story localization

Localizing Stories: Expressions of Love in Different Cultures

By Hagen Weiss

One of the greatest hallmarks of tying humanity together is love. The bond between a mother and child. The physical affection between a husband and wife. The words of encouragement from your best friend.

These are all obvious indicators of love. But, not all cultures express love the same way. That’s why it’s crucial to understand your target audience’s view of love before you begin your localization process.

Different Words Describing Love

The word “love” is relatively clear in Western culture. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, love is defined as the “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.”

While the English language has one common word for love, certain cultures have multiple ways to describe this concept of ‘love.’ For example, the Arabic language has at least 11 different ways to say love. In Arabic, hawa indicates the initial attraction towards one another (i.e. romance). Compare that to wid, which is akin to liking one another (i.e. friendships).

Likewise, in Japanese, the term koi no yokan refers to a ‘hunch for love’ – as in a feeling you have that someone is the one for you.

As you can see, love can be described in a variety of ways outside the English language. Make sure you use the correct term when localizing your story to your target audience.

Public Displays of Affection

When localizing your game, you must consider what is acceptable public displays of affection (PDA) for the audience’s culture. Even if certain countries don’t have rules or regulations against PDA, what is normal for one society may be offensive in another.

In the US and most Western nations, couples hold hands typically to show they are in a romantic relationship. However, holding hands in Arabic cultures denotes a friendship or bond between the two. In Arabic cultures, you’ll see friends of the same gender hold hands in a non-romantic way.

Many Asian cultures are quite reserved in their PDA. You won’t see a whole lot of kissing or cuddling in public. However, while the older generation may be more conservative, the younger generation is becoming more liberal in their public displays of affection.

Individual vs. Collectivist Culture

The US is known for its individualistic culture. When someone is interested in someone else, that person will directly pursue the other person. For instance, an American man may purchase jewelry for a woman he has an affinity for and gives it to her as a gift.

In the context of a collectivist culture (for instance, in certain Asian countries), rather than directly pursuing their love interest, the man may present a gift to the woman’s family instead. For these cultures, the idea of familial approval is extremely important.

iGlobe: Translation, Game and story localization, and Marketing Company
While love is a universal phenomenon, the ways we express love can differ from culture to culture. It’s important to account for these varying expressions when translating/localizing a narrative-based game. Your audience will be much more engaged if you consider these cultural factors.

If you require translation, story localization, or marketing services for your game, we can help! iGlobe works with gaming companies to get their games to their intended market.

Contact us today for more information!