Voice-over in general is used in many products and projects around the world. These can include movies, TV series, video games, audiobooks, and even phone carriers. Localization uses voice-over to help keep the same message across to other cultures that may not understand outside their own language. The message and themes have to be kept the same but culturally appropriate to the target audience. This can be a demanding process in itself. For the video game industry, if a game studio or developers are interested in bringing voice-over into their localization projects, there are certain things to keep in mind.
Depending on the game being made, the devs need to decide on adding subtitles or voice over to the project. Subtitles or adding in-game text are easier to produce and can be less expensive. However, just text only can give the target audience an underwhelming experience. It can be distracting to have text on certain action scenes on screen or where scenes transition quickly. Gamers will have a hard time keeping up with the story or the action in that way.
Adding voice-over to the game can help dramatically alleviate this problem. It can be expensive to hire a team that uses professional voice actors but will give you the best quality product in the long run. This option will help players connect more to the story and activities in the game. More connections mean more player engagement. If a game is really ambitious, utilizing both voice-over and subtitles is the best value a game can have when it comes to localization.
If hiring a voice actor is the way to go, hiring a professional localization team is a must. Once the team is hired, it’s time to translate the original text from the game to other languages. The LQA team makes sure all the words are appropriate for the target audience. Next is to hire professional voice actors. It’s not enough to have someone that can just speak the language. It has to be someone who has lived in the culture and is experienced in what they do. These voice actors work hard at giving the game characters a voice, whether it’s in a professional sound booth or with a studio home equipment. Lastly, it is the job of the QA team to make sure that the sound quality is sufficient enough during post-production.
Immersing the Player
It is crucial for game devs that are implementing voice acting into their games to do it correctly. For example: a localization team providing “Partial localization” will only translate the original text in-game and not change any voice-over audio from the original language used. While this is a needed change for the target audience, it will not provide a similar experience to what the original devs intended. Teams should be utilizing “Full localization” instead. This provides the target player with a complete translation of text and voice-over audio in their own language. Again, if done correctly, the player will have a great connection to the game. They can fully enjoy the characters in the game as well. Enjoyment means more active players participating in that game. Localizing the game to other cultures allows you to make sure everyone will have a positive experience as well.
When done incorrectly, you can imagine that these can have an opposite effect on the average gamer. The tone, personality, and authenticity have to match up with the characters that devs are trying to accomplish. Otherwise, it damages the player’s experience. If there are mistakes in the script, it can pull the player from those created worlds. They will put down the game and that would potentially halt their game indefinitely. A bad experience can lead to a lousy reception if there are other gamers with similar experiences.
Voice Acting Is Fundamental
I’m sure every one of us has had a favorite video game character that we would like to be. Who doesn’t want to be Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, Nathan Drake from Uncharted, Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn, and Master Chief from Halo? In a way, voice actors are video game characters. It is important for game devs when building their characters to put time and effort into voice-overs, especially for localizing their games.
Finding the right voice actors to localize a game is one of the important steps in localizing a game. If the goal is to reach a target audience in specific cultures, then it should be taken seriously.
When done right, this will provide player immersion and more. Players are able to follow along in the game and understand what the original game devs are trying to show them. They can share similar experiences with other players from different cultures without feeling disconnected. This results in positive feedback and better marketing reception of the game. All of this gains traction for the game but better yet, a fulfilling experience for all gamers. When you take time to localize the game for them, that shows that you care about who they are as a gamer. You are putting them first and utilizing this service will do just that.