Peanuts for Translators. It is the constant lament of those linguists engaged in the pennies-per-word pursuit that is the translating trade. One thing about translators: They all seem to want more money. That’s true of anyone pushing a pen behind the scenes, I suppose, the lament of ghost-writers who can never get enough credit.
Are you a translator interested in a bigger paycheck? If so, I draw your attention to the case of Jeremy Blaustein, Japanese>English translator. Breaking out of the per-word box requires leverage to get to the next level of entrepreneurship.
Jeremy has parlayed his reputation as a localizer in the Japanese gaming industry to realize his own video game vision. Full circle, since gaming is why he learned Japanese in the first place. Now his latest project also provides a chance to right old localization wrongs.
Blackmore, A Steam Punk Adventure Game, his new game production now live on Kickstarter, is a response to all the translation fails Jeremy has seen in the course of his career. Here’s Jeremy on video game translation: “The one thing I can say with certainty is that so much of the energy and vitality of the original story is lost in the process of translation. It is unavoidable. You lose the multi-dimensionality of the original text. You lose the charm, the depth, the subtlety and the connection between author and audience because it was written for people who share a language and a culture with the author. Simply, it is very difficult to infuse the fun and vitality back into a script after it has been removed from its original language and context.”
So Blackmore is a translator’s attempt to get to the root of the problem of Japanese game localization. By internationalizing Japanese storytelling from the start, Blackmore will establish a creative platform to bridge the gap between creators and gamers on either side of the Pacific. Here’s a peek:
This kind of cultural interplay between Japan and the US has been my stomping grounds for years, and is what got me started in the first place, (Read Shogun one weekend in Albuquerque, saw some guys on campus fencing Kendo-style, and before you knew it I was sitting in the bar car of the Bullet Train slipping past Mt. Fuji, Guinness in hand). That Japonisme synthesis has been the font of so much great art — from Monet to the Magnificent Seven, and all the incredible Japanese work unknown to most English speakers — masterworks infused by the contributions of storytellers and artists from two cultures.
I should disclose that I’ve collaborated with Jeremy for probably 20 years and that I will be investing in this project too. The Blackmore project is a cool cross-cultural project that I’d like to see happen. And not just because I want to get animated and some serious lines (one of the gimmes that comes with a contribution).
Check out the Kickstarter link for more on the translation-centric inspiration of this project.
A translator driven to share his B-language discoveries with all his A-language friends. Sound familiar?
So in honor of cross-cultural creativity fueled by dreaming translators, I’ll close with the title themes of七人の侍, Shichinin no Samurai and one of the best localizations ever, the Magnificent Seven. You will find the melodies familiar, and a suitable soundtrack to accompany any big dreams being made real. いざ! Saddle Up!