Translation and/as Interface


  • Stephen Mandiberg University of California, San Diego


This paper argues that game translation should be understood and treated as a type of interface. In contrast to the dominant industry view of translation as simply a means of spreading a game from one country to another, or the academic discourse that ignores different linguistic versions, this paper contends that translation is an interface between the world, players and games that can be transparent, reflective, or both, and that translation spans multiple layers of the game from the code to the experience. This argument will connect J. David Bolter and Diane Gromala's discussion of interface as a design principle with Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost's five-layer platform studies model for understanding games. By repositioning translation as an expansive and necessarily complex interface we can move toward better understanding the space of translation in games and the broader importance of translation to gaming.

Author Biography

Stephen Mandiberg, University of California, San Diego

PhD Candidate, Department of Communication