Hey, You! The importance of pragmatics in localisations of Mass Effect in French and Spanish



Stainton A, Roberts SG & Rennick S (2023) Hey, You! The importance of pragmatics in localisations of Mass Effect in French and Spanish. Games and Culture.

The localisation of video game dialogue for diverse audiences is challenging because of differences in linguistic features between languages and pragmatic norms between cultures. For example, localisers must decide how to translate the English second person singular pronoun 'you' into languages that have a pragmatic distinction between formal and informal pronouns (e.g. "vous" and "tu" in French). These distinctions are used in social interaction to signal politeness, respect, and social distance, which are important elements that shape player experience in role-playing games. We analyse the dialogue from French and Spanish localisations of Mass Effect and show they have strikingly different strategies for translating pronouns. French mostly uses formal pronouns while Spanish mostly uses informal pronouns. We explain how these differences affect player experience and argue that effective localisation requires a clear strategy for dealing with pragmatics. We conclude by making practical suggestions for how game creators can better support localisation.

localisation; translation; Mass Effect; pragmatics; politeness

Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

Games and Culture

StatusIn Press
Publication date online31/12/2023
Date accepted by journal16/11/2023

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Dr Steph Rennick

Dr Steph Rennick

Lecturer in Digital Media (Interactive), Communications, Media and Culture