5 Ways that Email is Killing your Game Localization Workflow

Email is great for one-on-one communication, but when you’re coordinating multiple stakeholders, it can be a nightmare. And game localization tends to involve many stakeholders, ranging from the project managers to the translators and on to the video game developers themselves.

As anyone who has ever been through the process can tell you, video game localization is as much about organization and coordination as it is about translation and language. Centralized communication can be a game-changer in this context: it increases productivity, reduces redundancy, and helps everyone get their work done more effectively.

Read on to see why.

Email problem number 1: Information gets lost

Possibly the most annoying problem with emails is our tendency to CC everyone, just to be safe. That inevitably leads to some people NOT reading their emails—because there are so many irrelevant and semi-relevant messages cluttering up their inbox.

It’s easy for someone to skip over the one message in the conversation that was actually important for them to read. And that can, of course, lead to potential chaos. Even if everyone is reading their messages, it’s easy for details to get lost in strings of replies and back-and-forth discussions.

Email problem number 2: It’s harder to integrate external stakeholders

If stakeholders from different companies are involved in the project, you might not want to share their emails with everyone on your team. Or, if you work with multiple freelance translators, you might need to keep their emails private to comply with the GDPR privacy regulations.No matter the reason, these types of considerations can make it hard to communicate.

If you need to keep someone’s email private, that person is essentially excluded from the email loop. You can forward emails to them, send them reports, and so on, but that is inefficient and creates extra work. They can’t participate in the conversation, either, which means that their contact person will have to answer all their questions separately. If we’re talking about several freelance translators, that can create an enormous and unnecessary workload.

Email problem number 3: Sending localization files via email is an organizational nightmare

If you’re sending game localization files back and forth by email, you’re asking for trouble. It’s essential that the localization managers start work on the correct file version, and if they are receiving the file by email, there’s no way to confirm that their version is correct.

If someone sends out a last-minute email saying “Please disregard the file from 5 minutes ago, this is the correct file,” it’s all too easy for that message to go unnoticed until work has already begun.

What’s more, sending games localization files by email creates unnecessary, redundant work:

  • The sender has to find the most recent version
  • Attach it to the email
  • Write a message (making sure they sound polite and friendly!)
  • Hit send

Then, when the game’s files have been localized, the same person has to receive an email with the finished files, open it, read the message, and download the files to their final home.

There is always a risk of human error, and email doesn’t offer the chance to double-check the file version. If someone receives a new file but forgets to download it to the repository, there is no way to tell… until there’s a problem.

Email problem number 4: It’s slowing down the queries process

The translation team working on your game localization project probably has some questions for you.

Translators need a surprising amount of detail to do their jobs well, and they should be encouraged to ask as many questions as they need to. But, oftentimes, the queries process is inefficient and redundant. Typically, the translator will collect their queries in a spreadsheet over the course of the day, then email the list to the PM each evening. The PM then has to forward the queries to the game development team, wait for their response, and then reply to the translator. It can waste a lot of time.

If the localization project is for a big game, there will be a lot of queries. That can make the Excel doc cumbersome to look through, especially if the game has several episodes or frequent updates.

There’s a good chance that the queries might be unnecessarily repeated, or that the translators might overlook important information that is buried further up in the document.

Email problem number 5: It’s wasting a lot of time

Managing emails is, in and of itself, time-consuming and inefficient.

You spend time searching for messages, searching for files, and sorting and archiving emails you didn’t really need to be CCd on.

If the number of emails in your inbox could be reduced to a minimum, you would have less busywork to deal with each morning and more time for productive work. That’s a bonus for anyone, no matter their role in the game localization workflow.

How to make the game localization workflow more efficient

One of the best ways to make the video game localization process more efficient is centralized communication and file-sharing.

Whether you opt for a project management tool, a communication platform like Slack, or a translation management tool, keeping all your communications in a central place will help everyone work more efficiently and increase productivity. And a centralized file repository—that can be accessed by all relevant stakeholders—will help reduce redundancy and should be part of every game localization workflow.

There’s a lot to be said on this topic, so we’ll be discussing some of the options for centralized communication and file management in more detail in our future articles.

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