Getting to know Maren Garn

May 29, 2023

Hello there!

I’m Maren and have been working for Native Prime since 2012 as Hamburg-based German Project Manager, translator, proofreader, and LQA tester, first freelance, now employed.

I was born in Hamburg, where I also grew up for the most part. I have a BA in American Literature, Linguistics, and Culture from the University of Hamburg, and have been working in a variety of creative as well as management-oriented jobs during school and university.

How did I get started in video games localization?

Quite by accident, really. I’ve been an avid gamer since my teenage years (first C64, NES and Sega Mega Drive, then increasingly PC only) but I never really thought about a career in games localization. During my time as a student, I did translations for tv documentaries and also helped self-employed acquaintances with translations of business communication, which were my first steps as a translator. After my graduation, I found it quite difficult to find a job that didn’t just pay the bills but that I also enjoyed so I tried a number of different things. Then a friend of mine (who would eventually also introduce me to Friedrich from t-recs studios and Native Prime) mentioned that she knew someone who was looking for a video games translator. Since I enjoy games and already had translation experience, I decided to try it and realized I enjoyed it a lot. So here I am today 😊

Are clients aware of the importance of localization?

This one’s difficult. I think pretty much all clients are perfectly aware by now that games are a global market and you should expect your game to get an international release at some point.

Unfortunately, it often still doesn’t really show in neither the game development nor the localization management on part of the client. For example, where text “real estate” in games is concerned, developers and producers still haven’t learned that you can’t just base the available space of text fields on just the source language (which for most games is either an Asian language or English). Syntax, word length, variety in vocabulary, and more are so different across languages that this simply doesn’t work. The result is usually enforced character limits that end with a translation that isn’t as good as it could’ve been with less restricted space. The players don’t care for the reason, though; they just care about what they perceive as a “generic” and uninspired translation.

While clients usually have localization managers these days, it still seems like the loca experts on their end are not involved during the early development stage at all (or, if they are, I don’t care to think about what that would mean… ). This causes not only the aforementioned problem with text space, but also grammatical issues. Instead of including a proper grammar system from the get-go, this often seems to be done as an afterthought (if at all!) once we, as localization providers, make the client’s loca management aware of all the issues related to affixes for number and gender.

The fact that clients have discovered the use of CAT tools in recent years is also a double-edged sword. If they know what they are doing, it’s great because it makes things much easier, especially for project management. If they don’t, though, it creates a lot of additional work.

There are many other large and small issues, but to summarize: Yes, client awareness has definitely increased and led to improvements in some areas but not in others. And some areas have even gotten worse (e.g., “saving money” by using Machine Translation, which is always a really bad idea for creative translations).

Do you play games?

On a related note: There’s this misconception that people working in video games localization are always playing the newest, hottest titles. We are not. 😊 We don’t have the time for it, unfortunately, and while some clients pay for familiarization with an alpha or early beta version, that’s still limited hours we can spend in the game. 
I’m definitely playing video games a lot less than before I started working in this field; not because I enjoy them less but because I don’t have as much time anymore. But I guess that’s not unusual when you are “all grown-up” with business and personal responsibilities. But when I do find the time, I enjoy a variety of game genres: Survival Games (e.g., The Long Dark, Green Hell, Stranded: Alien Dawn), RPGs (e.g., Baldur’s Gate 3, Cyberpunk 2077), Strategy (e.g., the Anno series, the Endless games), VR (Beat Saber, TWD: Saints & Sinners). 

I hope you enjoy the reading. See you all in the next “Getting to know”!