency of the game behavior and functions.

Also, as a best practice, it is a must to avoid any embedded strings and content within the code. It is a must to keep code and text separated. Embedded strings make it impossible to localize a game after releasing it. Because the game needs to be restructured by replacing the embedded strings with placeholders and store these strings in a source file like XML.

Agile Development Methodologies

Following Agile development methodologies along with SCRUM, ideally applying Internationalization pseudo-localization based on a SCRUM Sprint level is better than delay the testing till the end of the development. On a Sprint level, we can minimize the risks because the issues found can be solved at the lowest cost, time, and effort. On the contrary, at the end of the development, the cost can be very high because Internationalization issues will always require a percentage of code change and may need deep and complex re-coding for certain parts of the game.

Internationalization Cost

Internationalization Cost is a concern, especially for the small-mid size companies. Therefore, to maintain the cost within the allocated budget, the i18n must be managed in a wise way. It may be seen that Internationalization is expensive but, a company that wants to expand its presence globally has no choice. Sacrificing i18n will keep the business within the tied boundary of the one language speaking countries. Therefore, allocate a budget for i18n, this will allow the company to gain a lot more opportunities from the global Market.

To conclude, the key here exists in the Agile Development Methodologies capability to integrate the Internationalization to the development life cycle and in a Sprint fashion to reduce the cost of technical changes.

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