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Insights on Game Localization From Ark One Studios

Ark One Studios General Manager Cristian Modesto has told us about the studio's working organization, explained how they hire new members, and discussed the challenges of the video game localization industry. 


My name is Cristian Modesto, and I am the General Manager of Ark One Studios. Our team is formed by three main units: music and sound design led by Juan Schweizer, marketing and media production led by Denis Davies, and voiceover and localization, led by Sara Medina. We offer creative and managed services for the video game industry, and our main objective is to become a one-stop shop for all services that are not part of our client's core business.

I graduated from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina with a degree in Sworn Translation. In 2008, I co-founded a translation and localisation company called Arcadia Translations. The company quickly grew and became one of the top 10 localization companies in Latin America. In 2019, we decided to branch out and create Ark One Studios. We developed a unique business model that allowed us to incorporate other services into our portfolio that were traditionally handled separately (music, marketing, content production), a really innovative approach that has proven to be very helpful for developers and publishers alike. 

In terms of marketing, we recently helped a publisher with the release of their MMORPG game in Latin America. Our team created all the necessary assets, including videos and trailers, branding material, we handled all influencer management strategy and execution. We also designed and ran several digital marketing campaigns, worked closely with the client to ensure that their vision was brought to life. We are proud to have contributed to the success of the game's launch in the region. 

In our music and sound design division, we have had the privilege of composing, arranging, and recording music for more than 200 games in 2022 alone. Each project presented unique challenges and opportunities, as all projects should. But we believe that music and sound can play a vital role in creating a truly memorable gaming experience, and so we take pride in delivering exceptional soundtracks that make the content stand out among the competition.

Finally, in our voiceover and localization division, we have helped localize over 600 games across all genres in more than 30 languages. We have provided localization services for games on a variety of platforms, including mobile, PC, and all market consoles. Ark One Studios is a team of professionals with different backgrounds who are committed to giving our clients' audiences the best immersive experience possible, taking care of their content as if it was our own. 

Teams Within Ark One Studios

At Ark One Studios, our work is organized around our three main divisions: music and sound design, marketing and video assets production, voiceover and localization. Each division is led by a professional with years of experience in the area. We encourage open communication and collaboration between teams, since one of the main differentiators that we have as a company is the centralization of services that have always been unconnected. Once they become centralized in one interdisciplinary team, they have the potential to change the final product, giving results that are far superior to the traditional approach of doing everything with multiple vendors and in sequential order. 

Just to give one simple example, our music and sound design team works closely with the marketing team to ensure that the music and sound effects complement the visuals and messaging of the marketing assets. The voiceover and localization team works closely with the other two teams to ensure that the translations and voiceovers accurately convey the intended message to the target audience. And if we’re also doing influencer management or digital marketing campaigns, we make sure that content and briefs are properly localized, that copy and keywords are appropriate for the territories selected, and we make sure to create high-impact branding assets to accompany the influencer’s work and the campaigns we run. 

At Ark One Studios, we believe that the best games are created when different disciplines come together and collaborate. That's why we've centralized our services and encourage open communication and collaboration between our teams and our clients. We believe that this approach allows us to deliver the best possible service to our clients and create truly memorable gaming experiences.

Video Game Localization

One of the biggest challenges in video game localization is the lack of context due to how strings are normally extracted. This means that there is often no surrounding text or context to provide clues about which character is speaking and who is involved in the scene, especially in heavy-dialogue games like RPGs. Our approach is to convince developers, when possible, to start the localization process early on during the game's development, and to work together with them to create a system or a process that would later allow linguists to have all the necessary information to produce content that has the same quality as the original language content or have enough time within the roadmap to properly address Linguistic Quality Assurance (LQA). 

In the case of voiceover and dubbing, the biggest problem is casting. Most studios have a tendency to cast the same talent over and over, and this means a very limited variety in voice colors and styles. We make a point of looking for and casting voices that match the actual characters, and not just matching the same voice talents that all studios use with the characters that we have at hand in a specific project. In the case of music, sound design, and assets production, the approach is simple: to convince developers and publishers that we are not vendors, but partners, and that if we are incorporated into the development process as just another part of the team, we can significantly improve the results in those areas.

Digital Art Market in South America

It is growing rapidly, both in terms of audience and gaming companies. In 2021, the market was worth $1.2 billion and is expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2025. This growth is being driven by a number of factors, including a growing middle class with disposable income, a young and tech-savvy population, and the growing availability of high-speed internet. As a relevant note, Mobile devices are by far the most popular gaming platform in South America. In 2021, mobile gaming accounted for 60% of the market. 

But then, in terms of the game development and digital network industry, there’s a similar growth in the region. The market is characterized by a vibrant indie scene, with many talented game developers who are not afraid to take risks and create innovative games. In addition, global companies are increasingly acquiring or opening local branches in South America, drawn by the region's creativity and unique approach to game development. Recently, the government and education institutions are catching up and have shown more support of the efforts that the private sector has done over the last decades. While there are still some challenges to overcome, the game development and digital art market in South America are poised for continued growth in the coming years. As the market grows, we can expect to see more innovative games and digital art being created in South America.

Soft Skills 

Definitely, here are The Big 5, as we have come to refer to them. Over the years, we have found that they’re crucial for the development of any new hirings, and so we pay special attention to them during the selection process. 

  • Teamwork. Specialists must be able to work effectively as part of a team. This includes being able to collaborate, share ideas, and give and receive feedback. Most Ark One Studios’ projects are interdisciplinary, so a non-collaborative atmosphere is the antithesis of what we stand for. 
  • Communication: All Ark One Studios’ team members must be able to communicate effectively with other team members, both verbally and in writing. They should be able to clearly explain their ideas, and most importantly, to listen to feedback, and resolve conflicts by being straightforward and direct in their communication. 
  • Problem-solving: The ability to identify and solve problems independently is of paramount importance to us. This includes being able to think critically, come up with creative solutions, and being comfortable with working under pressure whenever this is necessary to complete a project.
  • Willingness to learn: We are all learning, all the time, and we value team members who are open to new ideas and feedback, and who are willing to help each other succeed.
  • A positive attitude: We want to work with people who are passionate about their work and who enjoy being part of a team. 

The Onboarding Process

We have a formal onboarding process that helps new employees learn about the company, our culture, and our expectations. This process includes meetings with their manager, future team members, and other key staff. Then they go through a mentoring process in which the person that did the training or onboarding follows them closely on the day-to-day operations for a period of time. We provide regular feedback and then use that feedback as a constructive tool that helps them grow and develop in their roles. We believe that by creating a welcoming and supportive environment, we can help beginners to succeed in their roles and make a positive contribution to our company. 

In addition, we also encourage them to attend team meetings and social events. This helps them to get to know their teammates and learn about the company culture. We provide them with opportunities to collaborate on projects. And we seek to create a space where they feel comfortable asking questions and seeking help. This helps them feel supported and confident in their work during the first stages in the company. 

Work-Life Balance

First and foremost, we prioritize work-life balance. Ark One Studios is a 100% remote company and we intend to keep it that way. This goes a long way in balancing work with life since people work from their homes. We encourage our team members to take breaks, use their vacation time, and disconnect from work during non-work hours. We make a point of helping all team members better manage their workloads in order to reduce stress. When this is not possible due to the nature of certain projects, we work with them to find solutions and workarounds that will allow them to keep doing a fantastic job without losing time to do the activities that help them disconnect from work.

We strongly believe in the importance of freedom and creativity in the workplace. We encourage all team members to suggest new strategies and workflows. In fact, many of the ideas that we have implemented over the years have come directly from our staff. We believe that the best solutions and strategies often come from those who are closest to the work and understand it most intimately. We actively seek input and feedback from our team members in order to continuously improve our services and operations. At the same time, each client and each project may imply new or particular ways of working backlogs, priorities and communication. So we learnt to be flexible, to adapt and to adjust, keeping the efficiency and well-being of everyone involved in the center. 

Furthermore, we place a high value on education and ongoing learning. The video game industry is constantly evolving, and it is essential that our team members stay up-to-date on the latest technologies, trends, and best practices. We motivate our staff to level up by offering growth opportunities within the company. We have a career development program in place that enables our team members to advance their skills and knowledge and take on new challenges and responsibilities. We also provide regular feedback and recognition to our staff, acknowledging their accomplishments and contributions to the company.

Tips for Artists

If you are an artist who is interested in working at our studio, here are a few tips: 

  • Portfolio: Your portfolio is your most important tool for showcasing your skills and experience. Make sure it showcases your best work and highlights your strengths in your area of expertise.
  • Passion for video games: We are looking for artists who are passionate about video games and the industry. 
  • Team player: We value collaboration and teamwork, and we are looking for artists who can work well with others. Be willing to give and receive feedback, be open to new ideas and perspectives, and be willing to help out your colleagues when needed.
  • Stay up-to-date: The video game industry is constantly evolving, and it's important to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and trends in your area of expertise. Keep learning and experimenting with new tools and techniques, and be willing to share your knowledge with your colleagues. 
  • Be adaptable: We work with a variety of clients and projects, and we are looking for artists who can adapt to different styles and requirements. Be willing to take on new challenges, be flexible, and be willing to learn new skills as needed. 

By focusing on these areas, you can increase your chances of being successful as an artist at our studio.

Cristian Modesto, General Manager

Interview conducted by Gloria Levine

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