It's LocJAM time again! LocJAM is a yearly game localization contest for both newbie and experienced translators. It’s free, and open to everyone. You have two weeks to translate a game that would normally take a day or two to finish, and you might even win a small prize.
Last year I gave you some pointers on how to translate a game for LocJAM.
This time I will share a few tips on how to get the most out of your participation.
Play the game, and refine your work accordingly.
Playing a game you translated is special. Playing it right away literally happens once per year. Even the chance to get to know a game before working on it is rare. As a freelance game translator, you might get regular build updates—if you work directly with the developer. But you will almost certainly never have instant access to your translated game. Put this opportunity to good use by fixing text overflows, information text bugs, wrong translations, and any other issues you stumble across. Be your own localization tester and enjoy seeing your creations inside the game!
Be active in the forum.
Hundreds or thousands of like-minded people are working on the same project as you, facing the same problems and wondering how to work around a bug or complicated issue. Make use of that. As a freelance translator you are on your own most of the time and have to find solutions pretty much by yourself, especially if you work with small developers. So enjoy group discussions and ask questions. You will get answers to questions you didn't even know you had.
Attend a local study group.
Every year around the LocJAM period, game localization veterans all around the earth offer workshops on game localization. It's an excellent way to learn about the trade while networking. You can find the list of study groups on the LocJAM website. If your city is not on the list, this might be a great opportunity to take that trip you couldn't justify until now.
One rarely sees so many fresh and experienced game localizers actively gathered in one (virtual) place as on the IGDA Localization SIG Facebook group during (and outside of) the LocJAM. This is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, form new friendships and future collaborations. It is a wicked community through which I also landed some cool projects.
Value the lessons.
Obviously we all want to win. But let's remember that we learn by making mistakes. So I urge you to embrace and evaluate them. Even though you won't get direct feedback on your translation, there is lots to learn. The mistakes you make here are the ones you are not going to repeat in your next important translation project.
Add the game to your portfolio.
Congratulations on translating a game! If you're new in the video game localization industry, having translated a whole game all by yourself will be a big deal for you, so be sure to brag about it and add it to your website, online portfolio, or CV. You might even make your translation available to potential clients, e.g. by publishing an excerpt of your translation on your website. This counts as translation experience and gives prospective clients an idea of your translation style.
There are numerous reasons to be grateful. I will list two:
1. Your language combination has been part of the contest.
More and more languages are added every year. There are many localizers though who would sell their little toe to take part but whose language hasn't made it into the contest yet. This is likely due to a lack of jurors and/or participants. So, be grateful :-)
2. The organizers did this all for free.
A lot of people—such as the makers of the game, workshop organizers, jurors, and the IGDA dudes and dudettes, to name a few—worked very hard to organize a fun event for us, to support our professional development, and to help us grow. And it didn't cost us a thing. In my world, that deserves another big fat Dankeschön!
I'm curious to learn how you made the most of the LocJAM. I love reading your comments :)