5 more professions needed in game dev
Career prospects for people with and without higher education
Want to touch the wonderful world of game development, but don’t know how to program, or art, or sound? We talk about five professions related to gamedev with a strong but not obvious connection. From this material you will learn what qualities, skills and knowledge are needed to work in one or another role in the company localizing the game.
Written in Alconost
To bring the game to foreign markets, it must be localized. And to do this qualitatively, it is not enough just to translate the texts of dialogs and interface elements. The translation needs to be adapted taking into account the specifics of the target language and the cultural characteristics of the country for which localization is being prepared. If the localization is done correctly, foreign users will perceive the game as a native and will receive from the game exactly those emotions that the developer was counting on.
We at Alconost localize games in 70+ languages and want to talk in detail about the main participants game localization process. This is:
- account manager who examines the existing localization needs of the client and offers an individual solution;
- localization manager, managing specific translation projects;
- translator, which can have three roles: the translator itself, the editor and the localization tester.
This is a customer service manager. The account manager at Alconost is partly a sales manager. In addition to active work online, he also attends gamedev conferences and other events and communicates with developers personally. Therefore, often the account manager is the first representative of the company with whom the client meets.
What does an account manager do
Account manager develops relationships with existing customers and establishes contacts with potential. His mission is to build long-term, positive and mutually beneficial relationships.
Long term is the key word. Sometimes the account manager and developer get to know each other at the conference and keep in touch for months or even years before their relationship goes to the client/contractor plane.
Game developers are not required to be aware of all the intricacies of the localization process. Therefore, one of the tasks of the account manager is to delve into the client’s task and offer its solution. If the developer is not yet ready to order localization from the company, communication with him is not interrupted. Perhaps after some time the situation on his side will change - and he already has reliable contact on all localization issues.
Who should be the account manager
Ideally, this is a specialist with a higher economic (FEA) or management education, who understands the IT market in general and the gaming market in particular.
In terms of personal characteristics - this is a person with empathy. Without it, building relationships can turn into obsessive attempts to sell the services of a company. And this is a flimsy foundation for many years of constructive cooperation.
The account manager should have an understanding that the client should not be forced to make a decision. Seeking a solution together is possible and necessary, suggesting options and looking for compromises is a must. But the client must make the decision himself, without pressure.
What should an account manager be able to do
In general, the account manager consists of developed soft skills: sociability, high self-organization, the ability to listen, solve problems and take responsibility.
The account manager keeps in touch with clients both live, by voice, and by correspondence. Therefore, he needs to be able to speak and write correctly, clearly and beautifully.
Confident knowledge of English and other foreign languages will help to communicate with foreign customers, which means it will be a plus.
Experience in the field of translation is also a plus, although for starters it’s enough to understand the business processes in gamedev companies, the responsibilities of the specialists working in them, and in general terms imagine the development cycle.
Of the specific skills, one can note working in CRM, and also working with numbers and document management (NDA, contracts, etc.).
If the account manager builds relationships with the client, then the localization manager (for brevity - the local manager) develops them. Although in some projects the local manager also acts as an account manager, the main difference between these roles is that most of the “local manager – client” communication takes place in working on specific tasks.
What the local manager does
The local manager organizes the localization of a specific project: clarifies the requirements, forms a team of performers (translators, editors, localization testers) for each language pair, controls the timing and quality of work, keeps in touch with the client on all issues. The local manager also calculates the project budget and prepares closing documents if necessary.
The goal of the work of the local manager is to ensure the high quality of localization in accordance with the technical requirements, withstanding deadlines.
Who should be the local manager
Ideally, this is a specialist with a higher linguistic education who has experience working with texts on a multilingual project.
The local manager should have an idea of how the localization process is built and how to manage it. We at Alconost believe that the prospects for this profession are good for the marketer who is responsible for multilingual content, the content manager who works with a translation agency or directly with translators, and the linguist who likes to work with texts. With such an introduction, you can get used to the profession in 3-6 months.
The more languages a local manager knows, the better. The gaming experience and interest in games in general will not hinder: it will be easier to delve into the source materials from the client and work with translators' comments, and the process of familiarizing yourself with the game will be not only a duty, but also a pleasant experience.
But higher education at the time of entering the profession may be incomplete. So, senior students of language universities can also try themselves in local management. They may not immediately manage to work full day, but the load of the local manager can be adjusted, which means that work and study can be combined.When selecting local managers in Alconost, they carefully read the cover letter and resume: these texts are already a preliminary test. After all, the local manager will have to communicate a lot with clients and performers in correspondence. If logic is lame in the cover letter, the resume is written illiterate, and it is psychologically uncomfortable to correspond with the candidate, the test is not passed. It would seem that these are obvious things, but in our experience - at this stage half of the candidates for the position are eliminated. So literacy and the ability to express thoughts clearly are the beginning of the beginning.
What should a local manager be able to do
Both the client and the team working on the project should be comfortable communicating with the local manager. More than 80% of the local manager’s working time is spent on communication, and the local manager will send 8 out of 10 messages to the performers. Sociability, friendliness, ability to prevent conflicts and smooth out what failed to prevent are important.
Another 20% of the working time for the local manager is planning, setting up projects in translation platforms (see below), working with translators' comments and questions. Here you need attentiveness, the ability to work with information, the ability to clearly formulate tasks, realistically assess deadlines, and strictly control quality.
The local manager, as a rule, works with a pool of clients and projects that require attention with different frequencies and in different volumes. For example, today you need to calculate the cost of localizing the site in 10 languages for a new client, tomorrow - to do localization testing of the application for a regular client, and the day after tomorrow - to translate a big update to the game that we worked on last year.And sometimes tasks of this type come one after another during the day! Therefore, you need to be able to switch between projects and prioritize.
Given the density of events in the working day of the local manager, self-organization is one of the key skills.
Some local managers at Alconost have a “tomato-based” organization of working hours. So: you select a task, set a timer for 25 minutes, after a time you take a 5-minute break, and after 2 hours of work in this mode, you distract from business for 15-30 minutes. In our experience, immersion in one project with your head will not work effectively in multitasking conditions.To be a productive local manager and a happy person, you need flexibility in organizing the schedule and such a combination of internal settings with which you can achieve a balance between workers and personal affairs.
On a localization project, a translator can perform one of three roles: translator, editor, localization tester. At Alconost, only native speakers of the target language do all this. That is, if you are a translator in Alconost, you will translate from a language that is foreign to you (for example, Spanish), into a language that is native to you (for example Russian). And if Russian is your only native language, then in Alconost you can only translate into it, but not from it. Speakers of two languages - bilinguals - can translate into both native languages.
This approach allows you to get a natural, truly native translation. After all, localization is not just a translation of words and expressions: it is a stylistic and cultural adaptation of the content to the particular country. No one knows these features better than the native. Therefore, the translator must be a native speaker not only of the language, but also of the cultural code of the region for which the product is localized.
Who should be a translator
Ideally, this is a person with higher education and experience in translations, well versed in any narrow subject.
Higher education can be anything. For example, you can first get an education in any field, from medicine to mechanical engineering, and then an additional linguistic one, where they teach technologies and translation tools and give a lot of practice. Or vice versa: first get a translation education, and then choose a specific subject area, delve into it and master its terminological apparatus.
If a translator is fluent in a particular subject, it can mean even more than a university diploma. Indeed, among the variety of games there are niche products, from an economic simulator to games in a historical setting.
Even if you haven’t graduated from a university, but, for example, are obsessed with robotics or are well versed in wine or gardening and have thematic vocabulary in both your native and foreign languages, your knowledge can be very useful in localization.A successful career those who started with volunteer translations of their favorite games can do localization of games. If the game is localized by the forces of the fan community (crowdsourcing) and you contribute, this is a good start. If you sincerely like to translate games, you can further develop in this direction and become, for example, a freelance translator. Moreover: if over time you gain experience and your portfolio will consist of game projects, you can become a serious competitor to translators who have a higher education, but do not have such experience in translating games as you do.
Sometimes thematic specialization is a decisive factor in choosing a translator. For example, Alconost has a religious translator, an electrician translator, and a translator - a mathematics teacher at the university. They are cool and valuable specialists, because they not only know the language, they also understand very narrow topics.
In a resume, it makes sense to list areas that you most often work with and that you know best.This may seem obvious, but in Alconost, when searching for translators, they often find it difficult to conclude from their resume that they specialize. Too many topics are indicated and it is unclear which of them translator localized dozens of projects, and which - a couple of times translated a couple of lines.
Unlike the account manager and localization manager, who basically need universal, flexible skills, the translator also needs specialized skills.
4 specialized skills needed by a translator
- Be able to translate . Obviously, this is the main and main thing. To verify this, Alconost first looks at the resume, making sure that the translator is a native speaker of the target language. If so, the translator is given a test task - to translate the text on the game or IT-theme. The result is carefully checked. Everything is taken into account: the accuracy of the translation, the absence of semantic errors, the observance of uniform terminology, style, text design and, of course, following the rules of spelling and punctuation of the target language. Based on the results of the audit, each candidate is assigned a TQI (translation quality index). It is measured in points: maximum 100. Proposals for cooperation can be received by candidates with a TQI of at least 98.
- Localize . Localization is more than translation, especially in games. The texts need to be adapted taking into account the specifics of the target language, and jokes, taking into account the cultural characteristics of the target region. Names of characters and names of objects need to be translated with the preservation of puns, and dialogs with preservation of subtexts, references and tonality of the original. In addition, you need to consider the length of the lines, select the most concise lettering options for buttons, be able to work with variables, tags and markup - and this is not a complete list. In Alconost, as a rule, they work with translators who already know this.
Be able to work with CAT tools . These are programs that automate the translation process. It is the process that is being automated, not the translation itself. For example, such programs suggest whether such a fragment of text has already been translated, and if so, how. Thanks to this, translation uniformity is maintained and the pace of the translator’s work is accelerated, and the quality of the result does not deteriorate.
Among such programs are Trados, memoQ, Passolo, OmegaT, Poedit. It is enough to be able to work in several of them. If you haven’t worked with any yet, we recommend that you learn Trados and memoQ.
Be able to work in cloud platforms for localization . In cloud platforms, it is convenient to manage localization projects and team work on them. After all, one project can be translated into dozens of languages at the same time, and translators can have the same questions on the same lines - for example, if there is not enough context. Crowdin, SmartCAT, Memsource, Transifex, OneSky, localise.co are the most popular cloud platforms for localization.
The cloud platform is the main environment in which the Alconost translator operates. To feel like a fish in water in this environment, you need to be able to swim. If you're not familiar with cloud platforms yet, start with Crowdin.
6 universal skills needed by a translator
This is a combination of skills that a translator needs to work successfully in localization.
- To understand the instructions and be able to follow what is indicated in them. Brief, customer requirements, manager's explanations - people have already taken the time and attention to bring you up to date. Appreciate it: read carefully, pass the read through yourself.
- Get into the details . In the localization of games - a lot of work with the context, and each game, despite the experience, immerses in a new one. There are thousands of lines in localization projects, some of which look similar, but are used in different contexts. For example - the same phrase in the plot dialogue and in a combat situation. You should always pay attention to this: look at screenshots, read explanations.
- Be independent . One must be able to distinguish between questions that cannot be dispensed with with the help of a client or manager, from questions that can be answered independently.It is impossible at the first incomprehensible situation to “fold the paws” and kick the line to the manager or client. After all, the client turns to the localization company, including because it saves him time. And optional questions take away this time.
- Realistically evaluate deadlines for completing tasks and comply with them. Without this skill, a translator will not be able to work in one company for a long time. There is competition among localizers, and all other things being equal, they will take on the project the one who does not fail in time.
- Be non-conflict , be able to take the side of another person. If the client does not like the proposed translation option, you need to understand the essence of the remark, realizing that the complaint is not to you personally, but to a line that for some reason does not fit. The reasons need to be understood, and by editing it is to solve the client’s problem.
Be flexible . If you do not like a fixed work schedule and monotony in general - we have great news for you. Most of all they value translators who are ready to tailor their routine to the tasks of the client. For example, if you are ready to work in the time zone of a manager or client that is different from your own, this is a plus. Or if you usually work in Crowdin, and it’s more convenient for the client to complete his project in memoQ, it will be great if you can switch between different tools.
If the translator is ready to find the time, options, opportunities - everyone will benefit from this. The client will receive what he wanted, and will surely turn to the company with new tasks. The local manager will often turn to just this to the translator, and not only on projects for this client. And the translator will receive more orders.
As we have already mentioned, a translator can have two more roles in a project: an editor and a localization tester.
The duties of the editor include checking the translation for terminological and stylistic uniformity, compliance with the glossary and other requirements specified in the terms of reference.
The editor must speak the same foreign language from which the text was translated. Thanks to this, the editor can, with an eye on the original, shorten the line or reformulate the replica if necessary.
The number of translators involved in the project is multiplied by two when ordering proofreading. That is, when localizing from Russian to Italian, one native translator will translate Italian, and the second native translator will check the translation of a colleague.
The editor is especially needed in the project if the main text was translated by several different translators (usually this is done if the volume is large and localization is urgently needed). If the text had the same elements that were not included in the glossary, each translator could translate them in his own way. The editor identifies such places and makes corrections to make the localization consistent.
Typically, client-side QA testers perform functional testing. It partially overlaps with the linguistic one, but with it only obvious things are checked, such as formatting and encodings. Other experts, LQA or LQT testers, are responsible for complete localization testing.
What a localization tester should be able to do
The LQT tester should be able to read test cases, log errors in the form requested by the client, record video from the screen and use emulators to check localization on the device model specified by the client.
It would seem that the task is not difficult and any native speaker can perform it. In Alconost, this work is usually done by the translators who worked on the project, because testing gives them the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the context of the game. If there were no questions about the context of a replica during the translation, it may appear directly in the game that the context mattered, but was hidden.At the LQT stage, you can just edit any line with text to fit more organically into the game situation or into the interface.
But it also happens that on one project the translator only deals with localization, on the other - only the deduction of localized strings, and on the third - localization testing.
This, of course, is not a complete list of opportunities for self-realization in a company that localizes games. There is also a vendor manager and a specialist in the localization of audio and video content, but these are even more niche professions. Perhaps the statement about the value of translators with a narrow specialization is extrapolated to specialists in localization in general. The industry is surprisingly flexible, and the sought-after professionals are born at the junction of competencies.
In the Newzoo latest research , it is predicted that in 2020 The profitability of the global market for mobile, computer and console games will be USD 159.3 billion, which is 9.3% higher than in 2019. But what market share does localization take? The Slator study noted that in 2018 it was about 1%. If you trust the optimistic forecast and assume that the localization market share remains at least the same, the global localization market in 2020 can reach almost USD 1.6 billion.
In our opinion, this is great news. Together with the game market, the demand for localization will also grow. Accordingly, new companies will appear, and in existing ones - new jobs. Perhaps one of them is just for you.
Which of the following professions do you like more? How could you, with your unique set of knowledge and skills, realize yourself in the gaming industry? Share in the comments.
About the Author
Alconost does localization of games , applications and sites in 70+ languages. Native translators, linguistic testing, cloud platform with API, continuous localization, project managers 24/7, any format of string resources. We also make videos about games and applications, products and companies: selling, image, advertising, training, teasers, expellers, trailers for Google Play and the App Store.
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