A Deep Dive into the Localization of Simulation Games

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Simulation games provide an immersive gaming experience that people of all ages can enjoy. The trick to making them a global success is to ensure that immersion isn’t disrupted by video game localization mishaps.  

Let’s explore the unique challenges of adapting intricate systems, cultural references, and the details of these games to help the overall experience feel authentic and accessible. 

About Simulation Games  

Simulation games aim to closely mimic a variety of real-life situations, with some veering into fantasy or futuristic scenarios. They serve different purposes like training, analysis, prediction, or just plain entertainment. These games let you take the reins of machines, characters, or environments, offering a risk-free environment to learn the ropes, especially with the added dimension of virtual reality (VR).  

Screen capture of Train Sim World
Screen capture of Train Sim World

Simulation Video Game Localization Challenges 

When localizing any video game, you’re bound to face challenges, but the immersive nature of simulation games creates even more hurdles to overcome. Such as: 

Strategic terminology management 

One of the primary hurdles involves the highly technical terminology prevalent in simulation games. The localized content often revolves around instructions, tutorials, help messages, items, detailed descriptions, commands, and menus.  
 

Adapting economics and trade  

Simulation games frequently incorporate complex economic systems and trade mechanics, crucial to gameplay. Localizing these elements requires adjusting currencies, resource values, and market trends to mirror regional realities without compromising the fundamental balance of the game.  

Humor and cultural cues in dialogue  

Part of the reason that simulation games can be so charming is they tend to feature characters with unique personalities and dialogues tied to specific events or tasks. Translating puns and jokes from the original content becomes a challenge, as they may need a culturally relevant equivalent to maintain the character’s personality while resonating with local humor sensibilities.  

Examples by Simulation Subgenres 

Now, let’s look at more specific localization challenges related to different simulation subgenres.  

Construction and management simulation 

Games such as SimCity or Cities: Skylines present challenges in adapting architecture and urban planning elements during localization. This includes adjusting building names, zoning classifications, and architectural styles to strike a balance between global recognition and regional specificities. The goal is to create cityscapes that feel both believable and relatable to players in different parts of the world.  

Screen capture of City: Skylines 2

Dating simulation 

Localization in dating simulation games, exemplified by titles like Half Past Life, demands linguistic precision. Translators must carefully handle the translation of player actions and dialogue options that propel the story and dates forward. Achieving this balance involves considering cultural nuances and age restrictions, ensuring both playability and narrative cohesion in dating games. 

Farming simulation 

Farming simulators like Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon showcase a variety of crops and culinary specialties. In the localization process, there’s a need to balance the exotic appeal of these elements with familiar references to make in-game food systems understandable and relatable. For instance, substituting a rare tropical fruit in the original with a local seasonal vegetable in a specific region maintains the essence of resource management while connecting with players’ regional experiences.   

The Takeaway 

When dealing with simulation games that include highly specialized terminology, it is advisable to partner with proficient linguists and project managers possessing expertise in the specific field or exceptional research skills. A robust terminology management system is crucial in these games, as it ensures the precision necessary for offering players a deeply immersive experience. The accuracy and consistency of terms not only enhance understanding but also significantly contribute to the overall enjoyment and engagement of the game, delivering a seamless experience that authentically mirrors reality. 

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