3 Ways Games Are Localized for the MENA Region
As we’ve discussed before, localization for the MENA market is more than just a simple translation job. There are plenty of other factors involved when bringing a Western game into the MENA market, some of which can be quite harmful for a game to ignore!. So, when a game gets localized in the MENA market, what kind of changes occur? Here’s the main 3 ways a game is localized for the MENA market.
The first thing that comes to anyone’s mind regarding this topic is translation. While localization is not purely translation, it does include it; after all, very few people will have patience to learn a game they can’t understand!
Unlike the Western market where English is acceptable regardless of regional spellings and uses of specific words, the MENA market is comprised of lots of different languages. Standard Arabic is widely recognized, but runs the risk of coming off as too formal or ‘rigid’ in a game. Meanwhile, a more regional dialect will sound more familiar and relatable, but won’t be understood in some parts of the MENA market.
Translation in localization is more than just converting from one language to another, however; there’s also the case of how people interact with language. For instance, say you want your game to be translated into Arabic. Simply having a translation job done might be acceptable, but there’s one crucial element that many Western developers may overlook; the way Arabic is read.
Unlike English, Arabic is read from right to left, and this has an effect on an Arabic-speaking user as they play your game. While Westerners will look for buttons on the left, Arabic speakers will be looking on the right side. This usually means a rehaul of the UI to make sure it’s not too jarring in the new market.
The MENA market also has stricter rules when it comes to imagery. Content that features alcohol, sex, sexually provocative imagery, and excessive violence may be met with resistance in the MENA market. The game “God of War” wasn’t published within the market due to using the word ‘God’ in the title. Games that rely heavily on these themes may not even be localized for the MENA market and simply deemed unsuitable for the market.
As you can see, it can be very tricky to get everything perfect when localizing a game for the MENA market. This is why publishers can be a very useful tool for a developer. Not only will they know the local scene and what’s acceptable in a game, but they’ll also have prior knowledge, experience, and research on the topic and will know how to localize your game.