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Translation needs to respond to different functions assigned to these different assets as well as accommodating specific constraints which arise from the nature of the medium as well as work practices. Compared to productivity software localization, translating game texts has a greater number of specific restrictions inherent in the medium both technically and also for socio-cultural reasons such as age rating issues. In order to further systematize our observations on game translation, we draw on a broadly functionalist perspective based on Nord, making particular reference to her approach to translation problems (1997, 64–68) before linking it to a discussion on translation strategies. Her hierarchy of translation problems developed for didactic purposes takes a top-down approach, moving from pragmatic, intercultural, and interlingual kinds, to text-specific problems in contrast to an ST-oriented bottom-up approach. According to Nord (ibid.), the pragmatic problems refer to culture-bound phenomena which need to be adjusted depending on the TT contexts based on the translation brief. The intercultural issues in turn refer to different norms and conventions associated with text types. Interlingual problems arise from structural differences between SL and TL. Finally, the text-specific issues refer to challenges such as figures of speech, puns, etc. specific to the given text.
Following Nord, a functional translation process starts with deciding whether the ST should be reproduced as such ("documentary translation" in which the recipient is well aware it is a translation) or whether the ST should be adapted to a new communicative situation in the TT ("instrumental translation" in which the function of the ST is preserved in the TT). This distinction in turn leads the translation style to either conform to source-culture or target-culture conventions (Nord ibid., 68). Finally, text-specific issues are tackled. Game localization, in our view, mainly fits what Nord terms "instrumental translation", which calls for preserving the function of the ST but is produced as an independent text adjusted to the new communicative situation of the TT. However, as shown in game text taxonomy, different game genres and text types present within a single game serving different functions mean that certain assets may be translated in a way which is oriented towards documentary translation. For example, some of the non-diegetic elements such as system messages, legal information or certain UI items will fall into this category.
In an attempt to highlight some of the main translation strategies used to deal with different types of translation problems of game text, we refer to Nord's translation problems mentioned above but only focus on the most relevant "pragmatic translation problems" and also some examples of "interlingual translation problems". In the discussion below, we link these categorizations of problems by Nord to Chesterman's pragmatic translation strategies (1997, 107) (see Schäffner 2001). They are essentially macro strategies formulated as a result of "a translator's global decisions concerning the appropriate way to translate the text as a whole", and thus are concerned with "the selection of information in the TT" by the translator, in view of the TT readership (ibid.). There are different types of strategies used depending on the context, but the most common in game localization is what Chesterman (1997, 108) calls "cultural filtering", which is analogous to adaptation. We use Chesterman's term given that the definition of adaptation remains unclear in Translation Studies. However, it has to be acknowledged that among the more recent observations on adaptation as a translation strategy is its advocacy in the wider translation community, including some Asian traditions (Baker 2011, 50; O'Hagan 2012a). As far as poetry and drama translation are concerned, translations that deviate considerably from the original text to include target culture references are often considered adaptations. Giving the example of classical Greek plays that develop their plot but are not based on the translation of the original dialogue, Munday (2009, 166) suggests that adaptation denotes "a TT that draws on an ST but which has extensively modified it for a new cultural context" Such extensive modifications may also be found in other types of translation (e.g. the translation of children's literature, dramatic production, comics, and advertising) albeit to a lesser extent. However, adaptation remains a nebulous concept in Translation Studies, often loosely linked to localization where "some see localization as an unconstrained form of adaptation" despite "quite extreme constraints" (Pym 2010, 120). This raises questions of whether the concept of“adaptation" is too general, especially for characterizing game localization in the context of Translation Studies. For now, cultural filtering provides a pragmatic label for the frequently applied manipulation in game localization, which also influences lower level operations concerning interlingual issues. Moving from macro-to more micro-strategies concerned with the difference between the specific SL and TL pair, we then focus on interlingual issues likely to arise in the process of game localization.