No hablan Español

In case you were under the mistaken impression that the videogame blogosphere proliferated solely under the purview of English-speaking users, let me disabuse you of that notion right now.

‘Ars Ludica’ is an Italian videogame website that has categories for news, reviews, thoughts and insights. I stumbled across it because someone in a comment linked to my Permanent Death novel – the only reason I would have found it as it would never have been linked to by a big news site, nor would it ever see a Kotaku “Weekend Reader” style reprint. The original article discusses the Ebert ‘games are not art’ position, and it can be read here. Google’s translation function does a passable job: “Normally, when you deny a possibility categorically, it is obvious fear that the same occurs or is already a fact.” A little broken, but you get the gist of it’s direction.

Another non-English language games blog, and one I’ve been aware of for a short while now, is ‘Botón B‘ (or Button B) a Spanish language blog by a Mexican student. If you’re a Chrome user like myself, when the browser detects a page is in a non-English language it offers you the option to auto-translate it into your native tongue. This is an important and useful thing because it speaks of an expectation that there will be pages out there that aren’t in English, and that they are worth being comprehensible. Whether the developers of Chrome meant for their software to be interpreted this way is irrelevant, the net result is one of convenience (not needing to leave the page to go and fetch a translation increases the chance that a non-native reader will stick around) and acceptance of non-English speakers and their webpages. Another example – Sun B Kim’s ‘Design and Play‘ blog is a Korean language videogame blog. Kim performed the  reverse function, manually translating Michael Clarkson’s GTA IV critical compilation from English into Korean in the hopes of helping out local Korean game developers.

Even more typically ‘Western’ non-English languages have a proliferation of videogame bloggers – The German videogame blog ‘Super Level‘ is a good aggregate curator of interesting videogame related stories, and I was personally interviewed by a German games magazine, GEEMag back in February. While browsing the incoming links at Critical Distance just now, I also happened upon the French language videogames blog run by Eric Viennot.

Jim Rossignol, always a man with his finger on the pulse of videogames and culture, wrote about his time in Korea exploring the StarCraft crazed gaming culture of that nation for PC Gamer UK, later republished at Rock Paper Shotgun, and which finally ended up as a basis for large sections of his book This Gaming Life. Rossignol’s got the right idea, and his awareness of the broader international games scene is anything but a liability – pro-level cheating in StarCraft recently came to the fore and Rossignol reported on it for RPS (sadly hampered as it was by a lack of translation!).

Are you beginning to doubt the prevailing narrative of Anglophone-centric videogame blogs as the centre of the blogosphere? The Kotaku’s and the IGN’s of the world are in Enligsh, which can’t even be said to be the most widely spoken language on the planet, and yet you would hardly infer from their coverage the existence of such a disapora of non-English sites (with the occasional exception of a link to some bizarre/exotic/weird/laughable Japanese site, invariably invoking a sense of exoticism and distant curiosity). Simply gaining entry into the network of non-English blogs proves difficult without a Chrome-like auto-translate – how can one know which link goes where?

All of this is to say that we aught not believe the unspoken assumption propagated by the big English news sites; that not everything good and worth reading about videogames has been said, or has to be said, in English. I’m glad I’ve got Chrome and it’s translate feature to explore the non-English corners of the web. There’s gold in them there hills.