In this installment of our ‘Interview With…’ series, we’re shining a spotlight on our amazing project management team. Keeping up with over 600 clients and 100+ in-house translators is no mean feat, but they have a way of making it look easy! Our localization PM team are not only expert linguists but avid gamers, so they really live and breathe the industry. They’re one of MoGi Group’s greatest assets in helping great games reach out to wider audiences and markets worldwide through their facilitating of outstanding, culturally driven localization.
To give you all a better idea of the kind of hard work and dedication they pour into what they do, we caught up with Ioanna Zikakou who took some time out of her busy schedule to tell us all about just what it’s like to be a MoGi Group project manager. Here’s what she had to say…
If you were to explain the concept of ‘localization’ to an alien, what would you say?
Well… Provided this alien had already grasped the concept of translation, I would tell them that localization is more of a culturally specific process. When approaching a localization project, we aim at adapting the game content for regional consumption and making it seem as if it was created for that specific region or country. Basically making sure that every gaming community can enjoy playing equally.
Tell us about your path to becoming a project manager. How did you get started?
Honestly, when I was in university I had no idea this would be the path I’d end up on. I always had my mind set on translation, that’s for sure. During my master’s degree I attended a course on project management and that’s when the fire really started. A few months later, in February 2016, I joined MoGi as an intern and found that localization project management combined my passion for both language and gaming. After splitting my internship between the first and last quarters of that year (I just couldn’t get enough!) I became a full-time member of the team in January of last year and haven’t looked back since! That’s how it all started really.
Have you always wanted to work in the games industry?
It took a while for me to realize I did, but I always knew I wanted to do something more exciting than legal or medical translation or something like that. Early on I thought audiovisual translation was the right path for me, but then I learned about games localization and I made my choice!
How do you handle keeping to deadlines with projects and clients set in different time zones?
This was one of the biggest challenges I had to face as a project manager. However, over the course of time you get used to thinking in different time zones and coming up with the right solution for each project to make sure they’re ready and delivered on time. For example, one good tip I’ve learned is that if you’re handling a small project for a client in Asia and the deadline is tight, it’s always a good idea to work with a linguist based in the United States or Europe, it can create a little wiggle room time-wise.
What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
I love a lot of things about my job. First of all, I get to work on something that I am passionate about. Not a lot of people are so lucky that way. Also, getting to take a sneak peek at some games while working on them is a huge perk! Another thing I like about what I do is that I get the opportunity to practice my “tech skills”. When we receive a file that is full of code for example, we have to “clean” it before it reaches our linguists. This can be a difficult task depending on the file and the coding language – but who doesn’t like a challenge? But really what I love most about the job is the people. Every day I come in contact with people from all over the world who are as passionate about gaming and language as I am. Having shared interests with your colleagues fosters a really friendly environment and makes you want to jump out of bed and rush to the office!
What challenges do you face most on a daily basis?
A lot of challenges can pop up when working on a new project. First and foremost, the files need to be thoroughly checked to make sure they’re filtered properly so that we don’t jeopardize the integrity of the code. Then we have to make sure we assign the right team to the project and put a plan in place so that we can make sure that the finished product is delivered on time and of the highest quality. We make sure to create terminology lists and translation memories (which work as databases to keep consistency across all projects of the same game). Being a localization project manager is not as simple as it may sound!
What is the most important thing about localization for you?
Localization can be very tricky. It’s a crucial part of making the gaming experience complete and immersive for the player. In my opinion, the most important thing is consistency. There is nothing more annoying when playing a game than finding something translated with a different name than what you’re used to.
What are your proudest moments so far working with MoGi?
I started my career path as a project manager with MoGi, so I’ve had quite a few proud moments. I think my proudest moment so far has been completing my first project or the first time I successfully processed a complicated file on my own and so on. However, it always feels great when you witness the release of a game that you handled by yourself from start to finish.
Has working in the industry changed your view of gaming in any way?
I’ve always loved games (both video and board games) and that hasn’t changed at all but working in this industry – specifically in my position – has definitely changed the way I look at them. I’ve had the chance to see how much work goes into making even the simplest of games and now I appreciate them even more.
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in video games localization or get into project management?
I would tell them to be patient and try to enjoy the work as much as possible. Localization is not something you can do mechanically. It takes a lot of wit and creativity and it can’t be rushed. As far as project management goes, one thing I can say for sure is that it’s nothing like you imagine. It might take a lot out of you but it’s all worth it in the end.
Do you have any predictions about the future of video games localization?
The video games localization industry has been around for quite a few years now and I believe it’s here to stay. As the demand for video games keeps growing, so will the demand for good quality localization in order to help developers reach a far wider audience across the world.
Interested in joining the MoGi team? You can find a full list of current position opportunities over on our careers page!
Wednesday March 28th, 2018