With the release of the official Irish localization of the video game Among Us, an ancient language and one of the most popular video games of the last year have come together for the first time. Since the beginning of this month, the trendy sci-fi whodunnit game has been made available in the Irish language.
A proficient Irish speaker, writer, content producer, and Twitch streamer, Na-Minh Kavanagh is the driving force behind the project. She hails from Kerry in the southwest of Ireland and is the project’s initiator. After receiving a resounding reaction to her Twitter request for an official version, she was approached by Callum Underwood of Robot Teddy, the consultancy business that is assisting Innersloth creator Among Us. Immediately after finishing their Irish modified version, Kavanagh and a team of translators from all around the world began to work on turning it into an official translation.
Maith sibh! Cad é "sus"? 😅
— Cllr. Owen Hanley (@OwenHanleyLives) December 8, 2020
For her, Among Us was one of those outlets. “During the epidemic, naturally, many individuals sought for an outlet to keep them engaged and connected with their friends, and for me, that outlet was Among Us,” she says. “Before Among Us was even considered, though, I had joined a community of translating aficionados, and we had begun working on several large-scale projects and translations together. It was [Among Ustiny ]’s size compared to the games we had been attempting to translate that initially grabbed our attention. Additionally, the game was released at a convenient moment for us.”
Over the course of five months, Michael Lelièvre, a localization quality assurance manager from Lockit QA, collaborated with the team to complete the monumental effort of translating, revising, and testing the hundreds of words that needed to be placed into the game.
In all, there were four of us who worked on the translation: myself and Cormac Cinnsealach (both of whom are Irish), Brian C. Mac Giolla Mhuire (a Canadian who is based in Norway), and Mike Drinkwater (who is located in New Zealand). Considering that the three of us were in relatively similar time zones, the main focus was on getting the translations completed, verified, and rechecked—not to mention tested,” Kavanagh explains. “It was critical for us to ensure that not only was the translation as precise as possible and of a high-quality standard but that it was also really localized and made sense.”
It was necessary to use some artistic license to polish the final version, especially when it came to the all-important “sus” (which is somewhat like “ciontach,” which means guilty in Irish, as Kavanagh clarified to an interrogator on Twitter).
“Because not all of the phrases were accessible in the dictionary, we had to come up with other names that were as accurate as possible. The quick chat feature was designed specifically for those who are unable to type on their keyboards. As a result, it has a limited number of words that may be utilized with a single press of the button,” adds Kavanagh. According to the author, this presented some difficulties in Irish since we have a unique grammatical structure that uses VSO (verb, subject, object). SVO is used in various languages, including English, French, German, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, and Russian, to name a few. In addition, the words “yes” and “no” do not exist in Irish. Instead, the verb reflects whether something is favourable or bad, so stuff like that surely gave us time for thought!”
For students in Ireland, where the language is a mandatory subject at school but is frequently criticized for its boring and antiquated method of instruction, the introduction of games in Irish offers up a whole new universe of possibilities for more passionate adoption. “Learning languages through games is a fun and engaging method to do it. According to Drinkwater, players must take in information that they must then react to, and interaction helps players learn more quickly. It isn’t a chore because the games are entertaining.
Given that just 4.2 per cent of Irish people claim to speak their national language regularly outside of the school system, Kavanagh feels that normalizing Irish outside of the classroom is essential. “Those who wish to continue to appreciate the language and immerse themselves in it must be able to do so outside of the classroom setting. You won’t know how much is seeping in while you’re playing because you’ll be so immersed in the game,” she adds.
While this isn’t the first time a big game has been translated into Irish — Mac Giolla Mhuire previously worked on an Irish version of PUBG — it is a significant victory for a minority language in the gaming industry. In the present political climate, Irish is a language spoken by a big and increasing minority. Still, it is neglected in contemporary events, particularly when it comes to technology and modern media, according to Cinnsealach. According to many, the translation of Among Us is the first substantial translation ever done in Irish for a widely recognized video game.” It is a significant cultural win for the Irish people.”
Kavanagh agrees, saying, “It’s vital to have current things available to us in the Irish language, not only [in] games, but in general.” We have a term that means ‘for the cause / to the cause,’ which translates as ‘for the cause / to the cause .’ That is why we do what we do. We can’t rely on the government to decide to change the status quo. It’s just a matter of going for it.”
The release of Among Us is merely the beginning of the Irish language’s presence in the gaming industry, and Kavanagh has already set her sights on future projects. The possibility of a game like Skyrim being translated would make her ecstatic, she says. “However, to be honest, that would need the participation of more than four persons. Considering how large and complex the game is, with its wealth of history, background, and dialectal distinctions, we should have started working on it a decade ago!”