GameDaily Connect Asia 2019: Finding Success with English Language Adaptation and Localization

No one really wants to be the 'Master of Unlocking.' Find out how to properly adapt your game for English speaking territories with the help of Brightskull's Michael Csurics at GameDaily Connect Asia.

Michael Csurics has been working hard at making English voice and dialogue sound good for a very long time. From Bioshock 2 to The Vanishing of Ethan Carter to Tacoma, he’s been fiercely pushing high-quality writing and delivery for well over a decade. In his own words, he’s “a well-known crusader for pushing the bar in dialogue and voice performance,” and through his company, The Brightskull Entertainment Group (Brightskull), he has worked to help many developers with writing, music, audio, and voice acting for over 15 years.

He’s definitely the sort of person you’d want as a champion of your English localization and adaptation. And he’d be happy to tell you why, and how you can do well with your own efforts in adapting your stories to Western markets with his talk at GameDaily Connect Asia in Shenzen, November 10-12.

Csurics has been deeply involved in presenting story and dialogue in the best possible way for a long time, and started his own company to ensure things were getting done right. “Before founding my company, I was an in-house dialogue lead for a AAA studio (2K Marin). I started Brightskull because, after working with many of the world's leading vendors, I felt like there was a better, more collaborative approach to making VO,” he says.

Michael Csurics
Michael Csurics

In opening Brightskull, Csurics soon saw opportunities in other markets where he could use his talents to help developers tell their stories well. “After establishing Brightskull within the markets I was used to, I wanted to grow our company into a more globally focused storytelling solution.”

This would lead Csurics to branch out into storytelling in markets across the world. In doing so, he’d soon see the effects of hearing the stories of other cultures and places, which would bring new things to his own craft. 

“In order to lead us in that direction, I had to become an expert in creative adaptation and gain a fuller understanding of global audience expectations,” he notes. “By doing so, and being open to the creative lessons of other regions and cultures, it has been, and continues to be, a fantastic, enriching journey that has helped me be even more effective as a director and storyteller.”

Csurics, through this work, has seen the exciting, unique stories that are coming from other territories, and has made him want to steer Brightskull towards helping those developers bring their tales to the West. 

“My lens is always focused on the stories we tell. Western audiences and productions alike are very eager for stories that are fresh and new to them. This is a resource that China has in great supply and is, in my opinion, one of the biggest opportunities for the Chinese entertainment industry to capitalize on,” he says.

“However, excluding a very narrow genre of action films, so far, very few efforts have been successful in the Western markets. This slow growth in penetration is, in my opinion, due in part to localization efforts that had been less than adequate for Western audience expectations.”

You may remember “All your base are belong to us.” and other examples of poor or clumsy localizations. They stick in the mind in a bad way, often hamstringing what was a delicate, poignant, or evocative story and reducing it to a joke. Csurics and Brightskull don’t want to see that happen to anyone, and through their work, they intend to help developers put their best foot forward, capturing the magic and imagination of their stories with their careful adaptations.

Csurics is feeling very hopeful for these new partnerships. “I feel like times are changing, though. We see it everyday with our partners. The commitment to more collaborative partnerships in developing adaptation strategies is helping Chinese stories be heard and understood around the world. As someone who thoroughly enjoys hearing the stories of cultures beyond my own, I hope to see more!”

Csurics is looking forward to sharing his experiences in localization and adaptation, hoping to provide illuminating information about strategies and techniques for working with English language partners so that developers can rest assured that their stories are being told properly.

“During my talk I am going to share some of what I feel are the most important lessons I've learned while working with non-English partners who want to successfully localize and adapt their games for Western audiences. I am hoping that by opening up and sharing some of these key points that members of the audience will be able to gain a fuller understanding of the needs that companies like mine have. It is my hope that, together, we can help establish best practices for successful and more efficient localization efforts,” says Csurics.

Any developer who’s afraid of losing the beauty and power of their story, or that their hard work may become a silly joke, would do well to take in Csurics’ advice, and to make time for his talk.

Interested in attending GameDaily Connect Asia 2019? You can register right here, and don’t wait too long, as discounts on tickets are available only up until October 11.

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Joel Couture is a freelance writer for Gamasutra, CGM, Siliconera, and Warp Door, and constantly writes about indie games at IndieGamesPlus. He has written books on UnderTale, P.T., and Friday the 13th, and can be found endlessly rambling about games on Twitter at @Joel_Couture.

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