Game Development Reference
Avoid Verbal and Written Elements Essential to
Even though words and voiceovers can add impact, warns Fong, “try to remember you're designing for a global
audience.” While some Chinese are bilingual, you're giving up a high proportion of the gaming population if
you make English literacy a pre-requisite for enjoying your game. Therefore, don't put game-critical informa-
tion into screen text or English-language voiceovers.
Instead, it's better to use verbal and written cues to enhance the experience; players should be able to discern
game objectives and information through visual and non-language audio cues. This is an especially important
rule for a game's opening cut scenes. If you bombard Chinese gamers with a lot of English text and voiceovers
early on, warns Fong, “they're going to jump to the next game.”
Design Globally (for Everyone)
Good advice for promoting world peace; pretty good strategy for selling games, too.
Designing globally is the counterpoint to designing locally (which you should avoid). As Fong notes, major hit
games like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and Plants vs. Zombies don't require a lot of social context or cultural
background, nor do they require language skills to play. Hollywood learned this lesson decades ago, crafting
film projects that would be about as appealing to the overseas markets as local U.S. theaters. Now that games
also have a mass market and an international audience, designers need to start thinking about the universal
themes and storylines that translate across cultures and bind us together , not separate us.
Consider Adding Chinese Elements Organic to Localized
When Yodo1 worked with the game studio Robot Entertainment to launch their award winning iOS title Hero
Academy to China, they worked extensively with the developer to co-design and develop a new race of charac-
ters themed around popular Chinese fantasy heroes such as the Shaolin monk, Taoist, and other roles that have