Last updated:  
Jul 19, 2019 @ 5:39 PM

Ask a Pro: Game & Mobile App Translation

Lorenzo Turconi Interview

The world of translation connects more with technology all the time. And when you think of in-demand technology, there’s no more natural fit than games!

Lorenzo Turconi is a freelance translator, working from English to Italian, whose area of expertise is video games and entertainment apps. He’s been translating professionally since 2003, but his history with gaming and translation goes much deeper. We asked him to answer a few questions about his work and his love of games.

When or how did you realize that you would like to be a translator?

Lorenzo Turconi Interview

I started many years ago (in the nineties) for fun… literally. I was a PC gamer and my favorite titles were flight simulators and graphic adventures. The first ones had huge manuals only in English, while the adventures are games mainly based on dialogue and stories, so I started translating their texts just to play. Then, I had the opportunity to start working in the gaming industry (on different tasks) and I realized that I could turn my passion for video games into a real profession, because there was a good demand for translators experienced in gaming. So one day I decided to become a games translator and thanks to the help of many people (thank you all!), now I’m a localization professional and I’m very happy about it!

What is the best part of your job? What is the most challenging part?

The best part is the creative side. I like games and I like translating games, because usually you don’t just have to translate text, you have to literally create new terms and names for the different elements of the game. I like studying the contents of the game, looking for references on the web and playing similar titles, and then trying to choose the best terms and text for it. This is my favorite part but it’s also often the most challenging one, because you have to respect very tight deadlines and you work without any visible element of the game, just a series of text fragments in a simple file.

Another great part of this job is that you have a lot of different projects in a year and so you constantly have something new to work on. You never get bored!

Since you started in translation, what changes have you seen in the industry?

One of the main things that I have noticed in my specific field is the increase in the overall quality of translations. Agencies more and more frequently request professional translators in a specific field and this is a positive thing. This is true in particular for the main titles on console, while in the casual gaming and apps industry I often see more attention to budget costs than quality. That’s a pity because casual games and apps are played by millions of casual gamers, so they are for sure great products to attract customers’ attention, and to make a more appealing game you need good and catchy text!

What are a couple of tools/pages/references you find useful for translators?

There are many useful tools but the two most important ones are for sure your dictionary and the Internet itself! When I started translating just for fun, I had just a dictionary and nothing else. Now on the Internet you can find any type of reference, specific glossaries, examples, dictionaries and so on, but you can also talk with other translators, share your problems and questions, and find the meaning of many specific words or slang terms. If I had to name some names, for sure I would say Wikipedia (the first reference page on the web) and the synonym and antonym dictionary websites.

Any funny translation stories you can share?

Many years ago, I was working on a football (soccer) management game and as often happened, the game didn’t have any official license to use real players’ names. To bypass this, the developers usually changed just one or two letters of the real names. Everything was done automatically by the system, so they told us to not check them. But usually I prefer checking everything, so I decided to check at least the names of the main Italian championship team. There were some players whose names, by simply changing one or two letters, were really dirty words! Fortunately I saw them before the game’s release.

Lorenzo Turconi Interview example

Another funny situation was during the translation of the texts for a Happy Valentine’s Day mobile app. It included a lot of English love messages that the users could send to their own sweetheart. Most of them were rhymed verses and funny puns, without any possible translation. And so I spent two days and nights writing new love messages for Valentine’s Day from scratch!

Thanks Lorenzo! You can find Lorenzo online at lorenzoturconi.com.

More questions about game translation? Ask in the comments!


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