Bungie Discusses The Localization Process For Destiny
It’s harder than it seems, you know.
Localization was something that was completely new to Bungie with Destiny- it wanted to avoid the common pitfall of Anglo-centrism that so many games and game developers make with their game, and make it feel truly international, especially since so many players from all over the world would be playing. Translation would, of course be, one step of the solution to the problem, but it was more complicated than just that.
Originally, Bungie had The Tower full of signs, and the signs were all in English. Bungie’s initial idea had been to translate the signs to other languages for other languages versions, before they realized that the translation did not always go down well, linguistically and/or aesthetically. Their solution? Never communicating anything essential to players via text, and instead developing a universal series of gestures and symbols that transcended language, via the UI. And all of this was done so that every player would feel at home.
I gotta say, for as much as I like to get on Bungie’s case for everything that it did wrong with Destiny, I have to give them mad credit here- something like this requires an extraordinarily astute amount of sensitivity and empathy, and I am glad to see a major video game actively working to counter Anglo-centrism, which is a great problem in the industry today.
Hopefully other games follow suit.
Source: GDC Presentation.