Check out This Worldwide Japanese-To-English Game Translation Contest

What? Why are you reading this? You're reading forbidden text and will be visited by three Christmas ghosts as punishment

If you’re studying Japanese and/or enjoy translating Japanese stuff into English, then it’s your lucky month! LocJam is a regularly-held game translation/localization contest, organized by team GLOC and the Localization SIG of the IGDA, with the support of the IGDA Foundation. If that’s a lot of acronyms, don’t worry – basically, it’s a fun little contest/event meant for amateurs and professionals alike. The contest begins on December 9, 2016 and ends on December 25, 2016. Check out the official site with all the details and extra resources here!

The Contest

This time, entrants will get to translate a carefully-selected game that’s fun, offers some challenges, and is short enough to be translated in under a day. I’ve tried it out and I really liked it a lot, so even if you’re not into translation and localization yourself, definitely keep an eye on the contest and try out some of the finished translations. You’ll get real a kick out of it, I think!

Past LocJams have featured different language pairs, so this is the very first time Japanese-to-English has been taken the center stage. If you’d like to hone your skills, add to your portfolio, build your resume, make connections, and all that good stuff, I can’t recommend this contest enough!


A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to make the contest as simple as possible, so entrants will get access to a “translation pack” – a set of easy-to-use files (for multiple platforms) that you can edit and immediately see your work in action.

LocJams also feature real-life study group meetups, and this one is no different. If you happen to be in Japan during the contest, stop by and chat and learn from your fellow translators! You’re bound to learn a lot and meet many like-minded people. The whole contest is meant to be a positive community event rather than a cut-throat competition.


The submitted contest entries will be judged by a bevy of localization veterans, some of whom I know and highly respect. I’m on the judge panel too, actually 😯 I can’t give away any details or anything that might cause a conflict of interest, but I will recommend that you pay close attention, tap into your creativity, and more than anything, have fun with the contest.


Because this is a non-profit activity, there aren’t any prizes of significant value. Instead, the event is focused on increasing visibility – the added experience, connections, and exposure can be invaluable. Man, I seriously wish there had been contests like this when I was first starting out!

There is a small contest within the contest, though, and you could win some Legends of Localization books! For the details, see here, but it basically involves tweeting photos of your favorite localization treasures/tools/items with the hashtag #locjam before the end of the LocJam.

Update: Oh yeah, I forgot that there is another prize: a Famicom Mini!


If you’re interested in the topic of game localization, LocJams are something to keep an eye on. Even if you’re not involved in translation/localization yourself, you can see the process at work, the human side of game translation, and you can play neat games you probably won’t find anywhere else!

For more info, consult the official site here and check out the FAQ here.

Good luck, and have fun!

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  1. Huh. Interesting. Maybe I’ll give this a whirl; they’ll even accept nebbishes like me?

    1. Definitely give the site a read – you’re allowed to form groups/teams, and they’re totally okay with anyone of any skill level.

  2. I’m really excited this is a thing, though I’m not sure I’ll enter. I think it’d be really fun, but I’m only halfway through my third year of college so I doubt I’d be able to make it past the junior translators.

    1. That’s okay – I’d actually suggest it anyway, simply for the learning experience that it’ll give you. I found that I made most of my leaps in skill by working on projects outside of school, which is why I always recommend working on all sorts of translation projects in your spare time, whether it’s games, novels, comics, shows, even websites or washing machine instructions.

  3. I wouldn’t trust IGDA in general because they championed censorship on Twitter with blocklists. How can I trust anyone interested in localization if they’re also interested in silencing dissent or criticism?

    The idea is cool, but I’d rather work with an organization that isn’t promoting radical feminism. I’m female and those ideologies scare the shit out of me, so I’d rather not participate in this contest at all.

    However, I would definitely be interested in hearing about contests like this that aren’t connected to IGDA in the future. 🙂

  4. Thanks for the heads up! I’ll give it a try, as those dates sound very reasonable especially if there is relatively less workload.

    I’m not actually sure how many moji I’ve been through specifically… but I wonder if three manga books, a design book, and other misc articles for 2+ years (plus degree in Japanese Studies) means I should go in as “professional?”

    1. I think should enter as professional
      “You must apply as a professional if:(…) you have any other degree plus two years of experience”

      1. Thank you for the reply, I read that but was unsure since there was also a rough amount. : ) I will apply as a professional.

  5. Sounds interesting I suppose.

  6. Sounds like a great idea. I wish I was less busy with things or I’d give it a swing too.

  7. I’m in the process of trying this thing out. So far, it’s taught me that narration is much MUCH easier to translate than dialogue.

  8. I am laughing at “transrator.csv”. Is that a typo, or a sneaky bit of Engrish?

    Anyway, despite my expectation that I will be unable to translate this with any great ability, I think I’ll give it a shot. I might learn something.

    1. I read the FAQ, and if the person who created the tool is reading this, I apologize. I assumed that this was a tongue-in-cheek joke or a simple mistake. I didn’t realize there were non-native English speakers working on this as well!

  9. An FYI for anyone using LibreOffice:

    Make sure that when you open the file, deselect “comma”. Otherwise when you save the file it will use commas as the separator value instead of tabs.