My first computer was a large Macintosh cube with a small screen, which my mother purchased at a garage sale in the mid-1990s for $25. About the only thing this already-obsolete machine could do was run a word processor and the early video game Oregon Trail.
So I printed out essays on the hideous-feeling paper that had come with the purchase, and occasionally sat in front of the screen “playing” with my four younger siblings, which basically consisted of us watching digitized wagon wheels roll across a pixelated prairie. We waited for the computer to inform us that one of us, usually me, had died of snakebite or cholera. It was like the world’s most boring historical fiction program, personalized with our names. Since we did not have television, however, my sibling’s entertainment expectations were fantastically low, so they went on to invent scenarios like Star Wars-themed Oregon Trail, and cackled with glee when Chewbacca traded for bullets or shot a bison.
I had largely forgotten about this until I was reading the articles for this issue, and came across one that mentioned early video games. The author, Julie Brink, was pointing out that people of my generation have been playing video games since our childhood. And so we have, even those of us that don’t play them regularly. Even if we dislike video games theoretically, we are very familiar with them, and the “alternative media” that was first news to my generation has quickly become mainstream. I had a college Facebook account back when Facebook was college-only, and have been blogging for about a decade now in spite of my initial disgust when they told us in journalism class that everything was going online and we’d better learn to adapt. That’s old news, as they say, and now it’s not a matter of adapting to “alternative media,” it’s a matter of how to do it effectively and intuitively. Like many infants, my baby niece knew how to unlock an iPhone in order to play with it before she had even reached the age of one. That means it’s a pretty intuitive, and highly intriguing, interface.
In alternative media, you’ve got to look for the intuitive and the intriguing — for example, using the idea of games to improve non-game performance, which is something Christopher S. Carter talks about in the opening to our focus. To improve real games, Ben Warren has some tips on audio localization. Next, Ben Bateman discusses his take on video game editing, perhaps better explained as video game dialogue tweaking. Then there’s Julie Brink’s article on game-based learning and Talia Baruch’s explanations of localizing brand names, which is helped out by Benjamin B. Sargent’s sidebar on social media and global strategy (I hope you’re keeping up with the Benjamins, because there are quite a few showcased in this issue).
Elsewhere in the magazine, Anja Rütten details the theory and practice of translation memories for interpreters, Kate Edwards looks at the Falkland Islands and Terena Bell ties the Occupy movement to the localization industry. Angelika Zerfaß reviews memoQ 5.0 and Deborah Schaffer reviews Amglish by Arthur E. Rowse. Michael Cárdenas wraps it all up with a Takeaway on keeping your clients happy.