So last month was a big deal for me, I spent 2 glorious weeks in Riviera Maya, Mexico and just before that I got married to my best mate and love of my life. I would be nothing without her.
While enjoying the sun, sea, tequila, sand, food, tequila, the Mayan ruins, tequila and Coco Bongos (greatest nightclub ever)….oh and tequila….. I noticed something.
Magazines at first, then TV and film and then games…. so much is poorly supported or translated into Spanish for the locals. If you don’t speak or understand English you really are at a disadvantage in this area of the world (which is probably the same for many places but this is where I am right now).
Translation from one language to another is not much of a big deal in this day and age – google almost has that down tight – so when you read the headlines of a magazine in both English and Spanish, and you know enough Spanish to read it without issue….you notice that they both say something similar yet phrased incorrectly and thus displaying the wrong intention or description. Misleading and representing people falsely.
Now the magazine in question was a bit of celebrity tripe but none the less it irritated me more than most, probably down to the fact that I’m Welsh and a typical translation app or program gets it wrong 80% of the time too.
So, this stuck with me… the irking multiplied then when I switched on a little tv while waiting for my new wife to get ready for a night on the Mexican tiles. What I was treated to was at first a humorous Spanish dub of “Friends” with not only marginally accurate translation but also unfitting or as I said, humorous or comedic voices. Voices that seem more at home on the face of a 70’s stereotypical cartoon villain. The kind of voice you roll your eyes at in disbelief due to its over-the-top attempt at being casual or dramatic. Gerard Butler’s efforts at an American accent or Mel Gibson during “Braveheart”.
It begs belief how this kind of humiliation is allowed let alone thought to be considered adequate.
I thought to craft a little experiment. Using a few select games already installed on my phone, I dropped into the settings and changed the language to Spanish and got on with it.
Now I can’t say it’s the same across the board, across all games, genres and languages but of the 5 games I tested I did spot the same trend. Those same voices and the same almost accurate translation.
At this point I felt greatly underwhelmed and sad. Sad at the fact that anyone not from a county where one of the major spoken languages is dominant is missing out on this beloved entertainment medium. Gaming is about immersive escape, about ignoring the world around to be enthralled within another reality, about experiencing something you could not in life.
But that key ingredient was sapped out, my quick escape was sabotaged by that bloody voice again! As if voiced by a spaghetti western bandelero…
Upon returning back the homeland, the lush green valleys of Wales, I tried again on a few steam games but in the only other language I know a little of, French.
This time I was treated to nearly the same experience. The translations were – as best I could manage – spot on but the dubbed voices were again humorous.
So in short, I feel there needs to be much more effort in dispensing top quality content and entertainment to the world. More heart needs to go into replicating the original atmosphere and depth that we see being delivered day in and day out back home.
This was bad enough to the point in which it made me feel guilty for enjoying my games.
What do you guys feel about this? Do you speak multiple languages and have come across this yourselves?
Let us know below.