translation or localization

There’s very little work done on translation and language within gaming. What is mostly done is relegated to celebratory domestication work claiming how poor games sell when the “translation” doesn’t take the target culture into consideration. This of course leads to an understanding that language is negligible next to sale values; that the good translation hides behind the play; that translation is in fact simply localization.

Localization is taking a product and altering it to sell to a local audience. It is a business term that is intricately tied to economics and politics. On the economic, a good localization is one that sells well: change is good as long as it sells more. On the political, a good localization is one that is acceptable within an audience: censoring is a good thing. Within gaming, translation is a matter of localization and has always been so due to the commercial nature of games. In order to problematize such a combination one must either separate gaming from commercial endeavor (something constantly under attempt by serious games, art games, et cetera), or problematize the aspect of new media that focuses on variability to the detriment of difference.

Manovich’s variability claim argues that new media has no original. There’s no original, but then again, there’s also no secondary as all are parts of the same code and property. Thus, within a logic of variability changing the language of a game is a matter of localizing the new media text that otherwise does not change.

The problem with this understanding is that it takes out intention within the language itself. Games have intentions other than play, and an aspect of this intentionality is the language used within it. By focusing on pleasurable flow toward an audience and justifying this through an understanding of games as variable new media such intentionality of the original writer is unfortunately removed. In order to reinsert an idea of intention, if not an origin, it becomes necessary to focus on the concept of translation instead of localization.

Baudrillard and the remake

Baudrillard writes of the real, the hyperreal, representation and simulation. Pomo pastiche has led away from real and representation into a world of cyclical hyperreal and simulation. We’re in it and we can’t get out. This is all well and good.

But what does it mean for the remake and the demake?

If one were to take a complete Baudrillardian take on the remake and the demake there would be nothing different. They both mix up the past and the present, techno-fetishism (whether it’s positive or negative), and nostalgia. But because there’s no difference between directionality in the fourth phase of the image there’s no difference between demaking the present and remaking the past.

This is unsatisfying. Sure, if you believe the full extent it’s where we are, but it ignores the additional logics at play (economic, pleasurable/nostalgic, et cetera). And it is these logics that I want to focus on, because they are logics that matter. On a different scale logics of nostalgia and playing with the past are important when you incorporate the economic element of either doing it for money or doing it as a fan. textual poaching on one level is important, even if it is just one level. Similarly, the phenomenological interaction with one’s own past and a directed return to that past is different from an interaction with the past that is mediated by a company’s economic policy that remakes and redoes as part and process of making and doing.

Meaning matters; particularities matter; the pre-incorporation of an unsettled thing matters.

memory, archive and sources

Bowker claims that the act of remembering gives no guarantee that the thing will ever be remembered. While this is true, he ignores the bit that A was remembered and not B, meaning that while A might possibly be remembered, B will not. With a limited archive (and we are not omnipotent by any means – regardless of a database’s ability to store, we do not know how to record/archive anywhere near all) there is necessarily limited data to remember.

And this brings me to a comment that a doctoral candidate at the NYU media ecology program said about McLuhan Noam Chomsky in regard to quoting. Roughly, “we quote those people/books/lines that we have (easy) access to.” She quotes from the Chomsky book that she has on her shelf and she has it on her shelf as it is the canonical volume. Similarly, I quote Bourdieu’s Outline of a Theory of Practice instead of The Logic of Practice because it is on my shelf. We retrieve from the archive only that which was stored; we retrieve from the archive that which was stored in a more accessible manner.

Two and a half years ago a professor told me that communication was about the storage and retreival of information. Technically, I wasn’t in a Communication program at the time (it was Media Ecology/Media, Culture and Communication) and so didn’t think much of the comment. In truth, I didn’t understand the depth and importance of the comment. Communication, in a lot of ways, is about information that has been stored in some way and is/must be retreived in some way. The details are where the study begins. Hence, communication necessitates an archive: library, bookshelf, memory, history et cetera.

This is of course where we return to the concepts of storage (remembering) and retreival (re-membering). We focus so much on the storage capacity and the speed at which we retreive information, but we don’t seem to focus on exactly what is put down into storage. We know we don’t get everything, but we don’t ever really deal with this. Why? Why is there so little work done on the act of remembering especially when it is turned out into the realm of collective memory and history. Is it to naturalize the details remembered? Is it to hide the production? Or any of the other plethora of answers that are possible.

naturalized, culturalized

The opposition of nature and culture is one traditionally of that which cannot be changed and that which can be changed. Thus, nature is natural in that it is the normal state of things and culture is constructed, actively passively or (false) consciously and can through human means be changed. Obviously, it is not as simple as this though as those worlds themselves are but in a mystified hierarchy of divine nature and base, human culture. Thus, the words and our interaction with them start us out on a path that sees the resultant columns of data (the natural and the cultural) in particular ways. The following will read in part as a long rumination on the categories and categorialization at play in theory. It will also attempt to link these concepts and categories to the general themes of subjectivity, the liberal, the social, agency, ideology and particularly the idea of criticism, or demystification.

Nature is what is. It is outside of human consciousness, but also structuring human consciousness. The natural state of things it he untouched and unobstructed state. However, nature is also divine: it is both in Western thought the pristine (untouched by humans) and the sublime (ultimate, god given state of things). Thus, the natural is both the Ur state from which we have fallen (the garden) through becoming human, but also the state that can never be obtained/attained. On a completely banal side it is also the world itself, as it exists outside (trees, plants, waves, people and even all produced things). However, the natural is also that which has come to resemble any of the above through repetition or even temporal distance (the garden, the unknowable, is nature[e/al]), but so is the city to those born and raised in cities).

On the opposite side is culture, which unlike nature is, according to Raymond Williams, one of the most complex words in the English language. Culture is the social, it is the human derived, the changeable/malleable aspect of the world. It is that which is not nature, but it is not unnatural. Culture has levels and differences and implies, unlike nature, a teleology regardless of postmodern moves to fragmentation. Culture, from cultivate implies an action, a chronology and a history. While nature is timeless, culture cannot exist without time.

All of these statements/claims of both culture and nature are arguable and most are problematic. Both nature and culture are context specific ideas that have been decontextualized and mystified/naturalized. Culture comes from the concept of cultivation, to cultivate, which is a very specific form of action that relates to farming and growing. It was then moved to the debate about cultured as a state of advancement: that which was cultured was not base, but superior. From there it enters the 19th/20th C meanings discussed previously. However, Marx points to a specific aspect of the idea of cultivation in German Ideology that bears on this discussion. He writes that the conscious acting upon the environment in order to produce his sustenance separates man from animal: man is man because he cultivates, not because of some internal determination. This leads to the (teleological) understanding of cultivation, culture and civilization as the linear progression toward some ultimate moment/epoch/event/civilizational level.

To the aptly named moment called Modernity, it is the ultimate level. There is nothing after the modern, the present, because the future always becomes the present when we get to it. The continual deference of getting to the present results in the perpetuation of an idealized non-time. Modernity is the stasis of time.

Of course nature has aspects that existed before modernity, but such meanings had little to do with us as people. Instead, nature exists as the continually offset alterior clause to culture. If culture is the means of consciousness, the subject, then it comes to exist off of the other, nature.

But, what happens when nature becomes culture? What happens when nature is manipulatable to the degree (we idealize) culture is manipulatable?

where do we go from here?

One of the things that I have a hard time dealing with is the popomo question of where do we go from here. Modernity is a dead end full of grand narratives that either simply don’t translate or forever put the other into a place of otherness, and that sucks when the other is you, or it just seems stupid when the other is the person next to you. So there’s Pomo with its fragmentation, its pluralism and its little stories. There’s agency in choice and freedom in buying a shirt from store A or store B. On the one hand you have some sort of efficacy of humanism, dialectic theorization, Habermas, Hegel et cetera. And on the other hand you have anti/post humanism, destabilized fragmentation, Foucault, Nietszche and blowing shit up.

Neither option really ends up being sounding so good, so where do we (or more particularly, I) go from here. I’ve finally come to understand that at base in the majority of the theoretical work done right now is really battling out what the point of it all is. It’s potshots between sides. So what’s the point?

If you want to “make a difference” then you’re stuck with modernity, humanism and all of the bullshit that you know is wrong on a certain level, but maybe, just maybe it could work out. The other option leads to interesting work, sure, but it also means going psycho, strangling your wife or just fucking til you drop because at least that’s having a choice in a discursive world.

Great, so which to choose?


Today I had a long conversation about the differences between and qualities of the prefixes post and neo. Obviously, on the simple root level one implies after and the other implies new. Unfortunately, the usage of the terms is hardly regulated, far from understandable, and often used for the same formation: post-colonial, neo-colonial, post-Fordist, neo-Fordist, et cetera.

Thus, the question turns to what they each imply, what are the particularities of the terms. Post-colonial implies after the colonial moment, there are no more empires or colonies, so the idea of post-colonial focuses on the temporal switch from one era/epoch/period/moment to the next. It highlights chronoogical time as hte basic structure of intelligibility.

In contrast, there are those who adamantly refuse to use the term post-colonialism on teh grounds that formations of domination and exploitation exist despite the lack of colonies perse (American imperialism of the mid/late 20th century and its relationship to Israel and Japan are the standard objections). This is generally resultant in the use of neo-colonialism, which highlights not the temporally specific formation of empire and colonies, but the structural paradicgm and its 20th century revision into a new, but related paradigm. Neo thus implies a progression and revision of structure and ideas.

To here, it is possible to understand the nomenculture as a matter of individual emphasis. The problem is that it goes beyond a simple linguistic turn. History is structured after the fact by discourse: the emphasis of political structure or ethical paradigm restructures the historical field of knowledge.

So, which is better, neo or post? Is time the best way to structure knowledge or is theme? And how do each of these translate between contexts?