Defender’s Quest calls for fan translators
I don’t normally post general interest news stories about games like this, but I think this is legitimately interesting. Level Up Labs has created a method to crowd source the localization of its game, Defender’s Quest, setting up a dedicated webpage devoted to that task. I can’t think of any other occasion where I’ve seen a developer do this, and I have mixed feelings about it.
On one hand, it’s awfully clever as a business maneuver, and functionally speaking, it isn’t all that different from offering mod support that users are free to take advantage of. On the other hand, translators are professionals providing a valuable service, and this seems rather narrowly targeted to specifically cut them out of the loop; it reminds me a bit of the Wasteland 2 asset design contest, or Amanda Palmer’s request for people to play instruments for free at her concerts. On the other hand: wouldn’t it be better if gamers of all languages and nationalities from all over the world could play every game without huge cost barriers getting in the way? As a developer myself, I can say that I find the thought of people voluntarily translating my games into dozens of languages awfully appealing.
I contacted Lars Doucet, the main force behind LevelUp Labs, to see what he had to say about it. He wrote:
I just got an email from a professional translator asking me about the ethics of crowd-sourcing translations from amateurs, in light of our recent success. That was an interesting discussion and I’m thinking of turning our exchange into a full article (with his permission).
I used to work as an (amateur) translator myself, and so I’m definitely sensitive to undermining the work of professionals by soliciting amateurs.
As for what would happen if he didn’t use crowd sourced translations, Lars had this to say:
We’re hiring one professional right now (german), which is the largest market. If that turns out well, I can get my business partners to agree to risk some money/time on the next largest markets, French/Spanish, etc. For all the little countries, though, we either open them up to fans or they don’t ever get translated at all.
What do you think, folks? Voice your opinions in the comments below!