Gender in Game Localization: The Case of Mass Effect 3’s FemShep.

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... In fact, the referent of "it" is a semantically masculine object, but the Lithuanian translation "induces the player to search for female gender objects and after fruitless efforts to identify them, the player is forced to move on trying to identify an object of masculine gender" (Šiaučiūnė and Liubinienė 2011: 51). In her corpus-driven study on gender representation in game localization, Pettini (2018) and Spanish, to finally show that the number and the importance of women in war video games "is inversely proportional to the degree of verisimilitude of game content" (Pettini 2020: 453). "Indeed, the more the game is realistic, the more A79 limited is the number of females, the more passive and socioculturally stereotyped are their narrative roles" (ibid.). ...
... In line with the typical textual features of role-playing games highlighted by Christou et al. (2011) and Pettini (2018Pettini ( , 2020 BioWare's commitment to high quality translation also means providing localization professionals with the so-called "character bible" (Christou et al. 2011: 42), which concerns all "the virtual characters experienced in-game" in terms of "pertinent background information such as name, gender, species, age, character archetype, importance (major/minor character), speech patterns, accent, demeanor, etc.". This tool represents essential reference text for all professionals involved, translators and voice-over actors in particular, who can access this contextual information in an informative and smooth manner thanks to the Excel spreadsheet which contains it (ibid.). ...
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Gender issues in the media and, particularly, in video games have been extensively investigated over the past decades (see Ross 2020). Conversely, the linguistic and cultural dimension of gender is still understudied and, due to the challenges it may pose in translation, especially when the transfer is from the mainly semantic gender system of English into the grammatical gender system of Romance languages, systematic research is paramount. This paper examines a fantasy war-themed role-playing game titled Dragon Age: Inquisition (Electronic Arts 2014), which presents a gender-customizable playable character, and which was purposefully selected in order to extend the realism-fictionality spectrum of war video games developed by Pettini (2020). This study investigates the representation of female characters in the game and analyzes the translation of gender from English into Italian and Spanish from the perspective of Game Localization (O’Hagan and Mangiron 2013; Bernal-Merino 2015). Parallel excerpts from in-game dialogues are compared in order to (1) explain how gender as a variable affects game translation, (2) show whether and how female characters are represented through language in the original game and through translation in the two localizations, and (3) make a quantitative and qualitative comparison between the Italian and Spanish translational approach. As findings show, this research analysis confirms clear linguacultural-specific tendencies (Pettini 2020) which, as concerns Italian, disclose a sociocultural resistance to the symmetrical use of the language of gender.
... Given the gender-customizable nature of The Sims 4, which allows players to choose their avatar's gender, and given the types of word classes used to name traits, mainly adjectives and nouns, the transfer from English into Italian, that is to say translating from a language with a mainly semantic gender system into a Romance language with both a semantic and a grammatical gender system, requires translators to use the so-called "variables" (see Bernal-Merino 2015, 147-152, Díaz-Montón 2007, Heimburg 2006, O'Hagan and Mangiron 2013Pettini 2018). Variables belong to programming metalanguage and include a "set of codes and characters that mark gender-variable strings with tags, generally 'M' for male and 'F' for female in brackets, serving as computing instructions that allow the game engine to display gender-specific strings correctly" (Pettini 2020, 446), that is according to the gender selected by the player for his/her avatar. ...
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From the perspective of Game Localization (Bernal-Merino 2015, O’Hagan and Mangiron 2013), this paper presents a descriptive corpus-assisted study on the language of personality in The Sims 4 (Electronic Arts 2014), as the psychological dimension of this real-life simulation game represents its distinctive feature (Franklin 2014, Electronic Arts 2014a). The elaborate nature of The Sims 4 personality trait system has received academic attention, since its mechanics seem to be based on trait theory (Sloan 2015, 209), “a major approach to the study [and assessment] of human personality” in psychology (Villanueva 2010, vii). Accordingly, this paper analyzes how psychological simulation is worded in game texts and examines the features of The Sims 4 cross-linguistic personality lexicon. The original English trait system is thus compared with the Italian translation in order to explore the linguistic challenges and issues psychological customization poses to localization professionals.
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