This is a guest post by Anthony Teixeira
Many gamers with an interest in languages dream to work in the game industry as professional translators. While there are plenty of ways to reach potential clients (I wrote a whole guide about it), it is crucial to market yourself appropriately to close deals.
Both agencies and developers (direct clients) will often ask about your familiarity with video games. It makes sense, as the industry has its own culture, jargon, and terminology.
When you introduce yourself, mention you are a gamer. Write about the systems you own, the time you spend on games per week/month, etc. No need to write a whole essay about it, but make it clear you have enough recent experience to understand perfectly the materials you are working on.
While it is an asset to play games, our industry is vast. For example, take a driving simulator and a visual novel. One will contain technical aspects (part descriptions), while the other is closer to literature. Although those games run on the same media, project managers may want to collaborate with two different translators here.
Even if you can translate any type of game, it is always a good idea to mention your favorite genres, or titles you like above all. It will boost your chances of standing out and make your prospects realize you’re the ideal candidate. Game localization attracts a lot of competition, so a very specific specialization can give you extra visibility.
You’re a professional translator who happens to play games, not a mere “fan” who more or less understands two languages.
Of course, it is fine to show enthusiasm for games. But clients will seek someone who is not only passionate but also proves capable of providing professional services.
Find the right balance, as passion only takes you so far. Highlight your professional experience. That’s also a good way to send a message to outsourcers who believe gamers will to translate any game for free or at a miserable rate.
A frustrating reality of the gaming industry is that translators rarely get credited for their hard work. For whatever reason, developers are very, very secretive about their partners. Here are a few ways you can get recognition for your efforts and something to show your prospects:
Independent developers sometimes won’t have the budget to localize their games. Offer them to translate part of their titles, a store description, etc. for free. In exchange, you get credited and have concrete projects to show your potential clients. There are several ways to find such opportunities: check requests on Facebook groups such as Indie Game Localization, or browse game developer groups on Facebook and LinkedIn where people showcase their games. Identify promising projects and contact their developers to offer your help.
The LocJAM, currently on a hiatus, is an entry point in an industry where everybody expects you to have experience. It is free and open, and you can share your entries as samples for new clients. While there are no new immediate plans for new editions of the contest, you can still download and translate previous packages. You may also attend offline events that carry this vision. In Japan, for example, we’ve had a few game translation jams, where new and experienced translators would meet and translate a game together for a day. Look for such events and workshops near you, or even organize one yourself! They will help you gain experience and offer an excellent chance to meet like-minded colleagues and establish meaningful connections.
Anthony Teixeira is a freelance French translator specialized in video game and software localization. Working in the industry since 2009, he regularly writes about translation-related topics, from technical localization tips to career advice for aspiring translators.