Special Issue of Analog Game Studies: ‘Analog Games and Translation’

Guest Editor: Jonathan Evans, University of Portsmouth, UK

Call for Papers

This special issue will analyse translation in and of modern analog games, including board games, card games, tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) and live action role-playing games (LARPs). Recent decades have seen the expansion of the hobby of gaming around the world and gaming is now more multinational and multilingual than ever.

Official game production is polycentric, with games being created in many languages across multiple locations. Games are regularly officially translated from one language to another, at least in major languages. The website Drive Thru RPG, for instance, offers games in ten languages. In addition to these official translations, there is also a thriving amateur translation culture for games, with amateur translations of rule sets and other materials appearing for languages where official translations have not been produced (and for which an official translation might not be profitable). Despite a developing body of work on the translation of video games (e.g. O’Hagan and Mangiron 2013, Bernal-Merino 2015), there is less research on the translation of analog games. The little work there is (e.g. Evans 2013) has focused on the translation of rule sets, but there are many other ways in which translation is part of gaming.

Translation may be necessary as part of the gaming situation: as gaming in an international hobby, gaming groups may include players of different native languages, requiring the use of a shared language and other forms of language mediation to allow everyone to play together. Ad-hoc forms of translation may also be necessary for gamers wanting to use rules in other languages (e.g. Chinese gamers playing English-language games).

Translation may be a part of the game itself: some games create worlds where there is explicit mention of language difference (e.g. Numenera), requiring in-game interpreting or translation. Artefacts in other games may be in a language that cannot be understood in-game until some action is completed. Games therefore dramatize and theorize translation as a practice, in ways that might be more or less visible.

A further aspect of translation relates to the question of accessibility (as seen in research on accessibility in video games, e.g. Mangiron, Orero and O’Hagan 2014): how are analog games made accessible for different audiences? As with other aspects of translation, this may be implemented by producers in the form of adapted texts and materials, or by players through the use of signed languages at the gaming table or other means.

Finally, gaming culture is being translated across the world. Game cafés are springing up in the UK and China, among other places, and gaming websites exist in different languages. How does gaming culture interact with local traditions? How does gaming culture spread from one location to another?

This special issue welcomes original articles that deal with the question of translation (and interpreting) in relation to analog games. Any appropriate methodology may be used. The deadline for submission of full articles is 1 September 2019. Publication is planned for December 2019. Articles should be between 2,000 and 9,000 words in length.

If you have any queries, would like a copy of the referencing guidelines or would like to submit an article, please contact the guest editor at jonathan.evans[a]port.ac.uk .

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Theoretical aspects of game translation
  • Historical case studies (e.g. Dungeons and Dragons in different languages)
  • Amateur translation as part of gaming culture
  • The role of digital platforms in facilitating game translation
  • Translation at the table: ad hoc translanguaging as part of game play
  • Sight translation of rules and the dissemination of games
  • In-game translation and interpreting
  • Multilingual gaming groups and translation/interpreting
  • Translation and accessibility in relation to analog games
  • The translation of gaming culture

References:

Bernal-Merino, Miguel (2015) Translation and Localisation in Videogames: Making Entertainment Software Global. Abingdon, Routledge.

Evans, Jonathan (2013) ‘Translating board games: multimodality and play’, Journal of Specialised Translation, 20, 15-32.

Mangiron, Carmen, Pilar Orero and Minako O’Hagan (eds) (2014) Fun for all: Translation and Accessibility Practices in Video Games. Bern, Lang.

O’Hagan, Minako, and Carmen Mangiron (2013) Game Localization: Translating for the Global Digital Entertainment Industry. Amsterdam, Benjamins.