This may sound like a niggling point to most people, but it really grinds my gears when I see what could otherwise be a stunning work of art fall flat because of poor editing.
I don’t mean bad proofreading . Yes, it’s true that my inner OCD sufferer may twitch whenever I see your and you’re mixed up, but it doesn’t actually hurt me on some deep level as does seeing a product that could have been turned from something mediocre in to something that could have truly shone.
It’s frustrating to see good stories held back from being great ones simply because someone forgot to proofread some text before sending it out the door. This is one of the reasons I have trouble reading for fun sometimes, as I’m taken completely out of the narrative when I see an awkward or incorrect turn of phrase that wasn’t done on purpose or for stylistic effect. It just makes me want to grab my red pen and start scribbling in the margins.
This experience happened to me yesterday as I took some time to play through Deadlight to completion. The gameplay is so tight in this action-platformer that I just want to leap back in and replay it, but having to sit through the cutscenes in between chapters once more just makes me cringe because the developers mangled the English language like a dog chewing its own asshole. Most of this is likely due to the fact that Tequila Works, the developer behind Deadlight, is based in Spain and is composed of non-native English speakers.
English is a bastard of a language, as anyone who’s had to learn it as an adult can attest to. Fluency is difficult to attain just in order to speak it, and writing in English not just fluently but with a polished style is even more challenging. Bad translation jobs are nothing new in the video game industry and in fact have sparked some of the worst and most played-out memes out there, such as the it-was-funny-15-years-ago “all your base are belong to us” from Zero Wing.
However, the problem with Deadlight isn’t its developers and their poor grasp of English, which is both understandable and excusable; instead the blame lies with Microsoft, which published the game apparently without reviewing it. This resulted in cutscenes that sound like they were written by a melodramatic fifth-grader with a bad case of dyslexia. The dialogue especially makes me want to throw my copy of The Elements of Style at my monitor.
While it may sound like I’m raging over something incredibly inconsequential, I’m really not – I’m more upset over how easy a fix it could have been, and how it could have transformed the game from a strong 2D platformer with terrible writing to a near-perfect gem of a title. I mean, Jesus Christ do these video game companies not have a few extra bucks to toss at an editor or two to keep their shit fresh?
Speaking of which, I’m available for freelance work. Hint, hint.