One of the most common arguments that show up whenever a complaint is issued over an issue within the gaming industry is that gamers are entitled. The latest controversy to earn this rebuke is over the recently released Fire Emblem Fates, it’s localization and subsequent translation into english.
Now, let’s be honest here, translation issues have been a common complaint amongst gamers since the infamous “All your base are belong to us” from the game Zero Wing. As the Internet became more popular and gamers became more connected, that quote became a wide spread meme, which served as both a piece of gaming humour and a message to gaming companies that there should never be a time we go back to these kinds of terrible translations.
Unfortunately, it seems that the localization team for Fire Emblem Fates has embraced the poorly translated phrases of gaming’s past. There were already a great deal of complaints building up against the soon to be released game, primarily over removed content that was part of the original Japanese version.The bungled translations in the U.S. version are particularly noteworthy and definitely not emblematic of the story you might expect from the light hearted, but typically very serious, story lines found within the Fire Emblem franchise.
In today’s video gaming market the need for properly translated video games into the English language from their original Japanese is strong. Something we must also be aware of, during the translation process, is lip syncing where voice acting is involved. It is important to fit as much of the proper English translation as possible into the amount of time a voice actor has to move their lips in sync with the character on the screen. This sometimes leads to the character having a shortened translation from Japanese in a similar conversational context.
However, in the case of Fire Emblem Fates, a good portion of the translation errors, improper English and even removal of conversations between two characters, seems to come into play during text only scenes. This seems most common in the games’ romance side quests, where characters are able to interact with each other, build up their relationship with one another and eventually have offspring which can make far more powerful and unique soldiers to add to your party. There are other added benefits for building two character’s relationship together, but my personal favorite benefit is the creation of new soldiers.
Gamers are purchasing Fire Emblem Fates for a hefty amount of money and expect a proper translation in the final product.Gamers should be able to expect the dialogue and exchanges between characters to be properly and fully translated so they are able to get the full context of the story that the developer intended. It is a disservice to provide poor translations to English speaking players on the grounds of them not being able to tell or know the difference anyway. Translation teams get paid good money to do a proper job converting Japanese text to English. No unpaid amateurs should be able to point out where in the translation you completely ignored what was actually said and inserted something completely random or nonsensical as opposed to the actual original dialogue. That would just reflect badly on the translation team.
Now I do understand the job of a localization team, to help the game make sense for the audience it is being localized for. Cultural references that might not be understood by English speaking audiences can be slightly altered in the best interests of U.S. players, but I can’t help but be slightly curious as to what cultural reference I would have misunderstood if “I’m really happy that we’ll be together forever. I’m really happy…!” needed to be changed to “…Rrrghg rawrgghh rrrh! That’s Dragon for I love you!”.
Ultimately the likelihood of a majority of English Speaking audiences being able to completely grasp just how badly a game was localized is quite poor. Despite how interconnected the world is these days when it comes to the internet, the awkwardness of a lot of the dialogue is probably going to be accepted as just that, awkward dialogue. Incorrect grammar or entirely missing conversations could just as easily be seen as character traits and the aforementioned “That’s dragon for I love you!” probably wouldn’t have even been given a second thought.
However, game developers and localization teams should not be relying on their customers being ignorant as a means of selling a poorly translated game. Gamers are paying good money for their English translated video games, expecting proper translations is not entitlement. It’s literally what the localization and translation teams are paid to do.
It is always going to be incorrect and downright idiotic to call gamers entitled children for wanting the bare minimum from a localized product. Some, like Jeff Gerstmann, would rather have every gamer learn Japanese (classified as a Super Hard language by the U.S. State Department) than lodge reasonable complaints about poorly translated titles. And some call us entitled…
–Images from Imgur Website and Nintendo–