All about… Ukraine
The vast majority of people in Ukraine speak and understand Russian, so why bother translating your games into the native Ukrainian?
That’s a question that most developers and publishers find themselves asking, and the conclusion is invariably: ‘We shouldn’t’.
“Since Ukraine is a country where Russian is spoken and understood by 99.9% of populace, a title localised into Ukrainian may be an extremely rare bird here even these days,” says leading video games translator Yevgeniy Oliynyk.
“During my career in game localisation – which is more than 10 years already – probably less than a dozen titles were localised into Ukrainian by me. Although I am not talking about the marketing materials, which usually require translation, since Ukrainian is a state language and should be used everywhere, but even this is very often omitted as well.”
Yet developers and publishers may be missing out on some goodwill in a country that boasts a rising games market, despite political unrest in the territory.
Stat tracker SuperData says that the average playing time for gamers in Ukraine is the third highest in Eastern Europe (82 days) just behind Poland and Turkey. Ukrainian gamers actually play games far more frequently than those in neighbouring Russia (70 days).
However, despite the popularity of games, Ukrainian consumers currently do not spend a great deal of money on them. Euromonitor expects video game sales to hit just £57m in 2015. This is because free-to-play and social games, which do not require people to spend money, are very popular in the region.
But that could change if publishers and developer started treating the territory with more care. Russian is a language that is beginning to fade away among younger Ukrainians. What’s more, there is now hostility towards Russian imports by some consumers.
“[Translating into Ukrainian] would show that the publisher or developer cares about the Ukrainian-speaking audience, especially nowadays, when struggling with the Russia-backed invasion takes place in the East of my country, and the patriotic spirit is getting higher and higher all the time,” continues Oliynyk.
“The fact is that most of the older generations in the ex-USSR countries speak or understand Russian. The younger generations – those, who went to school or were born after the collapse of the USSR – tend to know it less and less. Since Russian is not a compulsory subject on the school curriculum nowadays, the translation into languages other than Russian may soon become just a bare necessity.”
For those looking to localise their games into Ukrainian, there are certain things to take into account. Including the following:
1. Ukrainian words are often longer than most English words
“Very often we are asked to make sure the length of the word in Russian and Ukrainian is the same length, or does not exceed the length, of the English word,” explains Oliynyk.
“If we agree to this, the result is a crazy acronym no end user may understand.”
2. Be way of obscenities
“While certain swear words may very often by considered normal in English, use of their equivalents in Russian and Ukrainian could cause a game to be banned, so please avoid them, or just use the milder language.”
A good translator will be able to provide advice on what words are likely to cause you trouble in the territory.
3. Language differences
The Ukrainian language can have multiple plural forms for nouns and adjectives, more so than English, while how verbs are expressed can cause issues when translating from English to Ukrainian. What’s more, it is important to know the gender of who is speaking in the game, as they have different forms in Ukrainian. Again, a good translator can help with this.
Ultimately, Ukraine may not currently be viewed as a particularly lucrative territory for video games, but it has an active base of players. And if publishers and developers try to win the hearts of fans in this market with a bit of localised effort, then the results could be significant for everyone involved.
Image courtesy of skhakirov
Universally Speaking shortlisted for a TIGA Games Industry Award
Universally Speaking, an award winning localisation, quality assurance and audio services supplier for the games industry, has been shortlisted as a finalist for the 2015 TIGA Games Industry Awards, in the Quality Assurance Provider category.
The TIGA Games Industry Awards are designed to give the whole industry a chance to showcase its achievements and encourage the next generation.
The team at Universally Speaking feel honoured to once again be included in the shortlist for this category, for what is the third consecutive year.
Vickie Peggs, Universally Speaking’s CEO, said “We are privileged to be in the position of being able to work with so many fantastic games and at the same time receive recognition for our commitment to quality. This nomination is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of each of our team members, but it would not be possible without the support of our clients.”
Universally Speaking are very committed to the work TIGA do for the video games industry in the UK and are proud to be involved not just in the awards but with TIGA as an organisation with a meaningful purpose. Amongst other ways, Univerally Speaking have demonsrated that commitment by becoming a Silver Sponsor for the 2015 TIGA Games Industry Awards.
The ceremony will take place on Thursday 12th November at the beautifully restored LSO St Luke’s, near Old Street in London.
Meet the team: James Cubitt, QA Manager
In the first of a series of articles introducing the various employees at Universally Speaking, we sit down with our Quality Assurance Manager James Cubitt.
James has been a key member of the Universally Speaking family for almost a decade, rising up from a temporary employee into the department’s experienced leader. Here we discuss his career so far, the challenges he faces day-to-day and how others can break into, and succeed within, the competitive world of quality assurance.
Tell us, how did you get involved with Universally Speaking?
I started working in a temporary position on some PlayStation 2 titles, having been first introduced to the business through a friend. Shortly afterwards, I was offered to take part in a pilot apprenticeship for video games testers. I passed that, and then worked my way up from tester, to Lead, to Co-ordinator, through to QA Manager within Universally Speaking.
What does a typical working day look like to you?
Hectic! Our team has grown to such an extent that it is imperative that we maintain that high level of quality across the entire division. On top of this, being as reactive as we can to our clients’ needs can be challenging at short notice, but I have a great team behind me and at the end of the day, we have very happy clients.
What has been your career highlight so far?
Two things immediately spring to mind. I have worked on a huge number of titles, including several really prestigious projects that were a real honour to work on. On the other side, there are many people I have worked with as testers, who have now moved on to do what they love within other areas of this great industry. It is great to think that we have been able to act as a launch pad for these people to get where they are today.
What would you say are the biggest challenges about what you do?
Scheduling, flexibility and short notice requests. It’s how this industry works – we have tight deadlines and sometimes new issues crop up due to a small tweak, which means that emergency testing is required. We always do our utmost to accommodate these urgent requests, and I am happy to say that 95 per cent of the time we manage to meet these demands. The other side of things is that sometimes builds just won’t work as expected, which means the testing process has to be delayed. This then affects the whole QA schedule, which has to be re-worked.
You are clearly a big gamer. What sort of games do you like to play?
Oh it’s a mix really… it all depends on the mood and what’s currently out to buy. I do play a lot of older titles such as [PC alien strategy series] XCOM, but I also enjoy creative games, role-playing games and shooters. Pretty much everything… except sports games. Not sports games.
Finally, what advice would you give for someone trying to break into quality assurance?
Passion, accuracy and flexibility are all attributes that I look for when searching for new talent to work within our QA department.