XLOC’s president and co-founder Stephanie O’Malley Deming just wrapped working with Activision on a very high profile game coming out this holiday. “That end-of-the-project push is so exciting and exhilarating. For a game of that size, there are so many loose ends to wrap up. From a production perspective, you need to be quick, focused and on-point. It’s truly a worldwide team effort“ says Deming. She sat down with Gamesauce to discuss the importance of localization and her process in her work at XLOC, Activision’s latest title, and the games industry overall.
Roots and Branches in Localization
With almost 15 years of industry experience in her pocket, Deming has worked with worldwide, award-winning educational and entertainment products for companies including Activision, Electronic Arts, LucasArts, Capcom, and 2K Games. She started out learning production and programming in the early 90s at a company for kids’ games. A few years later, she moved to Activision and learned the intricacies of studio management. She organized internal studio talent at a time when Activision had several internal teams working under one roof.
Deming’s experience in localization began when she moved into an associate producer position on Civilization: Call to Power. Deming shares, “I loved working on Call to Power because of the camaraderie of the development team, but it certainly was hard work. There is a true sense of accomplishment after putting so much of yourself into a game.”
On Call To Power, Deming helped manage both the internal team and the simultaneous localizations. “This was fairly rare at the time,” explains Deming. “From there, I consulted on numerous projects and built the XLOC product along with my partner. Since then, we’ve partnered with many publishers and developers in their localization efforts.”
Growing Industry, Growing Need
Certainly, Deming has a wealth of successes in localization—including high-profile titles such as Guitar Hero, BioShock, Call of Duty, and Tony Hawk. “XLOC has been my favorite development, as I know we have been an integral part of many games and their localization success. Analyzing production and localization needs as they have changed throughout the years and then incorporating them into our product has been very interesting.“
The process of making internationally accessible games is iterative but also undoubtedly valuable to the games industry. “Outside of the obvious factor that having a global view of a games release means more revenue, I think publishers realize global accessibility of their games is inevitable, particularly because our digital world is so much ‘smaller’,” says Deming. “We love working with all developers, especially those that value their international market.”
As the games industry looks into the future of massively multiplayer and social networking games, localization is especially important. Deming explains, “[These types of] games link people from all countries together, but the life experiences of those in that world audience is not the same. We need to be sensitive to that and understand how we, as developers, can incorporate the fun and immersive elements of games to that audience.”
Education, Early Implementation, Better Localization
The biggest challenge Deming has faced in the localization of games has two components: Firstly, there’s a need to educate developers to consider cultural differences in games and how those cultural differences can be incorporated into the core game to be appealing to worldwide audiences. This is resolved with “good old-fashioned education, understanding the game, and unraveling its goals and different territory requirements.” Secondly, and perhaps the greater part of the challenge, is in the actual implementation of these differences.
Deming describes: “As an example, strings developed in English may easily be concatenated (created by sentence fragments). However, concatenation is much more complicated in other languages that have specific gender rules. If this is the route taken, the developer will have to modify code to account for these expanded gender rules. This can be very complicated and unless discussed and planned early, can be very difficult to implement.”
Ultimately, localization is a layered process. “Overcoming these issues is all about early education and international consideration from people that understand from both a code perspective as well as an international one.”
Stephanie O’Malley Deming is enjoying the holidays at XLOC and looks forward to the international success of Activision’s latest game.