GAME LOCALIZATION WORKSHOP

In the fall of 2013, NCTA members attended a unique workshop that led them through the challenges of localizing videogames.

BY PAUL LAMBERT

Presenter David Lakritz guides attendees through the challenges of game localization.

Presenter David Lakritz guides attendees through the challenges of game localization.

On June 22, 2013, the NCTA hosted a workshop on videogame localization in downtown San Francisco, and the event was a great opportunity for translators from the Bay Area to get an insight into this fascinating and growing field. Sponsored by Kilgray Translation Technologies, the event was run by David Lakritz, President and CEO of Language Automation Inc. With his experience and specialization in videogame localization, David was the perfect person to guide translators of all backgrounds through the pitfalls and peculiarities of this industry. → continue reading

LOCALIZATION UNCONFERENCE

In the absence of a predetermined agenda, participants create their own event, and a learning experience that continues beyond the conference.

BY RAFFAELLA BUSCHIAZZO

It’s April 27, we are in one of the spacious conference rooms on the salesforce.com premises in San Mateo; breakfast ranges from bagels with cream cheese to slices of fresh fruit and, of course, coffee and tea. It’s 8:30 am, people are arriving for the third annual Localization (l10n) Unconference in Silicon Valley. → continue reading

TRANSLATION AND POSTCOLONIALISM

Translation and interpreting have a fascinating historical role in the development of empire and the postcolonial world. AN INTERVIEW BY THOMAS J. CORBETT

The work of Robert J. C. Young, Julius Silver Professor of English & Comparative Literature at New York University, concerns marginalized peoples and cultures. Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction devotes its final chapter to translation. Translation is seen not only as a colonial activity but also as a metaphor: transplanting England to New England, for example, is itself a form of translation. The interview began with an oblique question, a question that provoked a typically original and enlightening response from Professor Young. → continue reading

“Glocalization”: The Power of Centralized Website Localization

By Anna Schlegel

How do transnational companies maintain their brand integrity across the multiple localizations of their Internet presence? A case study from VeriSign.

To put the globalization challenge for VeriSign’s website in perspective, it is first necessary to understand that the firm protects, with digital certificates, the secure websites of a majority of companies that have a presence on the Internet. This means more than 750,000 web servers, including 93 percent of the Fortune 500. VeriSign operates the largest independently owned specialized network in the world, routing billions of connections from carrier to carrier—between protocols and across national boundaries. The company monitors 300 million retail transactions and delivers more than 200 million mobile-originated intercarrier messages and more than one million multimedia messages every day.

In 2003, VeriSign had just four international sites—in France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K.—in addition to its corporate website, supported by a single Global Project Manager. Today, the company has more than 18 international sites organized under a centralized global web operation, supported by five language service providers across the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the U.K. The team has grown to include an international executive producer, developers, designers, a localization team and project managers in various geographical regions.

Starting at the bottom

Prior to my joining the company in 2004, VeriSign was using an array of consultants and tools to launch websites with little in-country support or dedicated international developers, as the company was not yet fully staffed internationally. Issues such as international tax, customs, and legal matters were not being addressed consistently (if at all), so appropriate content definition was a complex issue.

Upon my arrival I was told, “Look at what any of the global top five companies do and implement something similar. And, while you’re at it, choose and implement a global content management system (GCMS).” In other words, I had to start from scratch, developing a global website strategy, and virtually every one of its component parts, from budget, affiliates, and team resources to workflow automation and vendor management to localization, website maintenance, and, of course, buy-in from both corporate leadership and international management.

Aligning goals

I determined that the best way to implement such sweeping changes was to ensure that my globalization strategy meshed with the business plans of both senior and line management. I attended many presentations at the director level and above, always making sure to ask the presenter how international needs and requirements figured into their plans; many times, of course, they didn’t. I presented executives with visual evidence of current and future pages in order to educate them on what was currently wrong with the various websites, and how they could be changed to support the VeriSign brand.

It took two and a half years, some burnout (the workload and strategic planning during this period were handled by just two staffers, one vendor, and no translation tools) and a lot of hard work to clean up everything and to gain management support to build a real team with a real budget. An enormous resource was the International Product Commercialization (IPC) Group. By joining this organization, I was able to have a voice in creating VeriSign’s global brand in terms of what the company could market and legally sell around the world.

Another important factor in our eventual success was creating a vision and mission statement for international operations, and continuously sharing it companywide at every opportunity. Our team set up glossaries and style guides, and I recruited as many allies as I could throughout the organization, focusing on the brand managers (who were key) and in-country personnel. Where positions weren’t filled, we used contractors. We built our budget dollar by dollar, until we could finally support the team that was required to carry out a globalization strategy appropriate for our company.

Keys to success

As proof of VeriSign’s success with our global website strategy, we saw the number of words processed doubled from 1.1 million to over 2 million between 2004 and 2006. In 2003, there were no stakeholders for this endeavor; by 2006, there were 14 major stakeholders actively engaged in the localization process. The number of countries supported jumped from seven in 2004 to 16 in 2006. Non-core language support now includes Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Farsi, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian and Turkish. Infrastructure tools include glossaries and style guides in four areas: keywords, website buttons, products/services/descriptions, and a monolingual glossary to support translators. We recently launched an initiative to deploy a global content management system to replace the old, email-based system, with full approval from top executives.

As of the beginning of last year, our corporate site had 5.3 million unique visitors and 30 million page views. The international sites, including 10 in the EMEA region (Europe/Middle East/Africa) and two in Latin America, had 557,000 unique visitors and 2.7 million page views. While the corporate site has experienced a modest 3 percent increase in visitors and a 1 percent increase in page views year-over-year, the increases for the international sites were 74 percent and 41 percent, respectively! France was up by 288 percent, Switzerland by 139 percent and Germany by 122 percent.

37 percent of all traffic on VeriSign’s intranet is now generated from international offices, and 34 percent of the traffic on the company’s sales portal is from outside of the U.S. In terms of lead generation, 308,000 web leads were collected worldwide in 2006.

Along the way, our team took on responsibility for translation as well. Engineering depends on our team to provide guidance, and they share the same language service providers. Our team mandates the translation processes, QA processes, and more. There are now three Web Globalization Managers based in EMEA and some funding for usability studies in that region, as well as in Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

What has been responsible for the success of our team’s work? Perhaps the most important factor has been the engagement of the in-country marketing teams. By creating Service Level Agreements, providing tools and access for each region to request localized content, offering local training, preparing a glossary repository, and conducting frequent meetings with colleagues in the regions, our team members have been able to effectively integrate their goals and operations with those of corporate.

Lessons learned

In carrying out our plan, our team learned a number of important lessons. These included, among others, the notions that globalization must be supported by top-level management; a vision and a mission for international operations are crucial, and must be integrated with the company’s corporate vision; metrics must be communicated through lead generation, chat forums, and the company’s support site; and tools must be tested before buying, based on client requirements—not those of the vendors.

As we launched more websites, our team focused on overcoming still new challenges, which encompassed the need for consistency across all sites, a sensitivity to audience diversity, attention to revenue and strategy, success metrics, regional representation, and doing more with less. Throughout it all, though, we were able to effectively demonstrate how centralized website localization builds the VeriSign brand through the creation of consistent positioning, messaging, and voice and tone—all of which, in turn, helped build brand awareness and recognition. Such efforts also protected the company’s brand assets through trademark protection, by means of proper content translation, and mitigated the company’s worldwide exposure by protecting the company’s key trademark assets.

A clear globalization strategy and execution supports international expansion as well, through the extension of product offerings on a global basis via acquisition and monthly IPC approvals. Simultaneous website launches and support of worldwide sales activity also contribute to this.

Maturing with our markets

As the U.S. market matures, VeriSign’s corporate management looks to international markets as the company’s new frontier for expansion. Building on our team’s success over the past several years, we are now concentrating on issues such as contained English (that is, engaging writers to reduce the amount of content they create), expanding in Asia, allowing more customization at the local level, and, as always, maintaining a high concentration on quality.

MIIS Localization Roundtable

By Farah Arjang

On February 24th, four professional translators from the localization industry gathered at the Monterey Institute of International Studies to talk about their experiences in the localization industry. This session was one of the many in the roundtable series that Romina Marazzato, head of the Master of Arts in Translation and Localization Management program at MIIS, has been organizing to familiarize students and freelance translators with real world of translation and localization management.The presenters at this roundtable were Jean-François Vanreusel of Adobe, who works as an Internationalization Engineer, Moon Ju Kim, a technical translator and Project Manager at Apple, Lutz Niederer, a technical translator at eBay, and Stephan Lins, CEO of Medialocate.

Translation vs. localization
The translators first talked about internalization and localization as the most important aspect of globalization, and then they explained the difference between localization and translation. Translation is just translation, with no consideration for any local audience, whereas localization is modifying the translation so that it makes more sense to the local audience who are the eventual recipients of the translated document.Lutz of eBay takes pride in the localized German eBay website, whose success, he believes, is due to the company’s local translator in Germany—who is in contact with eBay in real time—and to the three to four times a year that Lutz travels to Germany for an update of the culture and language, as well as working in person with the local German translator.

In order to correctly incorporate all provisions when a program or web content is initially created, there needs to be a close relationship between the localization team and the software developers, programmers, or the original designers of the websites. When the format and the content in the source language are created, the programmers need to consider all the limitations that the target language translators might have in conveying the same idea in the same format. None of the four companies represented by the panel is currently using machine translation in localizing their websites or products, but they do use proprietary software programs for their translation memory.

Trial runs
To tackle some of the problems of localization before a program is developed, Adobe, for one, has a process called “pseudo” programming, in which a fake program goes through the process of translation to catch problems or issues such as the differences in the alphabet or use of a particular string that might arise in the real translation.“Sim Release” (simultaneous release) is another challenge for the localization team. Every product at Adobe, eBay, and Apple is released simultaneously around the world, which means extra pressure for the translators and the localization team, who always receive changes at the last moment. Software companies are now planning to sell their shrink-wrapped products online, which means yet more pressure on translators and localization teams.Translators also need to know the ins and outs of the product being localized. Jean-François pointed out that anyone localizing Adobe Photoshop is expected to know digital imaging and basics of photography; similarly, the translator working on Adobe InDesign localization should know the program well and be familiar with the basics of the publishing world.

Moon Ju Kim of Apple, a graduate of the Monterey Institute, talked about her experiences as a technical translator and project manager at Apple. While she agreed with most of the other speakers, she also could not emphasize enough the importance of communication among the translators working on the same localization project. Her advice on work ethic was to be a team player, have a problem-solving attitude, and be up for working in a fast-paced environment, as the localization industry is changing in large ways almost every day.

Lutz, in fact, was amazed at how much the industry has evolved over the past five years since he first started working at eBay, and added his advice to be multi-tasking, detail-oriented, and persistent in order to be a successful localization team member. His last word was “Believe in yourself and make the engineers or content writers develop the programs in a way that works for any other language!”

Localization Training … in Chico!

By Shweta Sathe

The “Northern” in Northern California Translators Association took on a special meaning when the Triple Certification seminar came to Chico in June. Among a few other NCTA members, Shweta Sathe attended these three days of intensive workshops, hands-on practice, videos, and lectures.

I developed an interest in localization after completing a full-fledged French-to-English software localization project as part of my Master’s coursework at Kent State University, and managing linguistic Q&A website translation projects at Peritus Precision Translations. In order to gain a deeper understanding of localization and internationalization, I enrolled in the Triple Certification course offered by California State University/Chico, GALA, and The Localization Institute.

In addition to the standard workshops, the course offered 46 hours of online instruction in the form of PowerPoint presentations, lecture notes, and videos of real-time lectures recorded in previous semesters. There were tests at the end of each instruction segment to make sure we actually internalized the material. The online setup was also helpful in connecting with other course participants ahead of time. I really enjoyed this opportunity since it triggered additional peer-to-peer exchanges. The workshops provided a unique platform for novices like myself to mingle with industry leaders and to exchange ideas and learn from each other.

From my perspective as a Project Manager, I found these sessions especially useful:

Localization Kits

This session addressed the preparation of a localization toolkit, consisting of all resources and instructions such as source files, glossaries, translation memories, and locale-specific style guides.

Project Management

  • Insist on clear communication and encourage people to speak up if there’s a problem. Everyone can have a bad day!

  • Start a project only when you get a final ‘approval’ or PO. This is applicable to translation vendors and freelancers.

  • Be proactive in identifying a problem before it occurs or find a solution and fix the issue RIGHT AWAY.

Localization Budgeting

Prepare detailed budgets for translation, testing (linguistic & functional), DTP and multimedia, and translation memory creation and maintenance.

I would definitely recommend this certification program to anyone who wants to learn more about localization, meet great people in the field, or simply has an interest in languages and international business and wants to find out what it takes to work on the industry. For further information on next year’s coursework and registration procedures, visit http://www.csuchico.edu/localize/.