Interculturele Communicatie

Presentaties BA-cursus, blok 2 2010-2011, Dep. Nederlands, Universiteit van Utrecht

The Sims 2: Creative Translation in Localized Game Versions

All localized game versions are equivalent; but some are more equivalent than others.

My contrastive research was on the topic of game localization. The principle by which the current field stands is that localized versions should retain a “locally-made” feel. But how does that play out in reality?

The Sims 2 is a game with global mass-appeal. It comes in 23 language versions and the notion of cultural and functional equivalence is crucial here. I investigate how such equivalence is achieved by analysing creative methods used by translators in the localizing process. The methods pertain to cognitive psychology and illustrate how perception of the text affects translation. Successful creative translation relies thus on being able to shift one’s point of view in order to capture and fit the message into the target language and culture.

I have compared the original, English version of the game with its two localized versions – Polish and Dutch. The scope of my comparison included cultural references and idiomatic language use – two types of content which is culturally-specific and linguistically-sensitive, and the two types of content which requires creative translation methods. My analysis focused primarily on instances where cultural and/or functional equivalence was achieved.

The results have shown that Dutch had more instances of cultural and functional equivalence, but it is interesting to note that Polish in certain aspects was equally or more equivalent. Some problematic cases were also found. Cultural references were translated using the widest array of creative methods; idioms often had direct equivalents in target languages.

In conclusion, the “locally-made” feeling was for the most part preserved in the localized versions, with some creative methods being more frequently employed.

The disscusion points revolve around the question whether careful localization and covert translation of games is actually necessary in this global day and age.


O’Hagan, M., & Mangiron, C. (2006). Game Localisation: Unleashing Imagination with ‘Restricted’ Translation. Retrieved from The Journal of Specialised Translation: