Category: Culturalization

Board games & Tabletop games – The rising stars in Gen Z gaming culture


When people talk about “games”, people would think of video games first. It’s true that video games are a big thing nowadays. But there are also other kinds of games that don’t require machines. These are called Board games or Tabletop games.


Board games are the old-school games that require things like cards, markers, board, dice and other stuff. Something like “Monopoly” might be familiar to many people. Right now, the popularity of board games (at least in Thailand) has been increasing. Many “Board games cafes” have been popping up all over the place, where people will gather around and play their favorite board games. There are also many Youtube channels and Twitch streamers playing and streaming board games sessions. 



Video games have been adapting or using the concept of board games. Board games like Werewolf, Mafia, and Avalon have been re-create as a digital version, while adding some new features that are only possible in the digital forms. Other games like Mario Party and Pummel Party have adapted the concept of board games to create a party game full of many mini-games. Something like Deceit and Town of Salem use some elements that can be found in board games as one of their mechanics or ways to play the game. An example is the deception in Deceit, where the infected have to act like they are not infected, while finding the opportunity to kill all of the survivors before they escape.




But what many people might not realize, is that Board games are a type of “Tabletop Games”. They are also gaining more popularity. The term Tabletop means that it is a game that is played on a table or other flat surface. Things like Chess, card games, strategy games, and even paper and pencil games are a part of tabletop games. Also, each category separates into many kinds of its own.

Now, going through all of the categories might be too much, but I want to focus on one other type of game that is gaining more popularity. It is also one of my new hobbies I started doing during the quarantine. I’m talking about the strategy games, specifically the miniature wargame called Warhammer 40,000.



Miniature wargame is the game that players collect and paint their miniatures, build an army of their own, and put their army against another player’s army. Warhammer 40,000, produced by Games Workshop since 1987, is probably the most popular miniature wargame in the world.



As it’s name said, Warhammer 40,000 is set in the far future 40,000 years from now. Humanity of the Imperium of Man, once the most powerful factions in the galaxy, are now in constant struggles against other alien races (aka – Xenos), supernatural beings in the twisted dimension called The Warp, and the traitor human factions who join the four Chaos Gods.Each faction also has its own unique characteristic and playstyles, such as


  • The Imperial Guard – normal human soldiers with World War 1-2 estetic, is considered the “horde” army (have a lot of models in the army). Their playstyle is to make a gun line and overwhelming the enemy with firepower from their soldiers and tanks

  • The Space Marines – The posterboys of Warhammer 40,000. They are the superhuman soldiers in the power armor, wielding futuristic weapons. They are considered the “Jack of all traits” factions, due to they can fit in any playstyle the player wants. Depending on the “Chapter” that the player chooses, they can be good at melee, range combat, hit-and-run, forming gunline, hold positions, or taking objectives. They are also the best army for the beginner, due to the fact that they are the “standard” army that have not too many or too many miniatures in the army, and can perform well in every phase of combat.

  • Grey Knight – Secret chapter of the Space Marines in which every member is a Phyker. They are consider the “elite” army (only few units in the army) and are specialized in melee combat and using “psychic ability” (basically magic in this universe)

  • Necron – The ancient machine who has been slumbered for millions of years, now has been awakened by the disturbance from the outside. Their units are tough but slow. They also have a special ability that allows them to revive any models that have been killed.

  • Ork – A comic-relief green-skinned alien with a ramshackle weaponry and vehicle that looks like scraps stick together, but win battle through sheer numbers and brutality. They are the horde army with terrible shooting, but very powerful in melee and win through their sheers numbers.

  • Tau – A new alien race with eastern-inspired aesthetic. They utilize a long-range plasma rifle and a very powerful mechanic-suit. They have the best range weapon and have tons of rules that prevent enemies from approaching your army. Their weakest point is that they have no melee abilities.


With its futuristic, grim dark setting, deep and complicated lore and stories, and the variety of factions to choose from, make this probably the most popular miniature wargame in the industry for more than 30 years. And with the quarantine taking place all around the world, it causes many people to have a lot of free time on their hands.

With these free times, people start to find things to do. With the power of the internet, many people stumble on the world of Warhammer 40,000. Many people start collecting models, paint their army, and wait for the situation to get better so that they can meet up and play together again.

Also, with the launch of the 9th edition and the new box “Indomitus”, which focus on the rise of the Necron due to their ancient leader “Szarekh – the Silent King” has return from his self-imposed exile, and the Space Marines who fight back the rising Necron. More people are now starting to get into this hobby. As at the writing of this article, the Indomitus box has all been sold out. So much so that Games Workshop has to come up with the made-to-order of Indomitus box.

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Memes of 2020: Animal Crossing & Doom Eternal


(Image courtesy of Reddit)


The Internet often brings gamers a world of wonderment, when it comes to memes of popular games. One recent example is “Doom Eternal” vs “Animal Crossing”, which was released in the same date – March 20, 2020. 


“Animal Crossing New Horizons” is the sequel of 2001 Animal Crossing for Nintendo Switch while “Doom Eternal” is the sequel of 2016 “Doom”, which has been delayed since 2019. Both games are exact the opposite of each other.


Animal Crossing is a friendly, for-all-ages game that lets you fish, decorate your house, and collect goods from your farms. Doom Eternal is a bloody, fast-paced action first-person shooter where you play as the “Doom Slayer”, the unstoppable warrior who single handedly raise hell’s minion by shooting, bombing, and of course, ripping-and-tearing the minions of hell.


Although these two games are vastly different, some fans have a bright idea of bringing two characters together. They thought that Isabelle, a character from Animal Crossing, with her adorable appearance would match Doom Slayer’s tough exterior.


(Image courtesy of Twitter/MrAgentStrange)


(Spoiler: It was revealed in Doom Eternal that the Doom Slayer in Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal and the Doomguy from the original Doom are the same person. And the reason for Doomguy to raze hell is because Hell’s minion killed his pet rabbit Daisy.)


Fast-forward to February 2020, in which both games constantly promote their presence on Twitter. It seems the people in Bethesda and ID Software are aware of the meme and started joking around, asking Nintendo if Isabelle will be on the Animal Crossing Livestream event.


(Image courtesy of Twitter/NintendoAmerica)


Just like that… the meme went viral!

The fact that the official Twitter account acknowledges the meme and seems to like it, causes people to create more artwork, short videos, and even music videos that shows Doom Slayer and Isabelle becoming friends. Here are some of the examples of fans creation from this meme:



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Following “Soulsborne” games, “Souls-clone” games are born!

A scene from Nioh. Image courtesy of Mercado Libre Argentina


As more and more players are interested in the Dark Souls series, other game developers started making games that resembled the Souls series in difficulty level, the “death penalty” mechanic, and even the map design. These games were known as “souls-clone” or “souls-like”.


“Nioh”, the so-called  Samurai Soul is one example. This game has very similar mechanics with the Souls series. Another example is Hollow Knight – a 2D platform that has the difficulty of the Souls series. From Japanese game development company Fromsoftware, they created Bloodborne – a Gothic-Victorian-themed “Dark Souls”. Bloodborne is also one of the most popular PS4 exclusive and that’s the reason why that this kind of game is called “Soulsborne”.


Image courtesy of HorrorWire


After achieving great success from Bloodborne, Fromsoftware released Darks Souls 3 – the third and final game in the Souls series. Dark Souls 3 cloned some of the mechanics from Bloodborne and its core mechanic got polished. It is also the closing chapter of the Dark Souls series, wrapping up the story that was built up since Dark Souls 1.



After the end of the Souls series, Fromsoftware announced Sekiro: Shadows die Twice, an Action RPG that is so unforgiving that many Souls “veteran” said that it was harder than Soulsborne games in the past. 


While Sekiro shares many mechanics from Dark Souls, such as the unforgiving difficulty and the loss of currency punishment if you die, it also has a lot of things that differentiate itself from other Soulsborne or Souls-like games. It removes the multiplayer aspect of the series, removing the stat customization, various weapon types, and different kinds of magic and sorceries.


In this game, you will play as “Okami – the Wolf”, a Shinobi who failed to protect his master, lost his left arm, and have to bring him back using his ninja skills and a new “shinobi prosthetic arm”.


The combat systems are also changed and focus on parrying the attack more than blocking and rolling as in Dark Souls. The storyline is also more straight-forward, unlike the Souls series where you go through the worlds in which major events had already happened, the story and situation of Sekiro is more linear and easy to understand.


Sekiro gained a good reputation as a new Soulsborne game and has reached more audience. The combat is so challenging and the story is so engaging that it is much easier to understand by the new audience. All of this combination makes Sekiro a very successful game and as a result, Sekiro won the Game Awards 2019 “Game of the Year”./.

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The cultural dimension in games localization

Games are a cultural experience for the people who play them. If you are developing games for a single market, you may have a blind spot as to the culture that you build into your games. This is fine if you plan to keep your games in your primary market. If you want to touch the world, you will need to learn how to localise from a cultural perspective!

Translation is not enough.

One of the top mistakes that expanding developers make is to think that literally translating a game is enough to move into another market. “Transcreation” is a better word (it means “connotative translating”), but even this is not enough.

Gamers around the world are looking for the most entertaining experience they can find. This comes from a quality called immersion, or the ability of the gamer to suspend belief. For a game to maximize its immersion, it can’t have translations that require the gamer to think about the meaning of what is being broadcast. If this happens even in the slightest, the developer risks a less entertaining experience. This will eventually turn into lower sales, low virality and less market share outside of the primary market.

Understanding culture is the answer.

The same game in two geographic areas will not elicit the same response from gamers in either of those spaces. The purpose of localisation is to change the game so that each version of it gives the most positive experience possible for all users, regardless of geography.

Gamers look to games that mirror their culture. When the words in games are translated into another language, they oftentimes miss core elements of the connotation behind the words. To take this into account is called transcreationMuch of the dialogue in action games, for instance, involves slang, innuendo and plays on words. This content must be transcreated, not simply translated, in order to maintain any sense of culture.

Localisation has led to some of the most famous gaming tropes in history. In 1980, the Japanese game Puck Man became the world icon Pac-Man after Japanese gamemakers adapted the name for Western audiences. The Japanese game originally known as Hitler’s Revival: Top Secret became Top Commando (luckily), and many swastikas visible in the game were changed into other symbols.

Government censorship is a huge factor.

Any gamers who played Final Fantasy Legend II outside of Japan may remember the mission that called for your heroes to stop a gang of banana smugglers. The Final Fantasy series is known for being quite a serious brand – banana smugglers seem quite out of place. However, it remains one of the most popular missions in the entire Final Fantasy series.

A bit of research shows the reason for the bananas – a localisation because of possible government intervention. In the original Japanese game, the smugglers were dealing in the much more serious industry of opium. However, Nintendo and the American government at the time were completely against selling the game to children with the mission in place. A quick decision was made, because the studio did not want to lose out on the Western market, and opium was changed to bananas.

Subtitling vs. dubbing – a way to preserve more of the original feel

Different localisation methodologies work in different ways. Researchers have found that gamers will respond more positively to a less localised game if the game is subtitled than if it is dubbed.

When a game is subtitled, the original audio still plays in the game prominently. However, international audiences can still follow along with the flow of the game without losing immersion because the text is easily accessible. If a game is dubbed, the original language is not anywhere to be found. Gamers expect the rest of the cultural changes to take place if they hear a transcreated audio. That is not necessarily true with subtitles.

Game designers who do not have the money to completely transcreate or localise a game will sometimes scale down and include subtitles instead of taking on a dub. The result is useful for smaller studios with smaller production budgets. However, blockbuster AAA games will almost always have full tailoring complete with dubbing.

Dubbed games tend to sell more, because the immersion is more complete than in subtitled games.

The cost of localisation is coming down, and the payoff is going up.

AV studios that are made specifically to internationalise games are popping up everywhere. It is much easier to hire a translator than ever before. The blueprint has been set, and new game developers have only to look to past success in order to find an example of great localisation.

The payoff for good localisation is rising as the global world of gaming gets smaller and demands more opportunities to collaborate. App stores are global, not local, marketplaces. Game studios looking to scare up investment money will find that localisation is on the tip of every angel investor’s tongue.

In short, it pays to go global with localisation in the modern gaming industry.

If you are looking to the global audience that gaming has attracted, culture is your linchpin to the world. Consider all of the connotations that the language in your game is cultivating. Take the time to adapt your game to the audience that you have in mind. Your investment may be the catalyst that will catapult your product into international success.

The 4 game-overs of culturalization

OK, so you’ve got a seriously great game that blows people away in the US. It’s bound to have the same impact in China, Japan and South Korea, right? Wrong. What makes a good story in one country may not work so well in another, worse still it may even cause offense – call it what you wish, a ‘culture clash’, but this is where culturalization comes in.


When approaching culturalization, there are four major potential pitfalls to consider:

History, beliefs, cultural/ethic friction, and geopolitical perspectives. Run afoul of any of these, and your game might well be banned from the most sensitive markets.

Let’s look at them one by one:

Victors may write history, but rewrites may be in order before that history is presented to foreign markets. Past events are among the most sensitive topics when entering into foreign markets since most (especially non-Western) cultures are very protective of their historical legacies.

Religion, Customs & Beliefs
When entering into markets with strict religious codes, any problematic content can cause backlash. Consider the dominant religions of your target audience. In Indonesia, Malaysia and the Southern Philippines, Islam is the most widely practiced religion; in Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore, it’s Buddhism; Christianity and Catholicism in the Philippines and eastern Indonesia and East Malaysia.

Cultural/Ethnic Friction
Ethnic conflicts in Asia abound (at least 24 ethnic minority groups with potential for conflict have been identified in Southeast Asia alone). But mostly, conflicts arise when there are ethnic or cultural stereotypes within games, or plot points that reinforce negative bias towards specific groups.

Geopolitical Perspectives
Wars are generally fought over three things: Religion, resources, and land. Geopolitical problems arise from the latter as nations vehemently defend their borders and geopolitical perspectives. Usually, these issues result from a nation claiming a territory and requiring that territory be shown as part of their nation in game world maps.

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Challenges to entering Asian mobile games markets

Breaking into Asian mobile games markets is no cakewalk. While some games, like Clash of Clans, enjoy multi-year runs of wild popularity, they are the exception rather than the rule. Most mobile games release quickly, gain popularity fast, and fade away to make room for the next game just as quickly. Time is of the essence, but there’s good news: Since mobile games usually rely on action-oriented game play with simpler graphics, less text and character restrictions, and little or no voiceover work, they don’t take very long to localize!

That’s a good thing, because to stay on top of the market, you have to come in already localized with a system in place for simultaneous delivery (which a full-service localization company can facilitate). You’ll also need a local partner for distribution and/or monetization.

From there, you’ll need to master the finer points of what makes each country’s mobile players tick – or tap, as the case may be.

A few top-tips on what makes who tick (or tap) in Asia


Japanese players expect in-game social interaction, like combat between guilds.

South Korea

South Korean gamers have come to expect frequent game updates and special in-game events.


China has more than 15 app stores – which is a significant change from just dealing with two (Apple and Google’s) – as well as networks selling games, and middlemen at telecom companies and hardware manufacturers.

In general, Asian gamers are better conditioned for more complicated games than Western audiences – your game might be too simple for them. There’s a reason Angry Birds took off in the U.S. and not so much in Japan!

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Finding out which cultural issues may affect your game

In our last post, we spoke all about the 4 pitfalls of Culturalization – History; Religion; Customs & Beliefs; Cultural/Ethnic Friction; and Geopolitical Perspectives. Now it’s time to discuss how you actually go about avoiding them.

4 top tips to avoiding cultural issues in your game

Build culturalization into the development cycle.

As you’re developing a new game, consider the perspectives of different cultures, ethnicities and religions and incorporate diversity and sensitivity from the beginning (or don’t – but don’t be surprised when there’s backlash!).

Gain awareness of your target culture by asking questions.

Request that your translators alert you of any potential offensive material or content that doesn’t carry the same nuances or connotations in the new language that it did in the original (another reason why in-country, native translators are valuable resources!).

Use in-country translators familiar with the gaming culture of your target audience.

Some cultures are more apt to shrug off material that doesn’t match up with their belief systems; others become militant; most are in between. But, even if the gamers in your target location aren’t sensitive to cultural differences, you’ll still want to tread lightly – it’s not the players but their governments, religious leaders and parents who often lead the charge against “offensive” content.

Decide between deal-breakers and “reasonable risks.” Remember: you don’t have to change anything about your game.

Any changes are at your discretion, though many developers are willing to alter potentially offensive material so their games appeal to wider audiences.


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The importance of understanding different cultural nuances in games translation

Translating any work of art into a new language brings with it a wide range of challenges that must be overcome. It is not enough to merely convert the text word-for-word into another tongue, as there are usually a number of nuances and subtleties that you will miss if you take this approach. If you are not careful, this could completely change the meaning of certain sections of the work.

This is especially important in the world of video games. While this is not always the case, many games contain significantly more text than a film script would. There is also the possibility of having dialogue trees with multiple options, all of which need to be distinctive and carry a different meaning.

Getting this right is crucial. In order to produce the best work that you can, you will need to look out for some of the following roadblocks that can make a translation job twice as difficult as it should be.

Multiple meanings

If you’re accustomed to working in a language such as English, you will be used to most words meaning one thing and one thing only. This is not always the case – such as with ‘minute’, which can be taken to mean ‘small’ or as a measurement of time – but where there is a double meaning it is usually easy to understand it from context.

However, when converting a work into a new language it is easy to miss these contexts, and you could end up mistranslating a word by taking it too literally. This actually caused one of videogaming’s most famous translation errors, when a sentence from Street Fighter II was completely transformed from the Japanese to the English editions.

In the Japanese game, a character says: “If you cannot overcome the Rising Dragon Punch, you cannot win!” However, a translator misinterpreted the characters for Rising Dragon and instead took them to be the name of a new character called Sheng Long. The English version therefore instructed players to defeat Sheng Long, a character that did not exist.

This is a great example of a simple error that completely altered the gameplay of Street Fighter II, with fans fruitlessly searching for a way to get past that level. This shows the importance of making sure that any instruction you give your players is clear and well-translated, otherwise your game could end up confusing people.


Another hurdle that must be overcome is that of censorship. Dialogue that might seem completely well-meaning to you might offend people in another country, which could result in the game being given a higher rating. This will affect sales, as it will shrink your game’s potential market.

An unusual example of this can be seen in the 1989 side-scroller Final Fight. One of the bosses in the Japanese version was a sexualized woman referred to as ‘Poison’. However, this was deemed unsuitable for American audiences, so in the US release of the game all references to Poison use masculine pronouns.

Hearing the character referred to as ‘he’ rather than ‘she’ sparked a debate about whether or not Poison was transgendered, which continues to this day. This kind of change is inadvisable, as it can be clumsy and cause more problems than it solves.

Cultural differences

Of course, there are some games that need to have text and dialogue changed from place to place so that they make sense in context. References to curry might be altered to something like pizza in the American release of the game, as curry is not associated with junk food in the US.

Similarly, a character might talk about playing cricket in a western game, but the Chinese release might talk about table tennis instead. This is simply a matter of changing the dialogue so that it evokes the right impression to players in different cultures.

The Pokemon games have done this a lot, perhaps most notably with the series’ villains Team Rocket. In the original Japanese games they were supposed to represent the Yakuza, but in the West that was changed to the Italian Mafia. As such, the group’s leader was renamed to Giovanni to suggest Italian heritage.
There are so many differences between cultures that translations need to be as flexible as possible so that the meaning of the game comes across correctly no matter what market you are selling it in. As such, you should constantly watch out for these potential pitfalls.


Game Localization Tips

It can be difficult to navigate global politics when all you want to be is a game designer. If you don’t localize, however, you can find yourself at the business end of some incredibly difficult and unprofitable situations.

Western game developers looking to crack Asian markets have repeatedly shot themselves in the foot. Paradox Interactive lost out on 173 million gamers in the Chinese market when its otherwise popular Hearts of Iron strategy game overlooked how its depiction of history might run afoul of the Chinese Ministry of Culture.

Red Storm Entertainment did not change the warmongering North Korean general character in its Ghost Recon 2 game before marketing to South Korea. As a result, the South Korean government refused to allow the game to be sold within its $2.5 billion market. Both of these situations (and so many more) could have been avoided with just a bit of localization to these markets.

So how should game developers localize games to maximize reach?

Converting into the Local Language

Southeast Asia has a $2.2 billion total gaming market with 126 million gamers and growing. Many of the gamers in those countries have low English proficiency, even though English may be an official language of the country.

Translating a game into the local language of the area is one of the most important ways to localize. Not only does translation allow the gamers to better understand the game, but it also helps to create an emotional connection that can only come from a mother tongue.

Translation into the local language should be a priority even in better developed countries such as Tokyo and China. More people in these nations may understand basic English, but the nuances of the language do not make the translation in many cases. With so many games now driven with emotional content, this means a less immersive and therefore less popular game.

Targeting the Proper Platform

Internet access in the Philippines increased by 800% between 2004 and 2014. Were you to venture into the poorest districts in the country, you might find a gaming cafe in the middle of otherwise Third World conditions. Targeting desktops and desktop experience gaming like MMORPG and FPS would work here.

In Japan, however, the number one game genre is puzzle, followed closely by strategy RPG. The majority of these games are played within the mobile environment. If you want to get the biggest piece of this $12.4 billion market, then you want to invest in marketing for smart phones. The Japanese market is also dominated by local publishers, so you will need to localize your language to even have a chance with Japan’s 69 million plus gamers.

In general, everything is moving into the mobile space, however. If you want to be safe, you can’t go wrong with a long term marketing program for smart phones.


Taking a translation from the US into Asia or Africa over literally will not earn you any brownie points in the modern gaming industry. You also need to culturalize the game to the area that is being marketed.

What is culturalization?

In order to really connect with an audience outside of the home market of a game, it must fundamentally connect with that audience. Leaving this out is the equivalent of trying to have an academic conversation with a Japanese scientist on analytical physics using Google Translate. It’s just not going to work.

Changing the culture of a game means looking deeply into the values of the target audience. Your gaming experiences must be familiar to them. For instance, if your war game vilifies Africans and you try to sell it in Addis Ababa, you will probably get your studio banned from the country.

Many games coming from the West have built in ethnic and cultural stereotypes. These stereotypes are so ingrained into Western culture that the developers do not even consider them offensive. For instance, if your heroes are Christian as in Castlevania Chronicles, you might want to stay out of Indonesia and the Southern Philippines where the primary religious culture is Islam.

Game producers must also consider their own geopolitical biases before pushing a game into another market. Automatically vilifying a certain race, religion or ethnic group even mistakenly can get your game banned in an area.

Finding Your Issues

So how do you find your problems if you have a natural blind spot for them (the “no one thinks he speaks with an accent” syndrome)?

The first step is usually indoctrinating yourself into your target culture. The number one way to build an understanding for a group of people is to experience life from their perspective. Many gaming studios now pay for international outreach trips on important games if they know those games will be marketed beyond national borders.

Use translators that come from the target country. Many studios will record audio in target languages at the same time so that a game can get a simultaneous rollout around the world while saving money on studio time.

Present your game in a way that is familiar to your target audience. Asian audiences are used to fonts that are very different from those in American games. Text boxes and fonts should be resized to account for the difference in the lengths of words in different languages.

Regardless of the precautions you take, remember that everything is a calculated risk. You must decide if a market is important enough to spend the time and the money to make cultural changes in a game. If you take this path of localization, you will probably find the international market more open to your efforts!