A core focus of our work at Impetus over the past year has been Japanese-to-multiple language (“JtoX”) game translation. We have recently come to realize that there is a strong and growing need (beyond what we’d previously expected) within the Japanese game industry for direct translation from Japanese into each language, and that this need has yet to be comfortably met.
Traditionally, those Japanese game publishers and developers who could afford doing so have had internal localization teams including full-time game translators for each major language. However, in more recent years, more and more games, especially mobile and indie games, are being translated into multiple (and more) languages. This more or less requires the publishers/developers to outsource their translations to (game) translation companies, as they wouldn’t usually have the internal resources to handle multiple target languages.
And when they do so, for reasons of both 1) time and 2) quality, we feel that Japanese publishers and/or developers are more and more likely to prefer direct JtoX translation from Japanese into the target languages:
1) Time: Waiting for an initial Japanese-to-English translation, to be followed by an English-to-multiple language (“EtoX”) phase, will very likely prolong or delay the overall localization schedule. This “JtoEtoX” approach, however, seems to have been and still be the industry standard, possibly due to the relative ease and affordability of securing JtoE and EtoX translator talent, separately. (These language pairs have a richer roster compared to JtoX language pairs.)
2) Quality: Translating by proxy through a third language (English in case of JtoEtoX) will result in part of the original meaning and flavor being lost in translation, regardless of how talented, thorough and helpful the initial JtoE translators are. Ideally, a Japanese game would be translated JtoX by game translators who are native speakers of each target language, who understand the source Japanese as well as the cultural and subcultural tropes within and behind it, and are able to bring the experience over to their native languages. If a JtoE translation already exists, and if those translators are also fluent in English, the existing translation could serve as a helpful reference that asks and answers many of the questions each JtoX translator will encounter.
In light of the above trends and needs, Impetus is actively looking to compare notes with Japanese-to-<target language> game translators and prospects, with special emphasis on Japanese/English/<target language> trilinguals, for any target language, and regardless of professional experience. Please feel free to poke us by e-mail at info-at-impetus.jp !