What are they, and why are they necessary?
In most fields, a glossary is a dictionary of highly specialized terms. Each entry includes a gloss, comments, examples, and sometimes a translation into another language. This definition is generally applicable here, but in video game translation the glossary serves a more specific purpose and includes things that may not technically count as terms.
Glossaries for game texts include not only terms included in the game’s mechanics and interface but also game elements such as location names, items, character names, skills, spells, and much more. This ensures consistent translation of these words throughout the text. After all, one project might be completed by several translators and/or may be so large that even a project-wide translator might forget how they previously translated a term. Also, a project might stretch over a long period of time – for example, an update may be released six months later.
Why are glossaries so important?
Imagine the follow scenario: two translators working on different parts of a text encounter the same item, called the “Клинок Истины” in the source language. One decides to translate it as “Sword of Truth,” while the other decides on “Blade of Verity.” Both translations are correct and valid. But in the resulting game, the player finds an NPC asking them to find the Sword of Truth and embarks to fulfill the quest – and will never find it, since it does not exist. There is a Blade of Verity that happens to be sitting in a chest nearby, but even if the player finds it, they won’t think it important. At best, the more thoughtful players will realize this is simply a translation issue.
But what if the problem involves a character name? What if one single character is in different places referred to alternatively as Zhenya and Eugene, another as Esteban and Steven, and another as Pierre and Peter, since one translator decided to translate and the other decided to transliterate? This could make the game unplayable if interacting with these characters is essential to progressing through the story – resulting in disappointed players, bad reviews, and poor sales, all because of an inconsistent translation caused by an absent or incomplete glossary.
Game localization has many elements which may seem of little consequence at first but can directly affect your game’s success. Remember all of these nuances during the complex localization process, and trust your game’s localization to professionals