Valentina Ambrogio — professional English to Italian Translator, Localiser and Subtitler

Level Up! ft. Marianna Sacra – 1UP TRANSLATIONS

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Level Up! ft. Marianna Sacra – 1UP TRANSLATIONS

Posted by Valentina Ambrogio in Audiovisual, Interviews, Level Up, Video Game Localisation 15 Sep 2015

Welcome, Marianna, and thank you for being the first amazing player of the Level Up! Series. Marianna and I have been working on the same game localisation project for months and I can tell you that she is a pleasure to work with and to talk to. 

Thank you so much for the honor of letting me be the very first player of this series, Valentina :-)

Introduce yourself and tell us about your skills as if you were a video game character.

German grammar kunoichi and comma junkie. Analytical mind and strong believer Marianna-Sacra2in consistency who will spend unusual amounts of mana on bananas, only to cruelly freeze and mash them afterwards. Will start speaking in rhymes if not fed regular soy-enriched amounts of coffee. Sees bugs, bugs, BUGS everywhere and cannot read anything for pleasure anymore. Beware for she is a ruthless bug slayer who does not believe in features. The feature is a lie.

How did you step into the video game and/or localisation industry? Was it something you always wanted to do or did it just happened?

It was rather random, and I have to thank my mom for that. One day just after graduating from Interpreter School, she showed me a newspaper job ad by Nintendo who were looking for a native Italian accountant. She knew that I have always played video games as she was the one who kept stealing my Game Boy to play Tetris. Obviously, this was no job for me since Italian is not my mother tongue and I used to suck with numbers. But it made me realize that there are actually people who have to work on entertainment products such as games before we can enjoy them, and I was intrigued. A few weeks later, I left my hometown to work with the localization department of Nintendo of Europe in Frankfurt. And I stayed for 7 years.

What do you enjoy the most of your job?

I don’t enjoy monotony, so what I like most about localizing games is that every project is different. With every game I translate, I get to know new characters, each of them with their personal traits and unique ways to speak. And I love bringing them to life. I always face new challenges, be they cultural or in regard to character limitations. I might have to make up rhymes or come up with jokes that German gamers can relate to. A game might take place in a fantasy world filled with elves and funny creatures, or in an authentic Japanese Edo setting. A game can be about virtually any topic. This variety also helps extend my vocabulary.

Is there any advice you would like to give to aspiring video game translators/localisers? List five things any game localiser should have/do to master this profession: 

I give you six, and I hope that is ok :-) [More than OK :)]

1. Have passion: If you love games and painting with words, you are halfway there.

2. Be compassionate: Being able to put yourself into others’ shoes will help you bring characters to life—and help you refrain from cursing the dev for those 527 highly urgent last-minute changes.

3. Play games and read (well-written) books: Enjoy a variety of genres, and do so in all your languages.

4. A stable Internet connection: No need to explain :-)

5. Be open for improvement: One way to get better is to be open for criticism. No one enjoys to be criticized but taking others’ feedback and advice to heart helps you level up, not only in your professional life.

6. Be a friend: There is no way I can keep the most important point short. The video game localization scene is very small. We are all somehow connected, and information spreads quickly. People remember excellence, but they remember bad traits even more.

There is a good chance your current colleague will be your colleague again in another company one day. Maybe even your superior. Or will be asked about your working style back then in company XYZ by the project manager of the company you just applied with. I have landed some interesting jobs because former colleagues have remembered me in a good way. Game localizers are an extremely fun and enjoyable crowd, and you will meet amazing people with all kinds of backgrounds. I am happy I have had the pleasure to work with some excellent people and to have made some great friends during my game localization career. No matter if you intend to work in-house or independently, make sure you are the colleague others love working with—and remember to make friends along the way.


Marianna Sacra
Bio: Marianna is an English-into-German translator, localizer, and game tester based in Berlin. She specializes in video game localization and works as a freelancer under the name of 1UP TRANSLATIONS.  She loves traveling, food, TV shows, and photography. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
Company/Business name: 1UP TRANSLATIONS
Favourite game character(s): Donkey Kong, Link, Conker the Squirrel, Piranha Plant, Ezio Auditore, Samus Aran, Super Mario, Pichu
Favourite game title(s): Pikmin 2, Brothers, Plants vs. Zombies 2, pretty much all Mario and Zelda games
Games you are currently playing: The Last of Us, Assassins Creed II, Plants vs. Zombies 2



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