What is Video Game Culturalization?
Some game developers and publishers may think “culturalization” is just another term for “localization”. This thinking can’t be blamed as many are still not familiar with culturalization yet. Moreover, it may be confusing simply because culturalization is just a more specific branch of localization. In culturalization, we need to drop the focus on just language or translation, and rather work harder on the content itself.
This means rethinking creative choices by learning and adapting to one region’s cultural environment while being free of any kind of insensitive or offensive remarks.
In her book, a handbook on game culturalization, Kate Edwards very popularly described Culturalization as:
“a step beyond localization, making a more fundamental examination of a game’s assumptions and choices, and then assesses the viability of those creative choices in both the global, multicultural marketplace as well as in specific locales.
While localization assists gamers with simply comprehending the game’s content through translation, culturalization allows gamers to engage with the game’s content at a potentially more meaningful level. Or conversely, culturalization ensures that gamers will not be disengaged by a piece of content that is considered incongruent or even offensive in the game’s environment.”
In today’s world it is very important that a game doesn’t include any Cultural mistakes, as it may potentially incur the wrath of the online community, loss of potential revenue but the greater effects of negative public relations, damage to corporate image, and strained relations with the local government, as we’ve seen in some recent cases.
So to summarise, Game culturalization comprises of three fundamental steps:
Reactive culturalization: Make the content viable; i.e., avoid disruptive issues to allow a game to remain in the target market.
Localization & Internationalization: Make the content legible; i.e., perform “typical” localization to allow the game to be understood.
Proactive culturalization: Make the content meaningful; i.e., adapt and provide locale-specific options to allow the game to be locally relevant.
Originally, Culturalization considers the following 4 key factors:
- History: Past and Present
- Religion and Belief Systems
- Ethnicity and Cultural Friction
- Geopolitical Imaginations
In today’s day and age, a lot of other factors translate to very important issues like following:
- Sensitivity towards identity politics
- Sensitivity towards race, creed and religion
- Usage of gender normative terms”