Speak Japanese and English? Interested in video games, especially indie video games? Want a good way to put those Japanese skills to good use? Or maybe do you want to really find out how terrible your Japanese has become since you’ve left Japan 12 years ago with a bonus crushing reminder of how you’ve how old you’ve become without having accomplished anything?
Perhaps the Localization Jam (LocJam) is for you, and I’m not channeling anything, Mom.
LocJam is a video game-based competition for people who can’t program, draw, design, or make music, but still want to be involved in the video game industry somehow without having to start by cleaning sinks at Nintendo. Naturally, I was drawn to this competition like a fly to a magnet. An moderately skilled fly to a magnet covered in metallic job offers.
The sickeningly sweet allure of a chance to reaffirm all the doubts I’ve ever had about my life choices proved too strong for my ever-present demons to resist. I downloaded the package as soon as I could (4 days late, somewhat ironically due to a trip to Japan), and hopped right in, pausing only every 20 seconds or so to look up every 5th word. First problem was of course with the title いきなり魔王 (Ikinari Maou), which I initially translated as Abrupt Archenemy, but later ended settling on Sudden Demonlord with the grim realization that sudden did not have any synonyms that began with d.
The rest of the translation went much more smoothly, sending 8-4 copy on most of the Japanese to translate. Perhaps it’s not an award winning entry, but it’s one I’m proud of nonetheless. My once semi-forgotten and fuzzy Japanese skills came to the rescue, I experienced raised self-esteem, and for once I decided not to make a self-deprecating joke. At the end of the day I got myself a pizza, sans maize, in celebration.
Since I speak both Korean and Japanese, like to write, and have no other viable skills (but a lot of heart, Mr. or Mrs. potential employer, Sir/Ma’am), I’ve often thought of getting into localization as a career in the video game industry. LocJam has shown me that this is definitely something I could get into on a larger scale.* Actually, my next step is to learn how to use professional translation software to minimize inconsistencies, which seems easy enough if you can get ahold of the crazy expensive software.
It’s a bit late now, but if you want to see what’s up, head on over to LocJam.org to check it out. If you’re interested at all in localization, the rest of their website might help as well. Fun!
*Remind me not to look back on this after becoming a embroiled in some sort of localization scandal in like 2026.