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Being Local in a Global Industry: Game Localization from an Indie Game Development Perspective
University of Skövde, School of Informatics. University of Skövde, Informatics Research Environment. (GAME Research Group)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8291-1793
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

During recent years a rise of small, independent game developers have become a large part of the global game industry. These indie developers are often distributing their games using digital distribution with a self-publishing business model. While the possibilities to reach a large global audience are expanding with digital distribution, there are also challenges for the developers, where the work tasks previously handled by a publisher now has to be handled by the developers themselves. One such work task directly related to the globalness of the game industry is localization, which is the process of altering a product in such ways it can be used by consumers in a specific target market. 

The main objective of the thesis project is to understand how indie game developers are working with game localization as a part of the development process. In this case, "indie" refers to developers with limited resources in terms of financing and manpower, using a self-publishing business model. The research has partly been carried out through participatory field studies in close connection to indie game developers and development clusters in Sweden, China, and India. In addition to this, the technical aspects of game localization have been scrutinized through studies of localization support in commonly used game engines and game development tools.

The results of the thesis show that game localization is an important development task due to the global nature of the game industry, but that its complexity often is underestimated by the developers. To reach a large player base, localization is a must and should be planned for early in the process. Further, the results show that game localization is less resource demanding ifusing a localization friendly production pipeline, and that the tools to set up such production pipelines are available in all major game engines

Abstract [sv]

Under de senaste åren har en ökning av små, oberoende spelutvecklare blivit en stor del av den globala spelindustrin. Dessa indieutvecklare distribuerar ofta sina spel med hjälp av digitala distributionskanaler och agerar ofta även utgivare för sina egna spel. Samtidigt som möjligheterna att nå en stor global publik ökat med digital distribution finns det även utmaningar. Ett exempel är de arbetsuppgifter som tidigare sköttes av en förläggare eller utgivare och som nu måste skötas av utvecklarna själva. En sådan arbetsuppgift är lokalisering, en arbetsuppgift som dessutom är av stor vikt för att kunna nå en global spelarbas. 

Huvudsyftet med denna avhandling är att förstå hur små, oberoende spelutvecklare, ofta kallade indiespelsutvecklare, arbetar med lokalisering som en del av spelutvecklingsprocessen. I det här fallet syftar "indie" på utvecklare med begränsade resurser vad gäller finansiering och arbetskraft och som använder en självpublicerande affärsmodell. Avhandlingsarbetet har delvis utförts genom deltagande fältstudier i nära anslutning till indiespelsutvecklare och spelutvecklingskluster i Sverige, Kina och Indien. Utöver detta har de tekniska aspekterna av spellokalisering granskats genom studier av lokaliseringsstöd i vanligt förekommande spelmotorer och spelutvecklingsverktyg.

Resultaten från avhandlingen visar att spellokalisering är en viktig arbetsuppgift i spelutvecklingssammanhang. Detta på grund av att spelindustrin är global och att ett spel direkt har möjligheten att nå en stor internationell målgrupp. Däremot underskattas komplexiteten gällande lokaliseringsarbete vilket medför att lokaliseringsrelaterade frågor prioriteras ner i tidigt utvecklingsprocessen. Detta kan få stora konsekvenser i ett senare stadie, och resultaten från avhandlingen visar att lokalisering bör planeras tidigt i processen för att spara tid och resurser. Vidare pekar resultaten på att spellokalisering är mindre resurskrävande om man använder en lokaliseringsvänlig produktionspipelineoch att verktyg för att sätta upp sådana produktionspipelines finns tillgängliga i alla vanligt förekommande spelmotorer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Skövde: University of Skövde , 2022. , p. x, 75
Series
Dissertation Series ; 47
Keywords [en]
game development, localization, game development process, indie games
National Category
Computer and Information Sciences
Research subject
GAME Research Group
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-21822ISBN: 978-91-987906-1-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-21822DiVA, id: diva2:1696543
Public defence
2022-09-29, Portalen, Insikten, Kanikegränd 3B, Skövde, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Ett av sex delarbeten (övriga se rubriken Delarbeten/List of papers):

Toftedahl, M. (2021). Towards a deeper understanding of localization as a game development process: Game studio studies in Sweden and China. Submitted to Entertainment Computing (in review).

Available from: 2022-09-19 Created: 2022-09-16 Last updated: 2022-09-26Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Localization and Regional Aspects of Game Production - A Research Overview
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Localization and Regional Aspects of Game Production - A Research Overview
2020 (English)In: Proceedings of the International Conferences on Interfaces and Human Computer Interaction 2020, and Game and Entertainment Technologies 2020: July 23 - 25, 2020 / [ed] Katherine Blashki, IADIS Press, 2020, p. 135-143Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper focus on how localization is addressed in research on game development processes. The research aim is to get an understanding of how localization, game localization and its subsets of content and cultural issues, linguistic issues and technical issues are addressed and discussed in game development research. This has been done through a literature study, where 488 papers regarding game development processes have been scrutinized in order to identify game localization related research. The results shows that localization is rarely addressed in game development research, but regional aspects and relevant concepts related to game localization can be found.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IADIS Press, 2020
Series
Computer Science and Information Systems Series
Keywords
localization, game development, regional aspects, game development, creative industries, software development, dataspel, lokalisering, dataspelsutveckling
National Category
Computer and Information Sciences
Research subject
Interaction Lab (ILAB)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-18877 (URN)2-s2.0-85101136348 (Scopus ID)978-989-8704-20-7 (ISBN)
Conference
14th IADIS International Conference Interfaces and Human Computer Interaction 2020, IHCI 2020 and 13th IADIS International Conference Game and Entertainment Technologies 2020, GET 2020, Part of the 14th Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems, MCCSIS 2020, Virtual, Online, 23 July 2020 - 25 July 2020
Projects
Game Hub Scandinavia 2.0
Funder
Interreg Öresund-Kattegat-Skagerrak
Note

International Association for Development of the Information Society

Available from: 2020-08-12 Created: 2020-08-12 Last updated: 2022-09-18Bibliographically approved
2. Localization from an Indie Game Production Perspective: Why, When and How?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Localization from an Indie Game Production Perspective: Why, When and How?
2018 (English)In: DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message, Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) , 2018Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper investigates the process of game localization from an indie development perspective. The global nature of the digitally distributed game industry gives opportunities for game studios of all sizes to develop and distribute games on a global market. This poses a challenge for small independent developers with limited resources in funding and personnel, seeking to get as wide spread of their game as possible. To reach the players in other regions of the world localization needs to be done, taking language and other regional differences in mind. In an AAA or big-budget game production, these questions are handled by separate entities focusing solely on the localization process – but how do small independent game developers handle this? Indie game developers in Sweden, China and India have been interviewed to investigate the research question of how do indie game developers handle localization in the development process. The results points to a widespread use of community- and fan translation, and that only basic localization is done i.e. culturalization aspects are not considered. The results also show that the reason for localizing can be both business decisions but also to spread a specific message using games.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA), 2018
Series
Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA), E-ISSN 2342-9666
Keywords
game development, indie game, localization, game production
National Category
Computer and Information Sciences
Research subject
Interaction Lab (ILAB)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-16133 (URN)
Conference
DIGRA 2018: The 11th Digital Games Research Association Conference, Turin, Italy, July 25-28, 2018
Funder
Interreg Öresund-Kattegat-Skagerrak
Available from: 2018-09-03 Created: 2018-09-03 Last updated: 2022-09-16
3. Missing: Understanding the Reception of a Serious Game by Analyzing App Store Data
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Missing: Understanding the Reception of a Serious Game by Analyzing App Store Data
2018 (English)In: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SERIOUS GAMES, E-ISSN 2384-8766, Vol. 5, no 4, p. 3-22Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The focus of this paper is the design and player reception of a serious game called Missing released on Google Play with the intention of spreading awareness of trafficking and its impact on individuals and society. The aim of the paper is to investigate how the game has been received by its players, focusing on its trafficking theme, by analyzing player metrics and app store data available from the Google Play digital distribution system. The paper presents results focusing on three main knowledge contributions: the identification and characterization of the tension between the designer’s intention with a game’s mechanics and how they help to convey the message of the game, the identification of the complexity of finding relevant reviews relating to the serious theme of the game and the identification and characterization of the tension between the star rating and the content of the reviews. One of the conclusions is that even a negative review can mirror a positive result in terms of fulfillment of the purpose.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Serious Games Society, 2018
Keywords
Serious games, Games for change, Metrics, App store, Smartphone, Trafficking
National Category
Computer and Information Sciences
Research subject
Interaction Lab (ILAB)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-16533 (URN)10.17083/ijsg.v5i4.251 (DOI)000457988700001 ()
Projects
Game Hub Scandinavia
Funder
Interreg Öresund-Kattegat-Skagerrak, NYPS 20200428
Note

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Available from: 2018-12-27 Created: 2018-12-27 Last updated: 2022-09-16Bibliographically approved
4. A Taxonomy of Game Engines and the Tools that Drive the Industry
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Taxonomy of Game Engines and the Tools that Drive the Industry
2019 (English)In: DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix / [ed] Akinori Nakamura, Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) , 2019Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Game engines are a vital part of a game production pipeline, but there is a vagueness of definitions regarding the boundaries of components in a game engine and the rest of the production tools used in a game development pipeline. The aim of this paper is to nuance the use of the term game engine and to put it into the context of a game development pipeline. Based on data from the current state of game production, a proposed taxonomy for tools in game development is presented. A distinction is made between user facing tools and product facing tools. A defining characteristic of the production pipeline and game engines is their plasticity. One of the conclusions is that a “game engine” as a single entity containing the whole game production pipeline is not desirable due to the large number of competences and needs involved in a game development project.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA), 2019
Series
Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA), E-ISSN 2342-9666
Keywords
Game production, Game research, Game industry, Game engines, Game production tools
National Category
Interaction Technologies
Research subject
Interaction Lab (ILAB)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-17706 (URN)
Conference
DiGRA 2019, The 12th Digital Games Research Association Conference, Kyoto, Japan, August, 6-10, 2019
Projects
Game Hub Scandinavia 2.0
Funder
Interreg Öresund-Kattegat-Skagerrak, NYPS 20200428
Available from: 2019-09-19 Created: 2019-09-19 Last updated: 2022-09-16Bibliographically approved
5. Localization Tools in General Purpose Game Engines: A Systematic Mapping Study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Localization Tools in General Purpose Game Engines: A Systematic Mapping Study
2021 (English)In: International Journal of Computer Games Technology, ISSN 1687-7047, E-ISSN 1687-7055, Vol. 2021, article id 9979657Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper addresses localization from a game development perspective by studying the state of tool support for a localization work in general purpose game engines. Using a systematic mapping study, the most commonly used game engines and their official tool libraries are studied. The results indicate that even though localization tools exists for the game engines included in the study, the visibility, availability, and functionality differ. Localization tools that are user facing, i.e., used to create localization, are scarce while many are tool facing, i.e., used to import localization kits made outside the production pipeline.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2021
Keywords
game development, localization, game engine, game development tools, game production, unity, unreal
National Category
Computer Sciences
Research subject
Media, Technology and Culture (MTEC)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-20404 (URN)10.1155/2021/9979657 (DOI)000680193200001 ()2-s2.0-85112046729 (Scopus ID)
Projects
Game Hub Scandinavia 2.0
Funder
Interreg Öresund-Kattegat-Skagerrak, NYPS 20201849
Note

CC BY 4.0

This research has been funded by the Game Hub Scandinavia 2.0 project under the Interreg Öresund-Kattegat-Skagerrak European Regional Development Fund (Project ID NYPS 20201849).

Available from: 2021-08-12 Created: 2021-08-12 Last updated: 2022-09-16Bibliographically approved

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