We want to update the credits, but games workers deserve better

After it was pointed out in the credits for Pentiment, the latest RPG from Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian, that no tracking staff appeared to be credited within the game itself, director Josh Sawyer said a proper attribution would be forthcoming. Unfortunately, however, this is just another example of how the games industry as a whole, not just outsourced developers, is failing to empower those who need it most.

It all started when game designer Hayden Scott-Baron pointed out how Pentiment makes no mention of localizers, the developers who handle translating a game’s text, themes, elements, and cultural and legal differences to fit another language . It is hard, important work and credit goes to the local and translation teams.

“We have not forgotten them” Pentiment Director Josh Sawyer he replied, “but I thank you for noticing that it is not there. We requested lists of translator names for all languages ​​through our partners and did not receive these lists prior to release. We’ve asked again and will fix them once we have them.”

Following Sawyer’s response, we’ve reached out to Obsidian for a full response and will update this article if we receive one.

The related thread is filled with frustrated video game localizers and translators grateful for Josh’s response – which “almost never happens” according to one – but also sharing anecdotes that reveal a recurring problem in this area of ​​game development.

To further understand how the lack of proper accreditation can affect individual developers in the long run, we spoke with native Spanish speaker and English to Spanish video game translator Tamara Morales. Morales didn’t work at Pentiment, but his problems aren’t unique or new.

“If you’re not credited, you have no portfolio and no way to show what games you’ve translated or fixed,” says Morales. “It’s like you have no proof that you worked on the game… Unfortunately, developers and companies only seem to react to bad press.”

These companies often work with developers like Obsidian, who require outside expertise to make sure the translation and localization is done to a high standard. But they can also have some weird and restrictive policies for their employees.

“There are some agencies whose policy is not to credit us,” Morales claims. “And there are times when only the agency [itself] is accredited: Tunic, Artful Escape, Stray, The Gunk.”

Some translators and interpreters are named in these credits above, as if they work for a first-party developer, but anyone who works for the companies that localized these games does not have their names in the credits.

It’s not always a case of a particular studio deciding not to credit individual localizers on purpose. Perhaps it is due to an agency contract, or in the case of Pentiment, what appears to be very poor timing and a lack of urgency from the partners.

If Sawyer’s tweets about “partners” are anything to go by, he says many partners didn’t send his studio their lists of localizers who worked on Pentiment in time for release. It goes without saying that this must be common practice. You want to see your name on a game, movie, or TV show the day it’s released, not after the fact.

“It’s pressure from both sides now (translators/technicians),” Morales tells us. “But the same thing happened to me [another Obsidian release], grounded. I don’t know if they used the same agency, but no credit.”

Grounded – which recently released its full release after spending some time in Early Access – highlights a further issue with not providing proper accreditation to localizers: the exclusion of employees from MobyGames.

A dedicated video game database site, MobyGames has full credit lists for thousands of titles, making it an easy way for the industry to check who worked on specific games and the lifespan of specific developers. As you can imagine, this is a lot easier than having to go through YouTube credits every time you want to check who worked on what.

The problem is that it seems that MobyGames doesn’t always update their titles when a game’s titles themselves are updated, as happened with Grounded and possibly Pentiment.

“Unfortunately, excluding amounts is the same as forgetting” Scott-Baron responds to Sawyer on Twitter. “The credit correction excludes employees from MobyGames. For example, no translators are listed here for Grounded.”

So while adding localizers and translators after the fact is better than ever, it’s usually too little, too late. Instead, both developers and companies need to work together to have a full roll of credits on launch day, not only to raise their employees appropriately for their efforts, but to make sure that hard work and talent are recognized more easily, which helps improve games in the long run.

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