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Korean Game Localization: Essential Information to Know Before You Begin

The gaming industry is booming worldwide.  More people are playing games across the globe, with specific regions continuing to accelerate; South Korea is one of those markets. With the fourth-largest gaming industry in the world, South Korea is an obvious option for companies deciding on a market to enter through game localization.

Consider these statistics:

  • More than 71% of South Koreans play video, mobile, and online games.
  • In 2021, South Korea’s gaming market reached a valuation of $15 billion.
  • Gamers in the country spend an average of $75 per mobile game.

Before getting started on the Korean game localization process, take a look at this essential guide to help ensure that it is a success:

Carefully Plan the Game’s User Interface

When developing the user interface of the game, there are some vital points that will affect spacing:

  • Korean words and phrases are written from left to right or from top to bottom. Although vertical writing is regarded as outdated, it can be applicable to games that use older scripts.
  • One Korean character can require as much space as two characters written in English. This can greatly impact the space needed, so planning ahead is especially necessary
  • The Korean alphabet, which is called Hangul, is comprised of 24 vowels and consonants. They are arranged in blocks that include two to six letters, with one vowel and at least one consonant. This can be a problem for translators, especially since an erroneous line break can affect a multisyllabic word.

Think About Word Choices and Sentence Structures

As the game’s content is being translated, there are some grammar rules to consider:

  • The Korean language incorporates several words that are borrowed from other languages, particularly English. Numerous English terms in the sectors of sports, fashion, medicine, and engineering are considered acceptable and are commonly used by Korean people. As such, translators often retain the English words in a translated text.
  • The language also includes Hanja, which are Chinese characters included in the language but have a Korean pronunciation. Professional translators will know how to address these words during the localization process.
  • The order of Korean words differs greatly from the order of English terms. As an example, when writing numbers in a Korean sentence, the larger number would be written before the smaller one. During the game, if a player has to select three out of five options, it would be written in Korean as, “Out of five, select three.” Of course, this is vastly different from the English version of the phrase, which would be stated as, “Select three out of the five.”
  • Korean sentences can be longer than English sentences; this is to make certain that the statements contain all of the necessary information related to the point being made. Therefore, text that might be written in three sentences in English could be one long Korean sentence.

Pay Attention to Honorifics

The language uses seven levels of formality and knowing which one to select can be tricky. Only two of these levels are used in Korean writing, which presents a challenge when a script has to be transposed into audio content. To ensure the correct honorifics level is used, partner with a game localization services provider that has native Korean speakers available to work on the translation.

Consider the Game’s Colors

When localizing a game to Korean, it is critical to address all imagery and graphics in the game to make sure that they are culturally appropriate. This includes paying attention to color choices, especially since certain colors portray specific meanings in the Korean culture. For instance, while white represents temperance and purity, black can signify death, night, and darkness. Additionally, black, purple, and red are associated with quality and luxury.

Localize the Pricing

During localization, make certain that the pricing structure suits the Korean currency of Won. Korean players do not want to have to use foreign currencies, such as Euros or Dollars. In addition, ensure that the prices are understandable by correctly using commas, avoiding decimal points, and using whole numbers. As an example, use ₩1000 instead of ₩1000.00.

Do Not Forget about Socialization

For Korean players, games are not just about entertainment; they are also a source of socialization. As such, companies should find ways to include social aspects in their games. Some ways to add the social component include allowing players to send messages or in-game presents to friends or adding multiplayer options to games. Taking this step is necessary to have a competitive edge, since many of the most popular Korean mobile games allow users to sign in through local social networks.

Avoid Aspects that Depict Cruelty

Although freedom of speech and expression are allowed in Korean games, it is best to avoid components that depict cruelty and violence. In addition, games that portray politically sensitive histories, particularly those related to the Korean War, will be poorly received.

Test the Localization  

To ensure that the localization is a success, test the game before it is launched in the Korean market. A translation company with a strong quality management system will make certain that the game is sufficiently evaluated to correct any errors and inconsistencies long before the game reaches players.

Considering that the video game market value is expected to reach more than $268 billion by 2025, it is clear that localization will continue to be the path forward for gaming companies. With the amount of growth happening in the Korean game market, the region is a strong option to consider for localization. Choose a game localization company that has a strong portfolio in working with gaming companies, as well as one that has native speakers of Korean, to ensure a successful localization.

Summary

The gaming industry is growing exponentially, and the Korean game market is helping to drive that surge. Companies that want to expand their game’s reach should focus on the Korean market as a viable option. Before getting started, take a look at this guide that has essential information for Korean game localization.

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