While at first glance, it’s easy to mix up the terms localization and culturalization, the latter term plays a different role than localization does in translation projects. Culturalization accounts for the geopolitical and cultural climates of the local markets where the content will be distributed after a translation project takes place. While localization centers around how to tailor content to the target audience by taking current events, local news, and regional dialect differences into account, culturalization goes a step further in order to create content that is culturally appropriate and meaningful to consumers of a specific target market. Let’s look at a few examples that illustrate this concept further.
While culturalization can have a vast impact across any type of creative content project, generally this concept is associated with video games. This is because video games can create richly detailed worlds where there is a representation of culture, history, and religion, as well as the use of symbols, body language, and gestures. All of which are elements that may not translate across multiple cultures. Not to mention, there is room to offend a new target market if culturalization doesn’t step in to adjust for that market’s unique history, current events, and cultural preferences. Across the world, different markets have different perspectives on religion, politics, and current events. If a video game (or any other piece of creative content) doesn’t take these differences into account, then not only does the content risk performing poorly in certain markets, it may be banned. The video game Kakuto Chojin was banned in certain parts of the world because it was found to be offensive.
Television and Movies
While Hollywood may be the film capital of the world, there are brilliant television and filmmakers from around the world that create content that reaches the far corners of the globe. For a film or television series to thrive in varying target markets, sometimes culturalization may be necessary to avoid offense or to make the same impact contextually. The point of culturalization is to support content, not disrupt it. If possible, adapting the creative vision in a way that will better fit a new market can make an impact. For example, Disney / Pixar’s massively popular film Inside Out has a scene where a father struggles to feed broccoli to his toddler, who is disgusted at the prospect of eating that cruciferous vegetable. In the United States, this scene is relatable and funny, as many American children don’t like broccoli. So what’s the problem? In Japan, children don’t take offense to broccoli. Their scary green culprit is the bell pepper. So to make the scene just as impactful in Japan, animators swapped the broccoli for bell peppers in the version of the film released in Japan. Sometimes a small change during the culturalization process can make all the difference!