20th Oct 2021

Staff Spotlight: meet our Language Project Leads in Milan

Video game localization is not just about translating content: it acts as a gate to new, open worlds and immersive episodes for gamers around the world.

At Keywords Studios, our teams are passionate about helping to ensure players everywhere have the most natural and intuitive experiences when playing localized games.

This week we had a chat with our team in Milan to discuss what it takes to work in Localization.

Sara Oldani is Language Project Lead and started her career in Keywords Studios in January 2020, while Francesco Riccobono began in Localization as a translator and linguist support back in 2010. He then formally joined Keywords in 2016 as Language Project Lead.

Here’s what they had to say!

Describe a typical day in your role.

Sara: My job includes several different tasks which may vary greatly day by day.

I usually analyse the files we receive from clients before we send them to our translators, spotting potential linguistic or technical issues and preparing reference material and instructions that could be useful.

Once we receive the translated material from the translators, I perform some pre-delivery checks to make sure everything’s spotless and ready to be handed back to the client. I also monitor the Q&A process between clients and translators, and perform occasional maintenance on the Termbases and Translation Memories.

Francesco: I’m responsible for the final quality of translated text in any language we manage, checking consistency and coherence with project rules, answering any linguistic question that the translation teams may raise and ensuring that French translation does not overwrite Japanese one!

Do you have a specific area in your role you enjoy focusing on?

Sara: I enjoy looking for reference material at the very start of a project, rifling around the web to pull out whatever may be considered as useful information for the translators. It gives me a better idea on the game and the project itself as well.

Francesco: Linguistic challenges are the most fun: we often have to consider random combination of strings (called compound strings), and translate in order to make them result with a proper grammar in target languages.

As different languages follow different rules, this becomes very hard, especially when you have to plan and follow different approaches. It’s like solving riddles, with the unknown certainty that it may work with endless possibilities.

How did you get into video games Localization? What inspired your career path?

Sara: I’ve been a gamer since I was a child but I only considered working in this industry after getting my Master’s degree in foreign languages and cultures. I started working as a video game translator and, after a while, became part of the Keywords family.

Francesco: I’ve always been a video games fan, both in terms of simple entertainment and later as a working field.

My “career” started when I decided to translate an unofficial user-generated content (technically speaking, a mod) for Baldur’s Gate II. That cathartic moment set everything in motion.

Keywords Studios Localization staff members, Sara Oldani and Francesco Riccobono
Sara Oldani & Francesco Riccobono

What do you like best about working for Keywords Studios?

Sara: I particularly appreciate the big “family” vibe I get when talking to my colleagues every day. It’s lovely and it motivates me to do my best.

And, of course, being a gamer myself, I also love being part of the video games industry.

Francesco: The multi-cultural and international vibe you can feel. The chance to work closely with other studios all around the world, knowing each other, and making new friends from other countries is a self-powered system that can enhance your day.

Hopefully, when the pandemic will be over, also the chance to meet them in person again.

What is your favourite video game and why?

Sara: If we’re talking about retro gaming, I am a big PSOne fan. I grew up playing Spyro and Crash Bandicoot and they’re still among my favourite sagas.

Today I play mostly indie games on PC. I particularly enjoy relaxing and travelling to colourful fantasy worlds through them.

Among my favourite titles are Spiritfarer, Gris, Ori and the Blind Forest, Cuphead and Hollow Knight.

Francesco: Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, hands down. It is simply a magnificent RPG, with a brilliant story with no clear good/bad dichotomy, charismatic non-player characters with their needs and personalities, and a great hand-drawn graphics.

It’s definitely one of the best game I’ve ever played and, ironically, the turning point with my job and friends. On the other side, many people hate me for my StarCraft and Age Of Empires skills but that’s another story!

Tell us an interesting fact that people may not know about you.

Sara: I’m a voice donor – I record audio books for blind and sight-impaired people in my free time.

Francesco: I’m a sport passionate but also a deep food lover. When I worked as an entertainer in Spain, we had this great eight-hour volleyball tournament which always ended by jumping from a 15-metre-high cliff. Nothing better than a jump in the sea to feel better.

And, finally, what advice would you give to job seekers considering a career in Localization for video games?

Sara: Do not give up, tough as it may be. Competition is strong and you may feel discouraged at times.

Focus on your skills, both technical and soft ones, which can be always be acquired and honed. Eventually, your determination will help you come through!

Francesco: Express your passion and never give up. Whichever field you are attracted to in the video game, we are all connected by the same, pulsing devotion of our favourite amusement.

If you are interested in a Localization role at Keywords Studios, you can find current open positions on our Careers page.

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