The days of the Cold War are long past and have been replaced by the hotter topic of global warming. 'Colonisation' and 'Super-power' may actually have become dirty words in these days when global harmony and fair play are the mantras for our planet's survival.
However, in the last few years, there has been a new power entity slowly but steadily rising on the horizon: Enter the APP Store Super Power!
In 2014, Japan and South Korea made huge strides and surpassed the USA by revenue on Google Play. Reports put China at #3 by revenue on the Apple App store. South East Asia is a HUGE emerging market- Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam account for almost all the game revenue in this razer area of the planet.
What is the takeaway from all this?
1. Language is no barrier.
2. The appeal of gaming and mobile gaming is a worldwide phenomenon.
3. Big bucks are involved and this means cutthroat competition and planning in minute detail to drive successful apps and games.
4. Game and app internationalization and localisation drive mobility in apps and games.
5. Not least of all, the quest of humans for easy entertainment is now quite literally in the palms of the hands- holding the mobile phone. Never has the opposable thumb been put to such vigorous use.
The game must go on!
A stationary stone gathers moss
The driving force behind any business is profit. The gaming world is no different. This is a highly competitive world and the gaming market is killer. To survive, evolve, and bring home the bacon, apps and games need not just to be entertaining to the boy-next-door: they need to capture new platforms and markets. And they need to be fast and furious about it or fall by the wayside.
How can they do this?
Internationalistion and localisation
This two-step process is what enables a game to adapt to different regional and linguistic cultures. It must include:
Reviewing the language and regional settings which will determine which localisation is used as well as the date, time, and number formats.
Adapting the user interface
The code must handle multi-language text
Locale (not the language) settings must drive data formatting as multiple countries might use the same language, as also the same individual travelling across different countries.
User interface must be 'mirrored' while using right to left languages; the only exception here would probably be phone numbers.
It is also necessary to test the internationalized app or game to detect auto-layout problems and strings that are not part of the internationalization-localisation process.
Enjoyment MUST be stress-free
Gaming is for enjoyment; the gamer cannot be subjected to a confusing, frustrating experience. There is no place, either, for being culturally and politically improper or downright offensive. Game localisation must also ensure that the translated, internationalized, localized version be faithful to the original.
Many gamers take their gaming very seriously. Game localisation, including those on mobile platforms (iOS localisation or Android), should enable players to immerse themselves completely. The whole enjoyment in gaming is to transport the player to a world of fantasy more appealing than reality, where lives can be replenished in battles with strange creatures in exotic lands unknown! Nothing should interrupt this 'willing suspension of disbelief.'
Localisation must be from the word GO
Game localisation cannot be an afterthought and game developers would benefit from shedding the 'let's see' attitude. Successful developers have understood that video game localisation is an integral part of the development cycle along with coding, designing, or writing. In the very early stages when games were designed and played on limited and limiting platforms, this 'afterthought status' might have been acceptable. But with the proliferation of mobile technology, and the increasing demand for games across linguistic, cultural and geographical borders, video game localisation has come into its own.
Localisation- NOT translation
It must be amply clear by now that game internationalisation and localisation is not just about language. It encompasses cultural symbols, costumes, ethos, environment... everything that goes up to make civilisations, in fact!