USER INTERFACES IN GAME LOCALIZATION: SIX STEPS TO ACHIEVE A FLAWLESS UI EXPERIENCE

Gaming apps are one of the biggest contributors in worldwide mobile market growth. Game developers are struggling to adapt their products to the varying international markets, in attempt to expand businesses and boost revenues. According to Statista analysis, there are 1.48 billion mobile gamers worldwide and half of them are located in the Asia-Pacific region. This data reveals how crucial game localization is for each software company’s efforts to in the globalization of their products. Localization essentially means noticing subtle (and even not subtle) cultural differences and then taking them into account during app development and design. Consumers around the world always prefer playing their favorite games in a localized manner; they demand it being in their native language, with familiar imagery, sounds, with the full-package in a user-friendly interface. Professionally localized UI’s encourage higher user engagement and starkly contribute to consumer’s emotional attachment.

What Is Game Localization?

Localizing a mobile gaming app means translating and adapting your content, leading to a locally-accepted final product. Because every global user is different, different development approaches are usually required, but there are a few routine steps to complete in every case:

  • Planning: the corner stone of game localization. Each part of this process must be thought out beforehand in order to avoid extra engineering work after localization.
  • Extraction of the app interface elements to rebuild them in accordance with specific local preferences.
  • Translation of textual contents, paying attention to local language structure, grammar and even slang.
  • Testing is obligatory throughout all stages of localization, but the final inspections are crucial.

The UI goes through many changes during the localization process, but there are even more procedures that contribute to a successfully localized mobile app interface. Why? Since mobile gaming dominates the app market, the consumers demand perfection.

How to Createa User-Friendly Interface?

Professional designers of mobile gaming apps must pay attention to every last detail in order to create a successful app. The major things they consider during the design process are:

1. Cultural Preferences

In order to design a user-friendly interface, you must know and understand your target audience, local habits, and cultural preferences. Therefore, developers must know if there are any culturally-sensitive topics, symbols, or imageries that could potentially deter local consumers. For instance, laughing is a sign of happiness in the vast majority of countries, but in Japan it is often a sign of confusion and embarrassment. You can check out some of these unusual cultural differences here. Additionally, even paying attention to the selected color pallet is important. You must stay true to your app’s branding while also staying away from using colors that may be offensive or negative in certain cultures.

2. Language Adaption

Few other languages are as practical as English is in terms of space preservation, where words and phrases often take up to 40% less characters than in other languages. However, this is usually not an issue when it comes to Asian languages. Here’s an example: the word PLAY in German is SPIELEN, 玩 in Chinese, and 遊びます in Japanese. This is very important for gaming apps because text expansion can ruin the quality of other user interface elements. Strings tend to expand or decrease during translation, which can cause awkward images. You should always leave some additional space for text localization in order to prevent words from overlapping or intersecting. You can also position strings over controls, or keep them aligned on the right, thus enabling them to grow bigger or smaller.

3. Text Direction

Most of us read and write from left to right, but that doesn’t mean other languages follow suit. BIDI’s or bi-directional languages are commonly used in many parts of the world. For instance, Arabic and Hebrew are written from right to left, while Chinese is written vertically. UI designers must take this into consideration early on in their engineering.

4. Use Local Formats

Countries around the globe differ greatly when it comes to time/date formats, time zones, units and measurements, and even currencies. Developers must keep these formatting differences in mind in order to prevent confusion and unfamiliarity amongst players. As minute as these details may seem,   ignoring them can disorient users and discourage them from using mobile gaming app altogether. The most graceful solution here is to use a standard ISO mode for the date/time storage and then use a library in order to adapt this information for the targeted country.

5. Icons Instead of Words

Visualization is the best way to keep your players informed regarding game features. Visual imagery is comprehended much faster and easier than reading. Developers should add as many icons as possible to their UI, so long as they are meaningful and functional. Because humans can process images so quickly; creating user-friendly icons instead of words can save space and/or speed up game navigation and controls.

6. Scalability

Gamers typically access their apps via different mobile devices and platforms, which can alter the app’s original size and shape. For that reason, developers need to apply scalable elements – buttons, icons, dialogue boxes, menus, etc. This will keep standard proportions and remain attractive to consumers.

Conclusion

As the industry of mobile gaming continues to steadily grow, international developers are working even harder to seize more market share. However, taking your app global demands a thorough and detailed approach to win over more multilingual consumers. This is particularly necessary because most of the app store superpowers are in non-English speaking markets. Game localization takes a lot of time and effort, but the core of this entire process lies the creation of a user-friendly interface. Professionally designed UI’s is what attracts gamers and keeps them loyal. Therefore, developers must consider every element – language, cultural preferences, scalability, and visualization.


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