Let’s Interview; The Source Gaming Team!
Since 2014, Source Gaming has been a rare kind of gaming site. Originally founded for the Smash Bros community and focused on translating Japanese interviews and material, they spend their time trying to debunk rumours and find the truth behind gaming controversies. They’ve talked about verifying rumours, found the origin of Wario’s moveset in Super Smash Bros Brawl and found out what the Japanese audience thinks of various franchises as well as much more.
Above: The banner/branding for Source Gaming.
And now they’re ready to talk about the site with us on Gaming Reinvented! So let’s see what the Source Gaming folks have to say about localisations, gaming and Smash Bros, in our exclusive interview!
So let’s start with a bit of backstory first; how did Source Gaming originally come about? What made you decide to make such a website?
PushDustIn: I was trying to blog for a long time. I had a couple of other ideas, including a blog where I review Community episodes or write about living in Japan. I decided that I should practice translating in my free time so I could improve my skill, and so I could eventually transition into a localization/ translation type of job eventually. Originally Source Gaming was going to house this huge comparison of Majoras Mask (Japanese vs. US vs. Pal, and the N64/ Gamecube and Virtual Console Release) but I found out a lot of the work was done by Glitterberri. At the same time I became very interested in rumors surrounding Smash for 3DS/ Wii U so I had joined Smashboards’ Leak Group. There I became really interested in rumors, and researching them. Disproving them is a lot of fun!
Were there any other sites that inspired you?
PushDustIn: Legends of Localization, Kantopia, GameXplain and SSB4Dojo were the “main ingredients” of Source Gaming. If you think about it, our content is essentially a mixture of all those sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with all of those sites in some way over the past year and a half.
And once the site was up, what inspired you to become part of the team?
PushDustIn: Most of the staff was added from the former Leaks Group on SmashBoards. Nantendo had his own blog which I read, so I recruited him. Nirbion was a friend of GameOnion and after seeing my poor excuse of a header, asked if he could help out with SG. Soma contacted me on Twitter and joined pretty soon after.
Onto Super Smash Bros now, given the site was originally about that series. What’s your history in the Super Smash Bros community? Did you play Melee competitively before?
PushDustIn: I’ve always loved Smash. In high school, I would play Melee for hours with my friends, and in college we played Brawl every day. I used to stay awake for the daily updates on the dojo, and I enjoyed the hype cycle even though I wasn’t part of “the Smash community.” I only joined the online community about 2-3 months before starting Source Gaming.
Soma: I play Melee competitively, have for a year and a half, maybe longer. I’d known it was played competitively since the MLG days, but I didn’t really get back into it until “The Smash Brothers” documentary and EVO 2013. Although me and my friends stopped playing Brawl within a couple months and went back to Melee even as casual players.
Smash Bros is known for its rumours and questionable ‘leaks’ posted before an instalment’s release date. Were there any of these rumours you actually believed at one point?
LIQUID12A: I, for one, was hooked on the Rayman hoax by ArtsyOmni. It seemed so legitimate with the effort Omni himself put into duping us. I was disappointed when it turned out to be a hoax(not heavily, however, since I approached it with skepticism in spite of the “evidence”) since Rayman is a huge favourite of mine, but I’m glad it happened since it puts new perspective on what to believe and the lengths some will go to in order to fool the collective community.
Above: LIQUID12A fell for this Rayman ‘leak’ before it was revealed as a hoax, as did a lot of other people.
Nantendo: I was quite a big believer of the Gematsu leak. I still am to an extent as I think he definitely had information, just outdated information. I will say despite my current thoughts it was pretty enjoyable when Robin appeared on Monado Monday and completely blew Gematsu away. It allowed for Smash speculation to begin anew.
Above: The Gematsu leaks fooled a lot of people.
And for character choices, what’s the story there? Masahiro Sakurai often makes some interesting choices with what newcomers to include, and they often don’t seem to match the characters people are expecting. What’s the logic behind the choices?
PushDustIn: Part of it is that Sakurai does like to surprise people. He seemed pretty happy with himself that (almost) no one saw Wii Fit Trainer coming. Another big part, and this was mentioned in his live stream, is that Sakurai has to figure out what the audience wants — especially the “silent majority”. I know some people will roll their eyes when hearing that, but it’s true. The fanbase that is extremely active with Smash is only a part of the larger Smash fanbase. Brawl sold over 10 million copies, and even /r/SmashBros doesn’t have a quarter of a million subscribers. That’s less than 3% of the sales of just Brawl. A lot of people Smash, and Sakurai tries to consider the whole fanbase — not just the hardcore community. That being said, he does generally pick pretty popular characters. These characters tend to be protagonists, or recurring enemies in a series. Geno was perhaps the most shocking translation we did…I rechecked that sentence several times to make sure it was correct.
Above: The Wii Fit Trainer was a surprising addition to Smash Bros 4
Which Super Smash Bros game is your favourite? The original, Melee, Brawl, the 3DS version or the Wii U version?
PushDustIn: I enjoy unlocking everything, and since Wii U/3DS have the most amount of content, I will say those games. Wii U has an edge over 3DS because of the GameCube controller support.
Nantendo: I am personally stuck between Melee and Wii U. Wii U is definitely the one that has the most going for it, feels the most complete with more content and a solid basis for future games. I want any future smash games to be based on Wii U. However, I cannot deny that I have a lot of fond memories of Melee and its Adventure Mode and I like to go back a revisit it from time to time.
Were there any character announcements that made you really excited? Like maybe Sonic or Mega Man or Pac-Man or whoever else?
And if you could pick one newcomer for the next Smash Bros title, who would it be and why?
LIQUID12A: Mewtwo and Cloud are tied for most exciting reveals for me. The former since he was my most wanted before Smash 4’s release, and the latter because his inclusion seemed all sorts of impossible. And Cloud is how Ryu’s reveal should have happened; completely untainted by leaks to ensure a huge nuclear explosion of excitement.
Above: No one expected Cloud to be a DLC character for Smash 4
In my completely biased world, I select Sylux from Metroid to join the next Smash title. On a personal level, it’s a character I’ve loved for a decade now about to re-enter the spotlight within its series. I’ve covered the character objectively in three separate occasions on this site, so I encourage you to check out those.
Above: Could Metroid Prime Hunters bounty hunter Sylux be a good character choice for Super Smash Bros?
Soma: I don’t really care about Nintendo characters or the characters in Smash as, well, characters, and I don’t really like playing Smash for Wii U/3DS all that much, so not really.
General localisation questions now. What misconceptions about localisation annoy you the most and why?
Soma: I personally find it pretty frustrating when people apply the “well, it’s a translation, so you never know what he said, maybe you should ignore this” train of logic to our translations. Of course, it’s a completely fair one if you don’t know anything about the quality of the translation, but I like to think SG has a good enough reputation and that our translations actually are high quality, so you can’t just dismiss what was said using that line of logic.
PushDustIn: Building on what Soma said, I don’t think a lot of people realize that we proof our translations pretty seriously. Not a lot of sites do this, so I can understand the misconception. Especially if it’s a controversial topic, we will discuss what is the best way to translate it.
When I was first starting to study Japanese, I thought that the literal translation was the best way. After living in Japan, and having more exposure to Japanese I realized that literal translations are not always the best. I saw on a toilet here that they translated Ongaku (Music) as Privacy. At first, I was wondering why they didn’t just use the literal translation — after all ongaku is a pretty simple word. But I realized that privacy better defines that feature on the toilet. Foreigners unaware of that toilet’s feature would better understand because they opted not to use a literal translation.
A less weird example is how place names are romanized in Japan. Kumamoto Castle might be written as Kumamotojyou Castle on signs. If you speak a little bit of Japanese, then you might ask yourself, “Why did they write Kumamoto Castle Castle?” I’m guessing the reason was that when foreigners ask, “Where is Kumamotojyou Castle” the locals will at least pick up “Kumamotojyou” and be more likely to help.
How accurate should a video game localisation be? There’s often debate about whether it should be as close as possible or change things to fit cultural expectations, so what’s your views on this?
PushDustIn: translation is about knowing your audience and purpose. When we translate passages for Source Gaming we prioritize making it readable without losing the original meaning. But that’s what people want and expect from us. When you are translating media for general consumption I think it’s okay for liberties to be taken in order to ensure the same amount of enjoyment can be had. Making the player uncomfortable is a way to bring them out of the experience. That being said, there are some games that should be more literal. Very “Japanese” games like Katamari Damacy can have a literal translation because that’s the charm of the game. Check out the 5 Things that Goes into Translations.
Are there any video game localisations you think were done really well? How about some that were done extremely poorly?
PushDustIn: I haven’t done that many comparisons, but I think Earthbound has great localization. I’ve only played the Japanese version, so I don’t really know, but seeing some of the text in English has made me think that the localization was done pretty well. For a bad translation, I don’t really know. When I was younger I thought parts of Majora’s Mask felt very stilted at times but it’s not an awful translation.
Above: Earthbound has a great localisation.
What’s your views on the censorship arguments, like those affecting games like Fire Emblem Fates and Xenoblade Chronicles X?
Soma: Anyone who cries about the changes in XCX is being ridiculous. I haven’t really been following the Fates controversies in detail so I’ll abstain, but that also feels overblown, at least in my eyes.
Nantendo: the Xenoblade Chronicles X censorship is, for the most part, entirely understandable. I think the removal of the boob slider was unnecessary but everything else made total sense. In regards to Fire Emblem Fates I feel like all of the big localization issues people have are a bit over-blown. The removal of petting is understandable and the Soliel thing is mostly due to inaccurate reporting. It is the little things that bug me more like changing certain support conversations for the sake of throwbacks or memes. That is not censorship, just bad localizing decisions.
Above: This is a bad localisation, but it’s not censorship. Picture courtesy of NicheGamer forums
How about fan translations? Do you follow the various translations on sites like ROM Hacking.net, Serenes Forest, etc?
PushDustIn: I do not.
Nantendo: I only followed the Mother 3 fan-translation which I have used to play the game and the Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru fan-translation. As someone who likes obscure and old games, sometimes a fan translation is my only way to play them.
And yeah, a controversial one this. Memes in translations. Yes or no?
Soma: Memes can be funny but they’re also really only going to be effective for a relatively short time period, so I’m against them, but I’m also not a professional localizer, so.
PushDustIn: Depends on the product, depends on the audience. Generally speaking no.
Nantendo: Depends how they are done. The occasional meme in a setting where it makes sense is fine but not in an area of the game that should be serious or it makes no sense.
Above: Memes in serious games are not popular with a lot of people.
Above: Though people had a decent reaction towards this part in Mario & Luigi Partners in Time. Probably because Mario RPGs are not serious games.
Onto the general gaming scene now. Do you get a bit annoyed when sites try and translate content from Japanese (or other languages), yet don’t seem to actually know what they’re doing, resulting in an article filled with obvious errors?
PushDustIn: Yes, it’s really annoying. I think if people are posting information as news, then it needs to be checked to ensure the original meaning wasn’t lost, or the context wasn’t dropped. Bad translations are worse than posting false rumors because people think someone actually said that. With the limited amount of people who are bilingual, and interested in checking the meaning there’s a huge margin for error.
It really annoys me when translations are rushed and very sloppy. Sure it can be edited, but a lot of people have read it as news, and think it’s completely accurate. There is a “race” to get translations out first, because you don’t want effort to be wasted. But in the end, ensuring the original meaning should be the priority, not the page views.
If sites and people were more careful with checking the meaning, then we wouldn’t have to post so many corrections and people wouldn’t believe in misinformation.
How about the sites that copy the translations from Source Gaming, sometimes without credit?
PushDustIn: Thankfully this doesn’t happen as often anymore, but it’s heart-breaking. When we write an article or do a translation, it’s essentially comparable to a “feature” on most other news sites. Articles and translations take multiple hours to do (depending on the length) and to have that work stolen, profited off of, and then with no support from that person is the worse feeling as a content creator. I know it’s the Internet, and it’s the Wild West for copyright, but at least respect our work. Furthermore, it’s not professional for any organization that is trying to deliver the news just to copy and paste wholesale.
What things should people be aware of when reading up on rumours and leaks online? Any obvious signs that they’re likely not true?
PushDustIn: Potato quality is the biggest red flag. Shake camera photos shouldn’t be a thing anymore in 2016. People post these “leaks” because they are trying to make it harder to see that the image was doctored. Text leaks are almost always fake– especially ones that get posted on 4chan. If they don’t have a source, then it’s 99% likely a fanboy’s wet dream. I don’t know why people even still entertain them. I’ve seen so many fake leaks because of my time in the Leaks Group on SmashBoards. I actually wrote an article about leak busting for Source Gaming.
Above: Question pictures that look this fake/poor quality.
General gaming questions now. What games and franchises are you a massive fan of and why?
PushDustIn: I’m a huge fan of Majora’s Mask. I love the story, the atmosphere, the gameplay…everything. In general, I’m a big Zelda fan. After that, I’ve almost always have been a Nintendo fanboy, so almost anything Nintendo catches my interest.
Above: PushDustIn is a massive fan of The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask
Nantendo: I love old retro games. I feel like most of the time they are far more creative and well thought out than today’s games. I am a big Nintendo fan so enjoy nearly all of their franchises from Animal Crossing to Punch-Out. You could see it as loving the brand but I do truly think they are wonderful game designers. Not perfect, the track-record is not 100%, but more solid than nearly every other company out there.
And do you prefer playing the games in the original language, or the one for the country you’re live in at the moment?
Soma: I can go for either. However, games that have an… “anime” bent to them I prefer to play in Japanese. Localization has come far, but it still gets stuck in certain ruts sometimes that makes the dialogue pretty cringy.
PushDustIn: I buy games in Japanese because it’s convenient, they usually come out earlier and it gives me more Japanese practice.
Nantendo: I play games in English because it is the only language I am fluent in (unless the game is only in another language and then I grit my teeth and bare with it).
How about gaming Youtube channels? Are there any you watch on a regular basis (not just about localisations or rumours or Smash Bros)?
Back to Source Gaming itself now. I’ve noticed it’s a very Nintendo centric site, even after becoming more general. Is there a reason for this? Any plans to cover more games on non Nintendo platforms on the site?
PushDustIn: I’m pretty hands off on what content people actually write. A lot of the time, the authors and translators are picking things they want to write about/ translate. The Character Corner on our YouTube channel was 100% ConorEatsPants’ idea, for example. I have ideas/ suggestions/ requests from time to time, and I organize the posting schedule. We also proof each other’s’ work before it goes onto the site, so it’s pretty collaborative. So to answer your question, if someone on the staff wants to write about non-Nintendo stuff, they can. All of us met through Smash, so I think it’s natural to write about Nintendo stuff.
Nantendo: like Push said, it mainly comes down to our personal preference but I think that for a lot of us we view it as a natural progression of the site. A lot of our fans come from the Smash community and many are avid Nintendo fans so moving from Smash to Nintendo-focused content makes sense. We will make non-Nintendo content if we want though, like Anvil, Spazzy and my Konami Dream Roster or our reviews of Dot Arcade and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up!
What plans do you have for the site in future? Any design updates? A forum? Some sort of regular podcast? Or something else entirely?
PushDustIn: We won’t do a forum. SmashBoards already exists so there’s no need to create a new forum. Plus managing that would take time away from other projects. I overhauled the design a couple months ago because I was sick of the previous design, and it solved most of our design issues. As for a regular podcast…that could eventually happen.
The main issue I have with the site right now, is that it’s not easy to find the information we’ve posted. I’m trying to think of ways to organize/ reorganize everything.
Above: Maybe a search plugin like Relevanssi might help make Source Gaming easier to navigate (it uses WordPress, and the default search is crap)
Nantendo: as the Video Team Leader I want to start increasing our YouTube content. The only issue we have with that right now is time and for some of us, experience. As soon as I am done with my current occupation in life and I can go back to a regular schedule I hope to buckle down on producing videos but I am not sure when that might happen. Thankfully we have a very competent video team volunteering with us right now.
What advice would you give someone who wants to get into this stuff, like learning how to translate information about games or even make their own fan translations of them?
PushDustIn: Just do it. You learn so much by doing…if you stand on the sidelines you aren’t going to improve.
And that concludes our interview. It’s been fantastic having PushDustIn, Nantendo and co talk about Source Gaming and their work on the site, and we really hope they continue working on it for many more years to come. After all, doing research is getting depressingly rare in modern video game journalism, and good translations of things like Japanese interviews and articles are even more so.
So go and check out their site at SourceGaming.info today, and consider following them on Youtube and Twitter as well. These guys have done an amazing job on the site so far, and with your help and support, can make it even better in the future.
Goodbye and good night!