Game Mechanics : Advanced Game Design

This great book was written by Ernest Adams and Joris Dornans. Softbank Creative, Inc that is a publisher in Japan took the right of translating and offered me to translate it. I’m proud that I’m working on the great book. This is my third translation. The first translation (that is not exactly translation) is “Game Engine Architecture”. I was one of technical supervisors on the Japanese edition, not a translator. The second translation is “Game Development with Unity”. I translated this book for in-house seminar that traditional developers learn how to use good game engine for prototyping. And then, I and my coworkers polished the translation and added a lot of slide of the seminar into appendix DVD-ROM, ask the publisher to publish it. The publisher agreed it and took the right of translation. Finally, the third translation is “Game Mechanics : Advanced Game Design”.

My last business trip to Cologne was good chance to meet the authors who have a session in GDC Europe 2012. After their session, I talked with Mr. Ernest Adams. My English was poor, but he had open mind and gentle. He talked with me very slowly. He welcomed that I and coworkers will send a lot of question to him.

As you know, I am not a professional translator. I and my coworkers have the knowledge of computer science and game development, but don’t have English skill well. In the second book, we needed to correct translation many times. Especially, it was hard to check correctly of translation. Translators aren’t allowed to modify contents of an original book on translating. In addition, I’d not like to do that. Finally, we corrected the translation, but didn’t have time enough to polish it (= make it naturally) for Japanese.

In this translation, I would like to make it efficiently. If a draft of translation is good, coworkers can use much time to polish it. The key is how translate pronoun well, I guess.

I think pronounit and them — is the hardest to translate from English into Japanese. Of course, Japanese language has pronoun, but we don’t use it as often as English. Japanese language (Especially writing language) is not good at keeping a topic. We can use pronoun just after the word/sentence that the pronoun corresponds. If translators converted English pronoun to Japanese pronoun, Japanese readers can not understand sentence/context clearly. Some translators do that and produce bad translation. And the readers think “Translators escaped from correct translation. They didn’t understand what the meaning of this sentence is “.

It’s said that Japanese speaking language is obscure. But, Japanese writing language could be strict.

I’m asking to the author “What is this it?” when I can’t understand the corresponding of the pronoun.

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10 Responses to Game Mechanics : Advanced Game Design

  1. Graeme says:

    I always thought it was so interesting how people can communicate with such different language structures. When you are native in English is it is very hard to understand how to use は and が. We don’t have those concepts, but instead use pronouns. But not all pronouns match directly to those Japanese particles.

    I don’t think I would do a very good job if I tried to explain how all the rules of pronouns worked. But if you have any specific sentences you aren’t sure about, you can ask. I think any native speaker can figure out what the pronoun is referencing.

    • minahito says:

      I feel the same. Each language owns a unique concept. Sometimes I imagine that Japanese using Japanese language can not think the same as what American using English think. (I use American people as native English people for example here)

      For example, English language has complex “tense”. But, the tense in Japanese language is very simple and sometime unclear. This means that American people pay attention to time, I guess. I think Japanese people aren’t delicate for “tense”. Countable/uncountable noun is also the concept that we don’t have.

      On the other hand, Japanese language has the concept of respectful, modest, and polite language (Korean has more). This means that Japanese people pay attention to the matter that American people don’t pay attention to.

      It’s fun that I think about a such gap.

      Graeme :

      But if you have any specific sentences you aren’t sure about, you can ask. I think any native speaker can figure out what the pronoun is referencing.

      Really? I don’t need to send a lot of e-mail to the author? I can ask my coworker who is native in English. His seat is next of my seat!

      • Graeme says:

        I think asking your coworker is a good idea. If his Japanese is pretty good he can probably give you a clear answer in Japanese, too. At least you have someone to discuss the question with right away, rather than waiting for emails from a European timezone. 🙂

        Yeah, the polite forms in Japanese are another difficult area. In English there are words and phrases that are considered respectful, but it’s not structured or frequent like it is in Japanese. Plus, many Americans, like your boss, for instance, don’t want you to speak so formally to them because they don’t like to create distance between themselves and others. I think this American style has been the standard for many years now, and respectful English is used much less.

  2. AlexMcAin says:

    About:
    “I feel the same. Each language owns a unique concept. Sometimes I imagine that Japanese using Japanese language can not think the same as what American using English think”. That’s makes the things very interesting!!!.

    and:
    “Really? I don’t need to send a lot of e-mail to the author? I can ask my coworker who is native in English”, YES ask him he will know that for sure. But after studying a bit (1%)of Japanese you will find that it’s not so different from English pronoun.

    I just want to add other stuff I speak Spanish language too and sometimes I admit that Japanese particles match better than English ones(Minahito no hon/ Minahito’s book/ Libro de Minahito) It’s a very simple example I know.

    • Graeme says:

      I think the problem is that some pronouns like “it”, have very general use cases. Just to give a complicated example:

      “It was just after midnight when it happened.”

      The first use of “it” is a defining use. “It” -> “Something happened just after midnight.”

      The second use of “it”, here, is undefined. You have to read further on before you know what the second “it” means. Sometimes, if you write like this in school, the teacher will tell you that your sentence is too vague. It depends a lot on the overall context, though. Writers might write this way if they are writing a mystery novel or similar.

      Another example, taken randomly from the book Game Engine Architecture:

      “The following example illustrates the creation of a data structure specifying the properties of an animation. It then exports three unique animations to the game.”

      Here, the “it” refers to the previous sentence subject “the following example”. In this case, the word “it” can be directly replaced by the words “the following example”, but in the first example that I gave, you cannot do this.

      I think all European languages form sentences like this, but in Japanese you wouldn’t really say it the same way.

      • minahito says:

        Alex, Graeme, Thank you for your comments.
        Yes, “it” is very hard to translate for Japanese, because it has general use cases as Graeme said. Sometimes, we struggle with “them”. I think “them” is often used as plural pronoun, so I try to find plural thing out from the context but sometimes I don’t find the correct one out.

        BTW, “context” is very difficult to translate! Writers sometimes use “context” in their book as noun. I guess “context” is very important matter in English language and everybody understand it, so they’d like to use it as example to explain that someone is constrained with others or depended with others. They can use it in computer science or game design. On the other hand, Japanese language calls “context” “文脈(Bunmyaku)”, but it is a technical term for writing and doesn’t have the same meaning as “context”. So translators need to use other words to translate “context”. I needed to struggled with translating “context” when I worked on translation. But it’s one of interesting things between Japanese and English.

  3. minahito says:

    I found interesting book. “The Writing Wall Orthography Creativity” http://www.amazon.com/The-Writing-Wall-Orthography-Creativity/dp/0812237110

    This book says Asian people using kanji characters doesn’t have better creativity than other people, because we use mainly part of our brain to remember kanji characters. I don’t hope that’s true, but it’s very interesting that language gives big impact to users.

    • Graeme says:

      I think that’s interesting. I have my own thoughts on the “creativity problem”, and they’re more about culture than language. I won’t try to guess if one culture is more creative than another based on their language alone, but certainly I think the way a culture’s language works affects how they think.

      Even for us programmers, if you write code in C++ it is easy to solve some problems and difficult to solve others. Then if you write code in Python, often the hard problems in C++ are easy to solve, and the easy problems in C++ are hard to solve. That’s because the languages are structured differently. For instance, I don’t think you solve problems better in Java than you do in C++ because the languages are too similar.

      I think English and Japanese are like two different language paradigms, and if you know both you have opened your mind more than if you learned English and German, or Japanese and Korean.

  4. minahito says:

    Graeme :

    Plus, many Americans, like your boss, for instance, don’t want you to speak so formally to them because they don’t like to create distance between themselves and others.

    Nice! When my coworker came from America, my office brought us to the interesting class that taught us how to understand culture gap. In the class, the teacher told that a boss and workers in America are not equal essentially, because the boss can fire the workers. So America people would like to represent equal. And their behavior could be so friendly. That’s not bad. When I talk with American people, I don’t need to have any worries (except I can’t use English well).

  5. AlexMcAin says:

    Hi:

    Well, I don’t think that creativity it’s base on the Language someone speech. I think it’s base on personality and life experience. I had the opportunity to travel to different countries(this year I’m going to Okinawa and then I will spend a few days on Tokyo and hope to meet some game programmers too), and found the coworkers, I prefer use the word “partners”, were so similar and at the same time so different that I notice that it’s hard to catalog someone just for being from a particular country. Of course culture it’s culture and some manners are different but writing code, talking about girls, and other funny =) stuff it’s the same and creativity is one of them. I had a Chinese artist friend that made vehicles out of the game company for fun and he show me a lot of strange design that were totally awesome, than no body that know him, American/Latin guys, can’t deny that.

    Cheers,

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