從文化差異的角度談遊戲設計師學習外語的必要性

原作者:Andrii Goncharuk 譯者:Willow Wu

(本文作者是波蘭華沙CI Games的資深遊戲設計師)

我曾經思考過一個問題:應不應該學習一門外語?作爲一個遊戲設計師,學習外語有什麼實際的好處?

電子遊戲行業的文化差異

現如今,文化差異已經成爲了某些遊戲更改內容或敘述方式的原因之一,跟國際版有所區別爲的是更好地本地化,有些遊戲甚至只在部分地區發行。

當下最典型的例子就是美國(或者說是西方)遊戲和日本(或者說是亞洲)遊戲之間的差異。

任天堂歷史悠久的審查制度

在電子遊戲行業的早期發展階段,也就是1980-1990時代,整個市場是由任天堂這個日式遊戲開發公司主導的,在任天堂主機平臺上發行的遊戲很多都需要審查,還要進行文化“加工”,就正如Aleks Krotoski在《衛報》中所舉的例子:

1.給Castlevania中的裸體雕像加上衣服

2.刪除Maniac Mansion中恣意、無端的暴力行爲

3.將Punch Out!中的角色名字“Vodka Drunkenski”改成“Soda Popinski”

4.移除遊戲內醫院、公墓、和教堂中多餘的十字架

這還只是其中一小部分例子,但是從中你就能看到爲了適應某種特文化環境,製作團隊要對遊戲做出哪些改變,要考慮到當地玩家的可以接受遊戲中的哪些內容,對哪些內容有所忌諱。

integrate language learning(from gamasutra.com)

integrate language learning(from gamasutra.com)

很多人可能會想說這是很久以前的例子了,但是就算在今天,類似的例子也有很多。就拿最近的事來說,《德軍總部(Wolfenstein)》系列的新作要在德國發行,我們就要對遊戲內容做出調整,因爲德國對包含納粹元素的遊戲有十分嚴格的規定。

現如今,文化依然對遊戲有着非常大的影響,這種改變並不一定都在於審查制度,有時候更多是風格化以適應市場需求,讓產品在某些特定地區也能被用戶所接受。

很多研究表明不同國家、不同文化環境下的玩家,他們的偏好會有很大的差異,這就是爲什麼我們這麼在乎這個問題,下面我們來就來深入說一說。

玩家的偏好

世界各處都有人在玩遊戲,可以說在特定區域中,某些特定遊戲、題材、類型的熱門程度跟當地的文化是有很大的關係。這就暗示着不同文化環境的玩家對遊戲有不同的偏好。

爲了讓大家更容易理解,我們挑選了兩個比較極端的案例,美國和日本。(我建議你們多看看Anita Ching Yi Ngai寫的這篇文章《文化影響電子遊戲:玩家對於敘事和玩法的偏好(Cultural influences on video games: players preferences in narrative and gameplay)》,寫的非常好,你們可以瞭解到更多細節。)

這是Anita在文中講到的關於日本和美國的情況:

“日本的歷史沉澱、體制基礎和文化底蘊都非常獨特。他們的文化強調的是要遵循古人遺留下來的傳統,保持忠誠並且繼續穩固下去,對於新事物要有靈活多變的創新能力,能夠引領潮流。可以藉助年輕羣體來發展消費產品和服務,因爲他們就是創意的源泉。日本人很擅長革新,他們經常利用世界各地的資源進行二次創新,轉化爲他們的新發明。正是這種探索、識別、理解文化變更的能力讓他們的創新能力持續活躍,引領文化潮流。

日本在動畫以及漫畫領域有着悠久的發展歷史。無論是哪個年齡段的人,他們的日常生活都離不開動畫和漫畫。那些比較嚴肅的主題,比如宗教、種族、戰爭和社會公正,會在動畫或者是系列漫畫中以複雜、長篇幅的劇情展開。

日本的電子遊戲產業很大程度上是受益於這種強大的角色創作、平面設計以及劇情創作基礎。遊戲和動漫行業的技術都在發展,並且行業之間互相分享成果,交叉影響在這些行業上有非常顯著的效果。處於消費者市場中,玩家能夠明顯感受到動畫、漫畫、遊戲三者的一體化發展。”

“美國是個非常注重個人主義的國家,自我獨立感非常強。他們尊重並且重視個體的自主權和自決權。美國文化強調的是自立能力、個人目標、抱負以及個人成就。美國的主流娛樂是由流行音樂、電影和電視節目表現出來的。

漫畫和卡通被認爲是孩子的娛樂節目,劇情通常都跟童話相似,對孩子們來說非常安全。美國就是通過這些媒體形式把成功地把兒童流行文化產品推廣到世界各地,而且沒有對其中的任何文化元素進行改動。

但是從另一個角度來看,美國對於外國流行文化產品的接受度並不高。美國流行文化擴張已經在全球娛樂市場主導了很長一段時間。熱門電影、電視節目、或者是美國明星出現在遊戲產品中已經是很常見的現象了,因爲遊戲行業也想從娛樂產業的鉅額利潤中分一杯羹。雖然這些遊戲在市場上已經有了知名度,得到認可,但是還是缺少原創劇情或者是玩法不夠吸引人。

美國的遊戲行業也有一體化發展現象——遊戲公司把PC遊戲的設計移植到主機平臺上,考慮到PC的普遍程度,玩家會比較熟悉電腦平臺的遊戲風格和玩法。

從上圖不同類型的遊戲銷量情況可以看出美國、日本、中國的玩家對遊戲的偏好有很大差異。角色扮演遊戲目前在日本具有壓倒性的優勢,然而在美國比較吃香的是運動類和動作類遊戲。遊戲類型的劃分是根據遊戲中的互動形式來決定的,遊戲類型體現了互動方式以及劇情敘述對玩家的重要程度。

角色扮演遊戲的劇情通常都是結構嚴密的,玩家必須要按照邏輯順序逐漸深入遊戲,按照遊戲設計師的計劃觸發一系列事件。因此,類似收集物品、打敵人賺經驗升級這種流程的互動形式就非常有限。

動作遊戲,比如說第一人稱射擊遊戲,會運用敘事技巧爲玩法補充劇情背景。其它的動作遊戲,比如說運動類遊戲,就根本不需要敘事框架。動作遊戲中的互動就比較靈活了,玩家可以根據自己意願進行探索、操縱,享受個性化的遊戲體驗。

這些差別之所以會存在就是因爲遊戲有各種各樣的參數,這些參數包括當地文化、不同的語言,後者是我們的接下去討論的重點。

文化差異與語言

對於遊戲行業還來說,文化差異不僅僅是應用於玩家對遊戲的偏好,有時候還影響了遊戲本身的創作方向,因爲不同文化空間的開發者們會下意識地把他們的價值觀和文化嵌入到遊戲中,由此就產生了遊戲設計之間的差異。

如果你想了解更多關於不同地區的思維差異,你可以多看看 Richard E. Nisbett的作品。

Nisbett在他的文化差異研究中闡述了一個觀點——西方人的思維方式傾向於直線型,而亞洲人傾向於環形。西方人傾向於認爲穩定的環境預示着未來趨勢,事情將會按照現在的步調繼續發展下去;但對於亞洲人來說,穩定的環境表明了潛在的變化,看似穩定的形態是因爲有些變量又回到了早先建立的狀態。

Nisbett的研究中還有一個挺重要結論:如果你給雙方一張圖,亞洲人會把這一張圖當作是一個整體,觀察各個事物之間的關係,因爲他們想給出一份完整的解讀。但是大部分西方人會直接聚焦在畫面中比較明顯的細節上。

文化差異在解讀物品和意義上有非常關鍵的影響作用,這也是爲什麼人們在遊戲消費和創作上會有不同文化偏好。語言的作用是不可忽視的,它對我們日常生活的影響遠遠超出你的想象,下面我們就來講講。

語言和我們的日常生活

語言是如何影響我們的日常生活?有種說法叫作“語言決定論(遊戲邦注:linguistic determinism)”。也就是說,語言結構限定了人所學的知識、想法以及思維過程,比如分類、記憶、理解。語言決定論暗示了不同母語的人他們的思維過程也是不同的。儘管這個理論在以前十分受推崇,但是在如今,主流語言學家們都對它產生了質疑。語言決定論是語言相對主義(也就是著名的薩丕爾-沃爾夫假說)的加強版本,它主張的是個體的母語結構會影響到他們的生活經歷。

簡而言之就是你說話的方式(不管是大聲說出來的還是腦海中的默唸)會影響你的決定還有你對世界的看法,如果你已經看了我之前發的那篇關於人的大腦和記憶是如何工作的文章:《關於情感的生物學基礎(一)(Biological foundation of emotions pt.1)》,那這邊說到的東西應該不難懂,你可以從一個詞聯想到其它很多詞、各種不同的詞義;不同的語言也有不同的近義詞、反義詞,只要把其中一個詞呈現在人眼前,其他的相關的詞語就會從記憶中立刻浮現出來。

舉個例子,日語的“四(し,shi)”也有“死”的意思,如果在對話中出現了類似“2004年4月4日第4街道第4層”這樣的內容,就會感覺到一種緊張的氣氛。

框架與雙語思維

外語不僅能讓我們避免文化和語言陷阱,也是一個優化決策過程的趣味工具,這就叫做雙語思維(用外語來思考問題)。它能夠提升決策的合理性,避免語言框架帶來的影響(比如某種特定的陳述方式會產生誤導,造成錯誤的選擇)。

在社會科學領域,框架是由一系列的概念以及理論觀點組成的,闡述了個體、團體以及社會是如何組織、理解、交流現實的話題、事件。

根據心理科學協會成員Daniel Kahneman創作的模型,生活中至少有兩種認知系統:1.快速系統(系統1)依靠的是啓發、直覺和情感,相比之下,慢速系統(系統2)會更加理性、有條理,依靠的是自身的努力。系統1一般會用於比較簡單的任務,系統2更多的是用於比較難的任務。系統1中的直覺本性會讓人更容易受框架的影響,系統2中的條理性和進取心能夠幫助你抵抗框架效應。

系統1通常使用的是母語,而系統2使用的就是外語,因此,用另一種語言思考會更加理性、有條理性。

我們行業中負責敘事和任務設計的工作人員可能會對語言框架十分感興趣,想知道特定的信息表達方式是如何影響玩家的決定,因此,從一個遊戲開發者的角度來看,瞭解語言框架、搞清楚它的緣由、學會避免它是很重要的,也是一種強大的技能。

現在你明白了所謂語言框架就是可以讓我們以不同的方式理解信息,框架效應不僅僅是看得見的實際反饋,還牽涉到句子的形成、模式和節奏背後的語言結構以及邏輯規則,這些會對一個人的思維產生影響,從他/她的創作以及日常生活中反映出來。

你思考所用的語言會影響你的手頭上的創作,比如說設計、藝術、音樂等等。語言結構如果是比較簡潔、直接的,可能會導致你做出來的遊戲、畫面也是如此,因爲創作會反映作者的思維方式以及選擇。就連這篇文章也可以算是表現我思維方式的例子:我將不同領域、不同主題的內容連接起來,儘管這些內容的並沒有直接關聯性,但是這很大程度上是因爲我的母語結構特點:

一詞多義,但是不同定義之間並不存在任何邏輯關聯

有些句子用一個單詞就能表述出完整的意思,還有些句子可以長成一個段落,就像建築一樣層層搭建,同時也能保證句子的完整性,意義不缺失

人們不需要遵循某種規則或者是某種構造方式來創造出一個句子

詞語的順序會對句意有非常大的影響,語境也會使得原來的句子呈現出完全相反的意思

俄語&英語例子

Lera Boroditsky爲Edge雜誌寫了一篇優秀的文章,其中她舉了一個非常有力的例子,表現了語言差異是如何影響人們對信息的接收程度,乃至世界觀、思維方式。

她在文中是這樣解釋的:

“大多數關於語言是否能夠/如何改變思維方式的疑問都始於不同語言種類之間的差異觀察。讓我們舉個假設性的例子。假設你想說:“布什讀了喬姆斯基的新書。”讓我們先把重點放在動詞“讀(read)”上,要用英語說這句話,我們必須要注意動詞的時態。在這句話中,因爲是過去時態,“read”應該發成“red”而不是“reed”。在印尼語中,你不需要(遊戲邦注:實際上應該是不能)改變動詞來強調時態。在俄語裏,你的動詞要修改成既能表示時態又能明確性別的樣式。因此,如果是勞拉·布什讀了那本書,那你的動詞形式就要跟主語是喬治·布什時不一樣。在俄語中,你還需要通過動詞來表現完成體和未完成體。如果喬治只讀了一部分,那你的動詞形式必須和他讀完整本書時的動詞形式有所區別。在土耳其語中,動詞還必須表現出你是怎麼得知這個信息的:你是親眼目睹了這一罕見事件,還是你是從某個地方讀到、聽說的,或者是從布什的話語中推斷出來的,不同獲取方式的動詞形式也要不同。

顯然,不同語言需要說話人表達出的東西也不同,由此可見,不同語種之間的差異非常大!這是不是就意味着說不同語言的人,他們的世界觀也不同?說英語的人、說印尼語的人、說俄語的人還有說土耳其語的人最終都會以不同的方式對待自己的經歷,甚至連記憶也有所區別?就因爲他們的語言不同?在有些學者看來,答案當然是肯定的。只要觀察人們說話的方式,他們就能給出答案。當然,說着不同語言的人他們也在世界不同的地方關注着不同領域的事情,有着自己的見解,這樣他們才能用語言交流起來。”

這裏有個重要的話題就是當我們理解了信息,記住它的時候,我們經常會把語言當作是一個記憶工具,把這些信息保存起來,當我們需要用到這些信息的時候,我們通常只能記這個話題被我們自己“轉譯”後的內容,這個結果要取決於你當初是怎麼收集、記憶信息的,還有你現在是通過什麼想起來的。

再學一門語言,值得嗎?

這些理論都很有趣,但是更重要的問題是這對於遊戲開發者們有什麼價值?首先想到的可能是有利於制定出更加有效的營銷策略或者是遊戲的本地化效果會更好,但是請相信我,多學一門語言的好處還不止這些:

1.更加理性的決策過程

就如前文所示,用非母語思考有利於制定更優秀、更加理性的決策,因爲你調動了大腦的另一區域,而這一區域是更加理性的部分。相比用母語思考,用另一種語言來思考是一種更爲困難的認知任務。

2.提升頭腦風暴技巧,優化創新過程

假設你要進行一場頭腦風暴,你需要對遊戲的下一個關鍵部分做出思維導圖,你利用幾個關鍵詞作爲起點,然後你關聯表中的詞變得越來越多,思維導圖一步步展開。如果你只用母語,關聯的詞彙數量就很有限,如此一來,你會發現自己的結果跟同一母語的人的結果非常相似,這就是因爲一般情況下,人們首先聯想到的就是同義詞和反義詞,這兩種詞彙關係是最直接的。但是如果你會別的語言,你就馬上就可以增加另一種語言的近義詞和反義詞,得出獨樹一幟的想法、概念。

3.接觸到異國文學、電影以及網絡文化

如果你真的對另一門語言非常熟悉,可以閱讀/聽懂對你有用的內容,那麼你的信息渠道就會增加很多。所有未翻譯的相關書本、電影和科學節目,如果你有辦法接觸到這些資源,按照前文所說的加以利用,那麼你的創新、研究工作會更上一層樓!

4.更好地理解外國文化與市場。

不要忘記了,懂另一門語言意味着你可以更好地理解他們的市場以及文化差異,這就能幫助你在特徵選擇的過程中制定正確的決策。根據當地的市場需求選擇正確、適合的遊戲機制以及視覺風格,創造出具有吸引力的產品。這樣受益的不僅僅是營銷團隊。

5.更好的記憶力

上文提到的,我們是否能記住更多文字信息或者是口頭信息,這是跟我們的語言能力有直接聯繫的,如果你會3門或者是更多語言,你就能用3種語言的關聯詞彙描述主題,存入你自己的記憶中。因此,我們要有選擇性的記憶,把重要的相關細節記住就好了。學習新語言也可以訓練你的記憶能力,也這樣是一個加分項。

所以現在該做什麼?

我想你是找不出什麼理由來拒絕學另一門語言,唯一讓人覺得不好的地方可能就是學一門語言你需要花很多時間,但是如果你真的想成爲行業中的佼佼者,這些付出是必須的。

總結:

文化差異在哪個行業都有,遊戲行業也不例外

歷史上遊戲團隊更改內容、玩法以適應不同文化的例子不計其數

不同文化環境下的玩家對遊戲的喜好也不同,其原因不僅僅在於歷史、價值觀,還在於他們的語言。

日本和美國之間的文化差異是遊戲行業中一個非常典型的例子

文化差異和語言是有直接聯繫的

語言對我們的日常生活有非常大的影響

遊戲設計師想提高競爭力、創新能力就得學習更多東西,外語就是其中一項

如果你能讀懂或者是聽懂另一種語言,對你會有非常大的好處

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Instead of intro

Hello my name is Andrii Goncharuk, but you can call me Andy, I’m a senior game designer working in CI Games, Warsaw, and to be honest… I’m a little bit worried right now… I’m not very good with polish language and everyone here(surprise!), speaking it. I thought to myself do I need to learn a foreign language? Is there actual benefits for a game designer to do so?

Cultural differences in video game industry

Cultural differences nowadays is one of the reasons why some games are being altered content or narrative wise compared to world wide versions, sometimes games are not even released in some countries.

One of the strongest examples that exist nowadays is difference between US or western type of games and Japanese or asian type of games.

Nintendo’s age of censorship

At early ages of video game industry in years 1980-1990 when market was dominated by Nintendo a Japanese based game development company there were many examples of censorship and cultural “fixes” to games that were released on their consoles, as Aleks Krotoski writing in his article for The Guardian:

Clothing nude statues in Castlevania

Removal of “blatantly random and gratuitous violence” in Maniac Mansion

Changing a character’s name from “Vodka Drunkenski” to “Soda Popinski” in the game Punch Out!

Removing crosses willy nilly from in-game hospitals, cemeteries and churches

This is only a small shortlist but it’s already shows how games were altered to fit certain cultural limitations of what is considered accepted and what is not.

Many may think that this is something from old times, but today we have many examples, most recent could be an alterations done to a latest game in Wolfenstein series for a German version of the game because they have very strict rules about Nazi symbols.

Culture is affecting games and industry greatly even today, and not all changes are censorship sometimes they are more of stylization to fit marketing needs, to make product more feasible for certain regions.

Many studies shows that players preferences are vary drastically from country to country and from culture to culture this is why it is important and it is what we gonna talk about.

Player’s preferences

Games being played all over the world and popularity of certain games, genres and types can say a lot about culture of any specific region. All this implies that different cultures have different player preferences.

For sake of simplicity we will discuss two extreme examples, US and Japan(for more details I suggest to make yourself familiar with amazing work done by Anita Ching Yi Ngai “Cultural influences on video games: players preferences in narrative and gameplay”.)

Here is what Anita tell us about situation in Japan and USA:

“Japan has a distinctive historical, institutional, and cultural foundation. Its culture emphasizes conformity, loyalty and stability of the old, and the ever-changing creativity and trend-setting of the new. Development of consumer products and services feed off of the youth population which provides a source of creativity. Japan is skillful in regenerating ideas from all over the world to create their own, keeping new ideas new. It is this ability to discover, recognize, and understand changes in the culture that keeps creativity alive and moving popular culture forward.

The Japanese culture has a long history of animation and manga (Japanese comics). They are very much into the daily lives of people from all age groups. Serious issues, such as religion, race, war, and social justice are presented in long complex storylines of animated films and manga series.

Japanese video game industry has benefited from this strong foundation of character production, graphic design, storyline writing. Skills are concurrently developed and effectively shared among these industries, making cross-influences of contents very apparent. In the consumer market, players are well aware of such integration between anime, manga, and videogames.”

“The US is a highly individualistic society, with a strong sense of self independence. They respect and value individual autonomy and self-determination. Its culture emphasizes self achievement, self-reliance, personal goals and ambitions. (Aoyagi, 2000) The American entertainment media mainly consists of pop music, movies, and television programs as major forms of expression.

Comics and cartoons are categorized as children’s entertainment, which often consist of perfectly preserved, overwhelmingly safe fairytale-like storylines. It is through these media that the US has been spreading its popular cultural 14 products to the rest of the world, without any effort of altering its cultural message for the global audience.

On the other hand, the US has been relatively less receptive to foreign popular cultural products. Such an imperialism of American popular culture has long been dominating the global entertainment market. (Shiraishi, 2000; Allison, 2000) It is common to see popular movies, television programs, or American celebrities in video game titles as the industry taps into the revenue stream of the entertainment industry. These games often lack original narrative or compelling game-play, even though they generate market awareness and recognition.

The American video game industry has also been integrating computer game designs into console games, since players are familiarized with the styles and game-plays of computer games through the popularity of PCs”

Sales and popularity by game genre presented above, shows great difference between US Japan and China. Role-playing titles currently overwhelming in Japan, while US is currently more into sports and action games. Game genres are categorized by the type of interactions being offered in a game, it indicates the kind of interactions and the level of narrative being valued by players.

Role-playing games often present highly structured plots with a logical progression in which players must follow, unfolding the series of events as directed by the designers. Thus, interactions are mostly restricted to collection of items, battling with enemies for level-ups.

Action games, such as the first-person shooter games, use narrative to create scenarios for game-play. Other action games, such as sports, do not require any narrative framework at all. Interactions are much more flexible in action games, as players can explore and manipulate game-play to their own experience.

All this differences exist because of many parameters, culture and more important for us here, language is one of them.

Culture differences and language

In our industry all of this cultural differences apply not only for preferences in what games are being played but also what games are being created, because games designed in different cultural spaces usually have big differences between each other, as developers subconsciously convey their values and culture in their products.

More details about different way of thinking in different parts of the world can be found in works of Richard E. Nisbett.

Nissbett makes a statement, in his study on cultural differences, is that Westerners tend to assume linearity but Asians assume circularity. Westerners tend to think that stable set of circumstances signal about trend and that things will continue in same way but for Asian, stable set of circumstances is an indication of the potential change and later some elements return to state that were established already earlier.

One of other important conclusions of Nisbett’s works is that if given an image, someone from Asia will take in the images as a whole and the relationship between things since they tend to give a complete account of a scene while most of Westerners will tend to focus on prominent details of an image.

Difference in culture plays a major role in the way of how meanings and things are interpreted, and this is one of the reasons of different cultural preferences in games consumption and creation. Language plays important role in all of this and directly affect our day to day life more than we think and here is how.

Language and our daily life

One of the main ideas behind language affecting our daily life is linguistic determinism. Idea that language structures limit and determine human knowledge or thought, as well as thought processes such as categorization, memory, and perception. The term implies that people who speak different languages as their mother tongues have different thought processes. Though it played a considerable role historically, linguistic determinism is now discredited among mainstream linguists. Linguistic determinism is the strong form of linguistic relativity (popularly known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis), which argues that individuals experience the world based on the structure of the language they habitually use.

In short they way you speak both aloud and in your head affect your decisions and perception of world, that not hard to follow if you already read my previous articles about how human brain and memory works (Biological foundation of emotions pt.1), each word have an associative connection to many other terms words and meanings and different languages have different set of synonyms and antonyms that immediately appear in memory when person is presented with one of the word from group.

One of the examples can be a word for Four in Japanese language (Shi) also means death that can create some tension during conversation that involve something about 4th floor on 4th street in 4th of april in year 2004…

Framing and bilingual thinking

Foreign language not only allow us to avoid cultural and linguistic traps it’s also provide an interesting tool that can increase quality of our decision making process, so called bilingual thinking(thinking in a foreign language) can increase rationality of your decisions, and avoid language framing effect(when certain presentation of information can mislead into making wrong choice).

In the social sciences, framing comprises as set of concepts and theoretical perspectives on how individuals, groups, and societies, organize, perceive, and communicate about reality and events.

According to a model created by Association for Psychological Science fellow member Daniel Kahneman, there are two at least cognitive systems: a fast system (System 1) that relies on heuristics, intuition, and affective processes, and a slow system (System 2) that is more rational, effortful, and systematic. System 1 is more likely to be utilized when performing tasks that are easy, while System 2 is more likely to be utilized when performing difficult tasks. The intuitive nature of System 1 makes it more easily influenced by the effects of framing, while the effortful and systematic nature of System 2 resists the effects of framing.

And as you understand System 1 is usually use native language and foreign language is operated by System 2 thus making process of thinking in another language more rational and systematic.

But for our industry narrative and quest designers can be very interested in language framing and how information presented in a certain way can affect players decision, so from perspective of game developer being aware of language framing and how to avoid or cause it is important and powerful skill.

Here is a video from Wilbert channel that perfectly illustrates this effect with an example:

As you can now understand language framing is something that make us perceive information in different ways and framing is not the only effect that can be seen, language structure and logical rules behind sentence creation, patterns and tempo also affect way of thinking of a person and in the end reflects in persons creations and daily life.

Language that you use to think in directly affect any creative product(design, art, music) that you work on. Language with simplified and more straight forward structure can result into designs both game and visuals with same features simply because creation reflects authors way of thinking want author this or not. Even this article is a good example of my personal way of thinking in interconnected patterns from different areas of subjects that don’t have linear straight connection between them, but this is mostly because this is how my native language is structured:

Words can have many different meanings that don’t have any logical connection between them

Sentences can be as simple as one word and be fully complete and viable or they can have multiply layers and be as long as one paragraph without loosing integrity or meaning

There is no strict rule that one need to follow or certain pattern of structure of a sentence

Order of words can have significant effect on meaning and completely opposite soley dependent on context

Russian & English example

In well written article of Lera Boroditsky for Edge, she provide a really powerful example that shows how information can be obtained or loss due to language differences and how it affect viewers world perception and way of thinking.

Here what she explains in her article:

“Most questions of whether and how language shapes thought start with the simple observation that languages differ from one another. And a lot! Let’s take a (very) hypothetical example. Suppose you want to say, “Bush read Chomsky’s latest book.” Let’s focus on just the verb, “read.” To say this sentence in English, we have to mark the verb for tense; in this case, we have to pronounce it like “red” and not like “reed.” In Indonesian you need not (in fact, you can’t) alter the verb to mark tense. In Russian you would have to alter the verb to indicate tense and gender. So if it was Laura Bush who did the reading, you’d use a different form of the verb than if it was George. In Russian you’d also have to include in the verb information about completion. If George read only part of the book, you’d use a different form of the verb than if he’d diligently plowed through the whole thing. In Turkish you’d have to include in the verb how you acquired this information: if you had witnessed this unlikely event with your own two eyes, you’d use one verb form, but if you had simply read or heard about it, or inferred it from something Bush said, you’d use a different verb form.

Clearly, languages require different things of their speakers. Does this mean that the speakers think differently about the world? Do English, Indonesian, Russian, and Turkish speakers end up attending to, partitioning, and remembering their experiences differently just because they speak different languages? For some scholars, the answer to these questions has been an obvious yes. Just look at the way people talk, they might say. Certainly, speakers of different languages must attend to and encode strikingly different aspects of the world just so they can use their language properly.”

One of the important subjects here is that when we perceive information and remember it, we often may use language as a medium to “store” this information in our memory, and when we trying to get access to this information we usually can recall only parameters of a subject that we “translated” into our language, this result in a huge difference when you collecting, remembering and trying to recall information.

learning one more language, worth it?

All this is interesting but more important question is how this is important for game developers? First that comes to mind is marketing and cultural alteration for a game that you are working on, but believe me there is many more benefits that additional language give:

1.More rational decision-making process

As was presented above already thinking with different from native language can lead to better and rational decisions because other zones of brain are used, more rational ones since even to think in different language is a hard cognitive task compared to native language.

2.Improved creative process and brainstorming skills

Imagine you have a brainstorm session and you need to came up with a mind map for next feature, you use several keywords as starting point and starting getting words and meanings that you have in your association tables to build your mind map, well if you use only native language you will end up with a really limited range of words that connected between each other, and most of the times your results will be really close to people with same language simply because synonyms and antonyms are first things that usually came to mind due to close relationships between words. But if you have more than one language you can also simply add synonyms and antonyms from different language pretty fast, coming with concepts and ideas that will be unique in their nature.

3.Having access to foreign literature, movie and internet content

If you really familiar with other language and can read and/or listen effectively content in this language that dramatically increase your informational reach. All books, movies, science shows and programs, all that content that stays untranslated you have access to it and combined with previous statement that will make your creative process and research even stronger!

4.Better understanding of foreign culture and market

You also should not forget that simply being able to understand different language also give access to better understanding market and cultural differences, this will give ability to make correct decisions during feature selection process. Choose correct and appropriate game mechanics and visual style to fit market needs and create compelling product. This can be beneficial not only for marketing team…

5.Better memory

As was stated above, being able to remember more written or verbal information is directly correlate with our language capabilities, if you have access to 3 or more languages you may endup describing subject for yourself to store in memory using words from all 3 languages thus saving more important details about subject in your memory. Also simply learning new language trains memory so this is also a plus.

So what’s now?

There is no any reasons why you should not learn one more language the only downside could be is time required for actually doing it, but hey if you want to be good at your job you have to work hard. If you can come up with more additional benefits please do comment, I’ll be happy to invest more of my time to research this topic even deeper, but I need your help!

Summary:

Cultural differences always were on market and game industry is not exception

History know many examples of content and gameplay alteration to fit different cultures

Player’s preferences are different from culture to culture and there is strong reason that lays not only in different history and values but also because of language

Japan vs. USA is great example of culture differences in video game industry

Culture differences directly correlate with language that prominent in this culture

Language greatly affect our daily life

Game designer to be competitive and creative should learn more and foreign languages is on this list!

There is strong benefits from at least being able to read and listen in different language(source:gamasutra.com