Translation and Accessibility in Serious Games

A few weeks ago in Barcelona (Spain), the Transmedia Catalonia Research Group hosted the 3rd edition of Fun for All: International Conference on Translation and accessibility in Video Games and Virtual Worlds and Educational Design. GaLA was represented in the educational games and tools panel, with the presentation of the paper: Multilanguage adaptability in Game Based Learning for teachers: MetaVals Serious Game interface; a study focused on how the design of a panel for teachers could help them to easily implement a Serious Game in class, and guide students through a game that has been graphycally and linguistically adapted to them.

As highlighted in the opening session, this conference aims to become a place for academic, professionals and students who are involved in the game industry. The main aims of Fun for All are to foster the interdisciplinary debate of game adaptability and accessibility, and to consolidate them as academic areas of research, contributing to the development of best practices in the field. In accordance to these objectives, the conference addressed the following key issues:

  • Discuss on the emerging fields of game localization and accessibility, as well as accessibility to virtual worlds, taking into account the role that translation plays in these contexts.
  • Share the current State of The Art of games being used for “serious” purposes beyond entertainment, such as education.
  • Discuss how developers and publishers can reach a wide audience in order to maximise their return on investment.
  • Focus on the advances on game translation and games that can be played for a wide spectrum of players, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

The topics addressed were, broadly speaking, game localisation, development and use of specialised pedagogical tools, cultural adaptation in games, creativity and humour in games, app games, game localisation, accessibility and audio design. The participants who presented advances in the field of translation and adaptability pointed at the need to create special tags in order to avoid or minimize gender issues when translating from English to Spanish, for example. They also highlighted the need to be aware of the existing cultural differences as a key aspect for internationalization of games; making games linguiscally and culturally appropriate to the target locale. Game designers should therefore be creative when facing technical issues but, most important, they must respect the culture and the language when translating.

Concerning the Serious Games panel, both presenters and audience discussed how games could be designed inclusively, to facilitate access by all types of players. Particular studies focused on the implementation of SGs as complementary tools for cognitive evaluation, such as cognitive impairments or as a context to rehabilitate patients with acquired brain injuries.

The main outcomes of the conference were in the direction reaching a broadest audience for games. However, the organizers admit that there is still a need of more interdisciplinary teams and alliances that could bring together academics from different disciplines with various research backgrounds and methodologies, including translation studies, media studies, pedagogy, psychology, linguistics, usability, engineering and ICT experts in order to promote further advances in this field.

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