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Mangiron, Carme, Pilar Orero and Minako O'Hagan (eds) (2013). Videogame Localisation and Accessibility: Fun for All.

Bern: Peter Lang, 309 pp. 309, 81.65€/£65. ISBN 978-3-0343-1450-3 (paperback)/ISBN 978-3-0351-0667-1 (eBook).

This book is an indispensable tool for practitioners and researchers of videogame localisation, as it succeeds in meeting two objectives: first, it approaches the field of game localisation from an academic point of view, with relevant empirical-based research papers; secondly, it contributes to progress in the area by setting the relationship between accessibility and the adaptation of digital entertainment. Moreover, the book does cover some topics that are frequently ignored, such as age and videogames, and usability.

The volume specifically addresses game accessibility, a theme that has been almost exclusively studied from a technical perspective. In this sense, it can be stated that the authors contribute to making game accessibility more ‘accessible’ since this work provides new insights from the point of view of translation and languages. In fact, the book succeeds in attempting to further establish game localisation research in Translation Studies.

The book is divided into two sections: the first one is devoted to game accessibility whilst the second one deals with game localisation. The introduction by the authors highlights the importance of promoting game accessibility, in particular from the early stages of the development of videogames, and reflects on the role of games localisation within Translation Studies, offering some suggestions for future research lines (such as fan translation or socio-cultural issues).

The paper opening the book, by Dimitris Grammenos, approaches universally accessible games, emphasising that games need to be adapted in order to serve the requirements of each gamer; Grammenos also introduces the concept of “parallel game universes” as a means of supporting multiplayer sessions amongst people with diverse disabilities.

The second contribution, by Fernández Costales, underlines that the relationship between translation and accessibility in the context of the gaming industry needs to be further explored, and supports the idea that translation is a key element to fostering e-inclusion.

The third article, by Javier Torrente et al. engages with accessible educational games, concluding that games have to be inclusive and available to everyone. This work also presents eAdventure, a platform intended to allow the design of educational point-and-click adventure games with built-in accessibility features.

The fourth paper, by Javier Mairena, provides a series of guidelines with which to design accessible games as well as a categorisation of the main disability user groups with suggestions of possible solutions to overcome their main difficulties when playing games. 

The second section opens with Lepre’s paper, which revisits the concept of ludology in order to approach the cultural adaptation of Japanese videogames for the international market, concluding that users’ experience can be kept as long as the gameplay remains unaltered.

Van Oers’ work reports on the case study of the Dutch localised version of a videogame in order to analyse the translation strategies used when dealing with diegetic text, concluding that literal translation is (surprisingly) the most common choice.

Gianna Tarquini categorises game localisation as a type of constrained translation and addresses the challenges posed by the common practice of having to translate a videogame without having access to it.

In the fourth paper, Rafael Müller deals with the emerging trend of videogames fan translation, reporting on the analysis of the Brazilian fan translation of the Japanese version of Chrono Trigger, and he highlights the need to further investigate the amateur adaptation of videogames.

Next, Xiaochun Zhang tackles terminology management in game localisation, stressing that it can be extremely beneficial for the game localisation industry and discusses the processes and methods of managing terms in industrial practice.

In the sixth paper, Stephen Mandiberg explains why so far game localisation has not been able to make accesible games for certain audiences, such as communities in the diaspora. After focusing on the case of the Chinese Diaspora, the author proposes “omnilingual language implementation” as a solution to this problem.

The contribution by Carrera and Arrés analyses the current offer of training in game localisation in Spanish universities. The authors conclude that this is insufficient and does not meet the current demands of the game localisation industry and suggest several strategies to remediate this situation.

The paper by Victor Alonso aims at providing guidance on successful (and unsuccessful) methods for approaching game localisation in a new global environment which is also locally focused, concluding that project management is a key competence for localisers and companies in the sector.

The book closes with Kate Edwards’ contribution on game culturalisation, which is essential to achieve games with more locally-relevant content and to avoid possible negative backlash for game developers. Edwards provides a comprehensive review of the levels of game culturalisation to be taken into account concluding that cultural elements have to be necessarily approached in game localisation.

The great amount of research-based contributions included in this work turns it into a very updated and trustworthy reference. In a nutshell, Video Game Localisation and Accessibility: Fun for All is a must for anyone interested in game localisation and / or accessibility.


Alberto Fernández Costales
Catalonia’s Ambient Intelligence and Accessibility Centre, TransMedia Catalonia Research Group