At Anime Expo 2019, Asia Pacific Arts presented a panel exploring how otome games are adapted for Western audiences with localization specialists and producers from Japanese game developers Voltage, Cybird and NTT Solmare.
Sharing stories from how they got into the industry to their favorite aspects about producing otome games, panelists provided fans insight into the cultural challenges and creative opportunities they face to bring these dating simulation games to the English speaking market. Cybird began by explaining character speech adaptation and the illustration process, and then Voltage dove deep into how they tackle cultural nuances and design by conveying the meaning as opposed to literal translation. NTT Solmare followed after recounting anecdotes on ways the team was able to exercise creativity by implementing English phrases to make the gameplay more engaging.
Moving into the interactive portion of the panel, I thought I’d propose a fun challenge for the attendees and panelists, developing a hypothetical otome game. Our panelists prepared some special gifts for participants willing to take on the challenge. The fans came up with a game that takes place in a modern day city in Japan, where the strong and independent heroine meets three men: a devilish bad boy, a cheerful idol, and a sweet boy-next-door childhood friend. After much thought, one audience member answered my final question, naming the game, “The Holy Trinity,” to which the crowd erupted in laughter of approval.
With the premise of our game in place, it was up to our panelists to discuss how such a game would be adapted for a Japanese audience versus a Western audience. They brought up interesting concerns such as how the title, “The Holy Trinity,” may come off too religious in Japan, while the culture and persona of a Japanese idol may require a lot of attention in terms of how to explain and convey that in English throughout the gameplay.
Prior to wrapping up the panel with a Q&A, we commemorated the event by snapping a photo with our audience of over 100 attendees. Thank you to all our panelists and everyone who joined us!
If you’re interested in more panels like this, exploring Asian pop culture and entertainment topics, please share your suggestions with us!
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