Hugo Miranda

S1 EP11 – Ft. Hugo Miranda

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Episode Transcription

LORE: Hello, everyone! Welcome to another Open World LocFact. Today’s LocFact is about one of the best-selling PlayStation 3 and 4 games: The Last of Us.

FLOR: The Last of Us is considered among the greatest video games of all time. Set in post-apocalyptic United States, it tells the story of survivors Joel and Ellie, as they journey westward together through what remains of the country in search of a cure for the plague that has nearly decimated the human race.

LORE: We all know that The Last of Us has unique storytelling, captivating characters, and outstanding art design, but let’s get into its localization.

FLOR: The Last of Us was released simultaneously all over the world, achieving what is called a simultaneous shipment, or “sim-ship,” so it makes sense that the name of the game was not translated, remaining “The Last of Us” in every market.

LORE: Yep. The game was fully localized in different stages. It was localized upfront from English into these languages on screen. Then they included this other set of languages. And eventually they decided to explore markets such as… these other languages on screen.

FLOR: Yes, and one of the factions of The Last of Us II is the W.L.F. This acronym for “Washington Liberation Front” makes an easy phonetic leap to “WOLF,” in English, of course, but it was very difficult to maintain this same connection in other languages, though. In Spanish, for example, it was decided to call the group “Lobos,” or “Wolves,” but translate the acronym as “Frente de Liberación de Washington,” since it appears on-screen and the characters themselves discuss its meaning in the game. On the other hand, it was decided not to use the feminine of “wolf” in Spanish, “loba,” for the female characters since it has a pejorative meaning.

LORE: Probably a good call.

FLOR: Yeah.

LORE: Now, let’s talk about the resistance group researching a vaccine for this infection, The Fireflies. The organization’s symbol, a stylized representation of a firefly, is often shown in the game, and the player can collect Firefly pendants with the same logo.

FLOR: The Italian translators, though, chose not to translate the expression literally, as “lucciole.” The problem here was that “lucciola” refers not only to that beloved nocturnal beetle, but it’s also a euphemism for a prostitute.

LORE: Yes. And since the leader of this group is a female character, Marlene, and is even referred to as “Queen Firefly,” the translator thought it best to translate “The Fireflies” instead as “Le Luci,” or “The Lights,” thus preserving the reference to light while avoiding a possible association with prostitution.

FLOR: So we’ve come to the end of this LocFact. Thanks for joining. Is there any other game you would like us to include in this section? Do you know any other interesting facts about any video game in your language? Please hit us in the comment section, and thanks for joining. See you next time!

FLOR: Hi, everyone! Welcome to a new episode of Open World. Today, we have a very special guest. His name is Hugo Miranda. Hugo began working in the video game industry as a translator back in 2006. Can you believe that? Hugo has been part of the Blizzard Entertainment family since 2011 and he’s their Language Specialist for Latin American Spanish. Hi, Hugo. Welcome. How are you today?

HUGO: I’m good. How about you guys? Thank you for inviting me here. Very excited to join you.

FLOR: Yes, I mean, I know that it’s been a while since we’ve been trying to make this happen. And like I said, we’re very excited to get a chance to talk to you and for you to share your knowledge and wisdom in the localization field.

HUGO: Awesome. Great. Thank you.

ALEX: I’m very excited, Hugo. Thank you very much for accepting our invite. So I’m going to kick off with the first question. Now, we know that your first language is Spanish, right? So I want you to let us know, what was your first experience with another language, and why did you study English to begin with? And I also know that you are quite proficient in Mandarin. So if you can give us a walk through your first steps into the languages?

HUGO: Sure. How much time do you have? So anyway…

ALEX: Uhmm, I have about…

HUGO: I first had this intuition to follow languages when I was pretty young. There was a show called Telematch on TV, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, and it was a German show. It was a competition show where they had games and they were wearing these big bobble-heads…

ALEX: Big bobble-heads, yes. It was called Supermatch in Argentina. But yes, I know this show. Yes.

HUGO: And the special thing about that show is that they had a countdown in German. And I just picked up on that. I was like… Well, I just naturally picked up on repeating the numbers. I just loved making those funny sounds. But anyway, nobody really noticed anything, you know, like I had the ability to learn languages back in the day, until later in high school. I just got interested in following the lyrics of songs in English. And, of course, we had English classes, which were really easy. And I took French at the time too, which I was not too attuned to at that time. And later, in English… Well, my father, migrated to the U.S. back in the eighties, and later I followed. Well, maybe ten years later, I followed. And that’s when I continued high school here in Los Angeles. Actually, a high school that is very close to Hollywood. And something very interesting happened because at the time, in my native Costa Rican high school, I was a very, very bad student, very poor. I mean, failing a grade… failing a few classes meant that you failed the grade and you had to repeat the whole thing. Well, that happened to me. But then when I got to the U.S., it was all brand new. All of a sudden, I was an A student. And I would tell back to my other friends in Costa Rica, “Hey, guess what? I’m like an A student here.” “Yeah, right.” Nobody believed me. And then I would tell my friends here, “I used to be a pretty bad student.” Nobody believed me. So that was my encounter with English. I picked up my first book from my teacher’s desk. And, you know, it had some skeletons on the cover, and then I just opened it. I picked it up, I opened it, I flipped through the pages and I saw Punta Arenas. And then at the time I thought, well, there’s two Punta Arenas in the world that I know of. I think one is in Chile or Argentina. It’s all the way…

FLORES: Yes, it’s in Chile, if I’m not mistaken.

HUGO: It’s in Chile, right? And so I saw that and I was, “I have to make sure that this… which Punta Arenas it is.” And it was Costa Rica, so I picked up the book and I read it because it said Costa Rica. The title of the book was “Jurassic Park” at the time

FLOR: Look at that.

HUGO: Yes. That got me excited into reading and I did a lot of reading in English. And so of course I excelled in that. I graduated high school and then I did some college until I went back to Costa Rica to become an English teacher. And I did that for about four years until I was pretty tired. Costa Rica is a very small country and there’s very limited opportunities to what you’re exposed to. And I always dreamed of being a sort of Indiana Jones, you know? Remember that scene where he breaks into a foreign language when he’s in India? And I was like, “Whoa! How can he do that? I want to do that.“

FLOR: You keep repeating all of my favorite stories, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones. Which one’s next?

HUGO: So I wanted to be that, I wanted to speak strange languages and be in foreign lands. And as I was teaching English, during my breaks, I would flip through the newspaper looking for opportunities. And one time I saw this scholarship offer by the Taiwanese government. And I thought that was for me. I applied for it. Out of 70, there were 12 selected. I had a number of reasons to, you know, follow that pursuit. And one might not be that obvious, but I am 1/8 Chinese. I don’t look like it too much anymore.

ALEX: You look like more of a 1/16.

HUGO: Oh, okay. You’re close. During high school, I read a lot of Confucianism and Confucius. I was really curious on the culture. So that took me to Taiwan, where I stayed for about five years. I did three years of language training, and two years of geography in Mandarin. After I finished that chapter, I came back to the U.S. and started in the gaming industry.

FLOR: Which leads us to the next question, because I definitely want to know how you got into the gaming industry. Why games? What do video games represent you?

HUGO: You know, career wise, I started in 2006, but I think it goes way back when my father bought the first console for me, an Atari 5200. It was an upgrade from the 2600, so I was kind of popular in the neighborhood because we had that.

FLOR: Everyone wanted to play with you, right? After school.

HUGO: Yes, I was one of the few…

ALEX: That was in Costa Rica, right?

HUGO: That was in Costa Rica, correct.

ALEX: Okay.

HUGO: And there was a problem, though, not many people to exchange game cartridges with, you know? So I would say, after that, I got to the Nintendos and all the games that came with Nintendo as well. I skipped the Sega, but the Nintendos and the Ataris have a very special place in my heart. And I would say that’s when it all started, understanding, you know, analyzing a game, how to break through different levels and whatnot. So going back to after I came to the U.S., I found this small company that was looking for a Spanish translator. And we don’t have that industry anymore, but they were called Betting Games. And the way they worked, there were games like Tetris or Zuma, if you remember Zuma, or Bejeweled.

FLOR: Yes.

HUGO: And they had, you know, they have kind of hacked the games that were online and you could play for money. If you were good, you could earn money. It was like an online casino for gamers, something like that. So I did that and the company did not last too long. And at the time, I remember my boss telling me, “Hey, you know, there’s this job opportunity for this company out in Orange County.” And said, “Oh, forget it. I don’t even have a car. That’s too far for me, so I think I’m going to skip.” That company was, you know, sold out. And I did a couple of odd jobs in the meantime, like, I worked for a bank and I managed their Chinese site, their Spanish site. And, you know, fate had me where I moved, I had to move to Orange County. So during the 2008 downturn, you know, the economic downturn in the U.S.

ALEX: Yeah, I remember.

FLOR: Yes.

HUGO: I decided to go back to school and finish my degree. And linguistics was by far the easiest thing I could find because I had the languages there already. And so it was actually the minimum number of classes I would take. At the beginning, I didn’t really know much what it was all about, but I fell in love with it right after I did my first class and was like, “Oh, my God, where has this been all my life?” Nobody’s ever told me that linguistics, I mean, with such an unsexy name or sexy name, I don’t know, that was the thing for me. So that was a breeze. I did that for about two years, and before graduation, I started looking for jobs. And a neighbor company was Blizzard Entertainment, and they were looking for a Language QA. And then I remember recalling my old boss saying, oh, my God, this was the company he had told me back in 2006. I couldn’t believe it. I could have been working there since 2006.

FLOR: You belonged there. I mean, it was meant for you.

HUGO: And of course, the rest is history. I went through the ranks, I did QA for about a year, and it taught me a lot about maneuvering inside the games, which is not an easy thing. For example, for World of Warcraft and then StarCraft, that was very different. And Diablo III that, at the time [indistinct 15:10] and it was not out, we were doing QA for D3.

FLOR: Wow. And you were one of the first people to ever play it. Right?

HUGO: Yes. Yes, you’re right.

FLOR: Incredible.

ALEX: You know what? I’ve told you this in some of our previous talks, but I love Diablo III. I love it. And it is till this day that every time that I find any locked doors, I go like the Witch Doctor in Spanish, “Está cerrado (It’s locked).” It’s like in my brain, that’s the sound for a locked door. “Está cerrado.” And for my wife, too, because I say it out loud.

HUGO: That’s so nice to hear. That’s so nice to hear. I don’t hear those stories enough because we make a great effort or I make a great effort to put in the diversity in dialects and accents into the game, because I know that they’re being ingrained in the players, in the gamers’ memory for a lifetime. So it’s so heartwarming to hear stories like that. Thank you, Alexis.

FLOR: Well, it would be great if someone watching this show and as a big fan of any of Blizzard’s franchises, please leave a comment below. If you’ve experienced these games in Spanish for Latin America, in particular, this is the person you want to thank for that. So please leave your love for Hugo in the comment section.

ALEX: Yeah. No, thank you, Hugo, for making such a great job because it leaves a mark. It leaves a mark. I don’t want to stay too much in this because I’m gonna cry, but… I’d like to know, how do you manage nowadays…? Because we’re all busy, but I can imagine that what you do, your position, must book your time pretty, pretty heavily. So how do you manage your time and balance work with your everyday life? Do you still have time to play video games? Do you play video games still? And I’m going to leave another small question for that, because it’s a long one.

HUGO: Okay. So the short answer is yes, I still find time to play games. They are very significant for me. It’s a way to relax. And some people, you know, they read the news. Some people watch movies. Some people play with their pets. Or some people play video games. And it’s a way to find refuge from the day-to-day life to recharge your batteries. So it is very important for me. And of course, it benefits my job and it pays off when you show that knowledge. And it benefits others, too, in your job. Going back to what I do for Blizzard, so I left you at QA, I did that for about a year. I later moved on to Content Editor, which was basically synchronizing with the translators that we have as outsource partners, right? And then because of needs in that department, I moved to Project Management. That was more of a language agnostic position, but still keeping, you know, final decisions language-wise. And now the latest of the evolution is Language Specialist. In my view, I’ve always been doing the same thing. But I just provide people with different services, if you know what I mean. And in terms of how do I manage my time? So there are some things that I have to do for work in video games. I am doing one right now, but I cannot share any details. Haw-haw! And I am…

ALEX: You’re so mean!

HUGO: I am collecting information. I am researching this product for the benefit of the translators that are going to get this product later on to localize. So some of that can be done, you know, as part of my job. And others I do here and there. I would say I play more mobile lately.

FLOR: Interesting.

HUGO: Because it takes a little more time to turn on the console, sit in front of the TV, you know, find the time and the space.

ALEX: Yes, I can relate to that. I have a two-year-old in a small apartment that we live. So mobile gaming is very, very, very comfortable.

HUGO: Yeah.

FLOR: Maybe you should turn to mobile as Hugo.

ALEX: Yeah.

HUGO: That’s a very interesting stage and it has its advantages. I remember when we had newborns, it was kind of fun because you had to stay up through the night sometimes or wake up at odd times, or sometimes you don’t fall asleep again. So guess what? Come on, console.

ALEX: I’m gonna play. Yep.

HUGO: So you just find your time and you adjust to it.

FLOR: Yeah, absolutely.

ALEX: That’s how it works.

FLOR: And you mentioned some of the things where some of the people you interact with as a Language Specialist, but I wanted to know, how does a day in the life of a Language Specialist look like? What are the challenges that you’re facing or that you faced through the years? Because probably they have changed.

HUGO: Yes. There has been an evolution for sure. But when I started, I was not so mature in the position and the team was not either. And so I remember… it’s actually a very endearing memory for me when we would have the… I call them the tomato-tomato discussions. Because for Latin American Spanish, it’s something that is very dear to us in every country, we all have our own nuances, because we grew up in a linguistic bubble, you know? We had marketing, we had TV, we had friends, we had school, we had the university. And someone that comes around from a place that is not from where I am and tells me that I’m not speaking the correct Spanish, it’s definitely an insult because, “Hey, my grandmother spoke like that, my grandfather, my parents, my classmates. They all spoke like that. Who are you to tell me I’m wrong? I think I’m right.”

FLOR: Kind of your identity. It’s what makes you you, right?

HUGO: Right, right. So when you bring on different Spanish speakers from different countries, and they’re just finding out about what others sound like, what others experience is like, you know, it’s a little bit challenging, and it was at the time, to explore our differences. Luckily, I am a descriptivist linguist. I think… Descriptivist? What is the other opposite of descriptivist?

FLOR: Hmm…

HUGO: Prescriptive. So a prescriptive linguist is the one that kind of follows the rules, kind of like the grammar, the language police, and a descriptive linguist is the one that’s just like a scientist, observes the behavior of a certain language, understands why they speak like that, where they come from, and then kind of tries to marry the differences. And that is kind of what I did at the very beginning in our department.

ALEX: More artistic, sort of speak, right?

HUGO: Right. Right.

ALEX: You mentioned scientific, but I imagine like someone that works their art with languages.

HUGO: Mm-hmm. Well, linguistics is a science, a social science. So that’s why I slipped that in there. So it happened when, say, we would decide a name for a unit or an important name for an expansion, and then people would have all these feelings about a certain word. So then I had to explore, you know, where they were coming from, what sounded natural to them, and then do the same thing for the other part and then try to explain, “Yeah, this sounds natural to him or her because of this and that.” And the best thing to do for the game would be based on the trends that we see in all of Latin America, kind of like that. So those are kind of like… I’m kind of deviating from the question, am I?

FLOR: No, but it’s fascinating. I mean, you can keep going for hours. It’s all right. Like I would listen for what you have to say for hours. I mean, it’s super interesting how it can be as simple as, yeah, there’s not one single variant, and that’s it. So you may choose, for example, Latin American neutral Spanish or Mexican Spanish and put it under an umbrella. Or if you dig and you go deeper and you realize that there’s more than just a variant, it’s just the culture behind those variants and the people behind them that speak that specific variant. Right?

HUGO: Right. So the different tasks I get for work, when they are linguistically related, we just geek out so much on them and we could talk on forever about those. I remember one. I’ll give you an example of where we had a bug in an audio in a game and… I don’t want to say that word right now. It’s a Spanish word. And there’s these little creatures in the game World of Warcraft, they’re kind of short, but they’re not the goblins. What are they?

FLOR: We might need Lara’s help here.

HUGO: So, in English, they’re called “gnomes,” okay? They’re called “gnomes.”

FLOR: Oh. It’s “gnomos” in Spanish.

HUGO: Oh, there you go. You said it. I did not say it. Just the way you pronounced it. In a game. And then we got it in Blizzard at HQ, and we all looked at each other and were like, “What are they saying?” Because nobody knew it by “gnomos.” We all said it as “nomos.” So that took me back into a historical [cut-off audio]. And you wonder why some people would say “gnomo” and other people would say “nomo.” And maybe we could talk about this offline.

FLOR: Yeah. For the people that are tuning in, “gnomo,” as I pronounce it in my Argentinian Spanish, is written as g-n-o-m-o, right?

ALEX: Right. Gnomo.

FLOR: So I pronounce it “ñomo” and Hugo, you pronounce it “nomo.” Correct?

HUGO: Nomo.Yes. Yes.

FLOR: And we speak the same language. It’s fascinating.

ALEX: Yeah, but that’s the beauty of it. Hugo, by now, I mean, we know, but our audience must see that you have a beautiful way of seeing life and to see language and to talk about it as well. Right? And I know that you see life as a video game, right? Where you can be either Indiana Jones or someone with special abilities. And you’re an advocate for bilingualism for future generations. What are your thoughts on what’s the potential of future generations for people in the industry, in language and gaming? Take it wherever you think.

HUGO: So, that… My endeavor of talking to elementary school age kids about what I do at work came about because I was once invited at my son’s elementary school to read to the kids. And I was like, “No, but to go there and read a book in English? That not me. Why don’t we go like, you know…” I used to watch in the movies where parents would go and talk about their professions. And why don’t I prepare a presentation, and talk to the kids about what I do at work? And at the same time, I bring the exposure of the idea that speaking languages is okay, it’s natural, because that’s something that here in the U.S. is not so common as you would see it in other areas of the world where multilingualism is more common. Here, there is bilingualism and multilingualism, but it’s kind of like in the shadows still. You know, you keep it at home in a corner or with your friends, and if you’re in public, you whisper it. Or if you go order McDonald’s, and I turn around to my son in Spanish to ask him what he wants, you get all this, you know, it’s kind of like in a movie, all the bright eyes in the darkness staring at you. So I saw that as an opportunity to also show my son that it was okay to talk about that. And of course, I put in comparisons. You know, I pulled one of those Hearthstone cinematics that you could see on YouTube. I couldn’t pull out an Overwatch one, although I really wanted to, but it might have been a little bit too violent for eight-year-olds.

FLOR: Yeah, probably.

HUGO: But I’m sure they see it at home. So I saw that opportunity to talk with them on those topics. And then it just evolved from there. The teacher had a son in a bilingual program at a different school, and he said, “Well, would you do the same thing at this other school for my son’s class?” And then he moved from there to a local library. “Hey, why don’t you do that for that community?” And then somebody else called me, you know, someone that I had met ages before that worked at an elementary school. And then I did it again. So I’m like, you know, happy to offer that. And I sell it as a way to, you know, discover your abilities, like in a video game, like a language is another ability that you could use for a job to, like, work at Blizzard or anywhere you want. Right? And also to give them the idea that playing video games is a way of getting to know yourself, getting to know what you’re good at, what you’re bad at, what you like, what you don’t like. And those are skills that you should know by the time you get out of high school, you should not go into university, you know, listening to others tell you what you should study. You should know by then. So games are a way to let you find out what you like and what you don’t. So I think it’s all connected. I think it’s all beneficial. But of course, you know, some people abuse screen time, right?

ALEX: Yeah. No, but what a wonderful story, Hugo. To think that you thought it just for your kids’ class, right? And it evolved. No, it’s amazing. I’m kind of speechless right now, but just because I enjoyed it so much.

FLOR: Yeah, it’s so nice that you get the chance to give back to the community, right? Through language, which is your passion. So it’s a beautiful story. And talking about passions, and I know you pretty much have the dream job, because Blizzard Entertainment is an amazing company, has incredible games. And we wanted to know if you have any recommendations to translators or linguists that are trying to get out there in the industry and are dreaming of maybe someday working at Blizzard or a company similar to Blizzard, though I’m not sure if there’s any. I mean, what would you recommend to them?

HUGO: Hmm. That’s a really good question. It depends. It varies depending on where you are and what you like to do, right? I think it’s your passion that kind of drives you to a destination, right? And then how do you break into it? Like breaking into the industry at first. There’s so much competition, but then there’s also so much opportunities. We live in a day and age where video games is taking over Hollywood in terms of entertainment. So it’s huge. It’s huge. And guess what? Languages as an industry is also exploding. Is there a lot of content right now, do you think? Well, there’s gonna be a lot more, and a lot more content to translate.

FLOR: Yes. This is not stopping.

HUGO: Right. So if you are a translator, say, and you’re interested in video games, well, if you were to solve it like in a video game, you would try to find the easiest way in, right? If it’s a big wall that you have in front of you, try to find the easiest way in. Find the door, the broken door that no one is looking for. Find the easy way in. For me, the easiest way in was using my languages, using my interest in video games, and that I lived nearby. So if you kinda summarize, putting it on a list, making a list of what would be easy for you. What skills do you have? Some people might have marketing in there. And guess what? We also need marketing people. Lawyers. We also have lawyers, right? Right. They are necessary in our society. So it just depends. And, say, if it’s a specific company that you’re looking into, it might be… it might look like a fortress at first, so find the easiest way into the industry first. Work on a smaller project first. That will build up on your experience. When you go on to the next opportunity, you can say, “Well, I did this and this and this at this other company, and I thought there were better ways of doing it. What are you guys doing?” And that gives you power, right? Just like when you analyze one video game, and I could just drop one here like Mario, right? And when you compare it to Donkey Kong, and you play Mario, we can have a conversation, we can compare it. How is it different? Who made the game? What years they were published? What consoles? And that is all knowledge that you would gain from having that experience, right? So I would say anywhere that you can find, put your foot in the industry would already give you more power to go into the next level, and the next level and the next level. Kind of like World of Warcraft.

FLOR: I love that you’re bringing the fact that you don’t need to have like a specific skill or area of expertise because as you said, we need lawyers, marketing managers, localization specialist and account managers, producers, game developers. You don’t even need to be just a developer to be in the gaming industry, right?

HUGO: We have librarians, we have historians, we have business intelligence people that analyze huge batches of data.

FLOR: Geologists. We had… One of our guests, one of our special guests was Kate Edwards as well, and she has so much background in geography and history, and still she’s collaborating and adding so much value with her background. So everyone has something that can add value to the story, right?

HUGO: Definitely so, definitely so. One example that I always like to bring up is when we worked on Overwatch. And, you know, one thing that I always wanted to do was to use my Chinese expertise in the games where I work, and the opportunity never really came about, you know? I would see it on everyday tasks where I would try to understand the English, to understand the source, and I would look at different languages. And because of Chinese and the way they look at things, the way they describe things in their language, I would understand right away what they’re talking about, okay, this is what it is in Spanish, or this is what it should be for other languages. But never really as impactful as when the Overwatch project came about. And when we were deciding who was gonna be the talent for it, and we definitely wanted someone who spoke the language, and we were just very lucky to find the talent that we found for Mei, who has studied Chinese in Mexico. And she was not a voice actress as a profession, she’s more of a drama professional and a writer.

FLOR: Interesting. And how long did it take you to find her?

HUGO: Well, we had to do it very efficiently, maybe two or three weeks.

FLOR: Well, that’s very efficient for such a special profile, right?

HUGO: We had to we had to move very fast because we didn’t have time. So we found her. And since she had never recorded in Mandarin Chinese before, she looked at the script and she said, “Well, yeah, I can do it, But there’s some words here that I don’t understand.” And when I heard that, I was like, “Wait, wait, I can help!”

FLOR: Your opportunity to shine, right?

HUGO: Yes. So what happened was that I joined the recording sessions remotely, and then I helped her with the pronunciation of certain words, the pronunciation of sentences, and also just, of course, because she is very good at it, just to give her that emotional support.

FLOR: Well, I think it’s about time to go to our meme round. What do you think, guys? Should we do it?

ALEX: I’m down for some memes.

FLOR: All right. Well, this is the first meme. And here I think we’re gonna need a little help from you.

HUGO: Here it is. Yes. This is a… this is not by far a popular meme that you see out there that people share about, because this was an internal discussion and happened about by the time Heroes of the Storm was coming out, because this is the character in Heroes of the Storm.

ALEX: Yes.

HUGO: At the time, we had this discussion of what we would name our demon hunter. And in English we had the name Valla, right? And then there was an issue with that, because if we published it as the way it is in English, people would read “valla,” and that means like “fence” or something. And so something like very uncool. I mean, people are gonna be saying, “Valla, Valla, Valla,” and it’s gonna sound like, “Go, go, go,” or like a fence.

FLOR: Yeah, [it sounds 40:58] forced, right?

HUGO: So, yeah. So what do we do? What do we do? And there was this heated discussion about, what do we name them? And then we reached out to the dev team and they said, “Well, there’s also this other demon hunter in the lore,” and this is public, actually, “and her name is Tyla. Tyla is another demon hunter that is mentioned in the lore. Well, would you guys be okay with that?” So then that was brought on the table and then we started discussing. Anyway, it went on for hours. It was so long, it was so heated and people were fighting over this, that our current director in localization made this meme. They mirrored the image and put Tyla and put Valla and then, go, fight, who’s gonna win?

ALEX: The PvP.

FLOR: Now it makes sense. Yeah, who would win in that story?

HUGO: We were like literally bringing out the popcorn and, “Yeah, you guys keep discussing, keep discussing. I wanna see how this ends.”

ALEX: I love Valla, but I wasn’t aware of the Tyla one.

HUGO: Yes, yes. You know, just to tie the knot at the end… Oh, and there was another issue with Valla because, in Argentinian Spanish, you will pronounce “bala,” not “Vala,” and “bala” sounds like “bullet” in Spanish, but in Argentinian Spanish, “bala” is something of a bad word that we did not want in the game. So yeah, we didn’t want that. We didn’t want “bala.“

FLOR: Yeah. We can also pronounce it as “vaya” as well. I mean, it can mean like a barrier or something and you don’t want that either.

HUGO: Right. Right. Yeah. In the end, we took out one of the “l’s” and it stayed as “Vala,” and there were no issues with the other meaning of the word. It was my guess that, you know, taken out of context, if it’s in the context of the game, you’re not gonna think about it in any other context. Why would you? Why would you, right? And we haven’t heard anything so far, so please don’t go bug it now, I think it’s fine.

FLOR: Thanks for sharing this inside meme, and I love that story. Thank you. This is for all Spanish speakers out there.

ALEX: It depends on who you call, right?

HUGO: Yeah. You’ve got A, B, C, and D, and, you know, the first time I saw this meme, I was like, you know, I’m a Spanish speaker, I should be able to answer this. You know, some monolingual person sent me this and, “Okay, so what is it? What is the answer? I wanna know.” You know, “I probably have the answer.” And then I looked at them, and it was like, “I don’t know.”

ALEX: All of the above.

HUGO: I don’t know what “ahorita” means. I don’t know because it depends on how you use it in your context, in your country, in your atmosphere, in your family.

FLOR: Oh, I love this one. Yeah. And we can probably find even more if we Google, because there’s so many different ways to say “popcorn” in Spanish. You have no idea.

HUGO: Yes. This is one of my favorite ones. I use it at work often, and particularly when I do presentations to my teammates, you know? I do presentations on the Chinese language to explain the difference between traditional and simplified, and why if it’s, you know, if one is simplified, why is not the other one complex? You know, I don’t understand that dichotomy. So I use this one to explain why Latin-American Spanish is so difficult. Why? Because when they, you know, when developers or production sends a query and they ask, “Okay, we want to know what this would be, what the translation would be for your language, because the developers want to implement this in the game.” Okay? And then you see all the languages answering and there’s like German, boom, Spanish, boom, I mean, European Spanish, boom, French, boom, Russian boom, Chinese, done, Brazilian Portuguese, done. And they’re like, “Where’s Latin American Spanish?”

FLOR: All over the place.

ALEX: Working on it.

HUGO: “I’m still discussing with the people, I’m doing my best. I’m still discussing to, you know, marry all the opinions and getting the best answer to you.” And that is because you have to go through all the countries that you have, you know, you can reach out to. Well, this meme is kind of old, at least the picture, right? At the time, I don’t know, I must have made it like six, seven years ago when we started discussing this topic. And for Spanish speakers, it’s a very sensitive topic because it talks about the core of who you are and how you speak. And so, when you hear the first comments of neutral Spanish and, you know, nobody likes it because they all defend who they are. And yes, I see that, I respect who they are. I mean, I am the number one person that, when I visited Buenos Aires, I started speaking like the locals like right away because I wanted to pick it up. And, you know, and then I came… you come back and then you start finding a love for the way things are pronounced a little bit differently. And then it just sounds like music, so beautiful. So I am the first one to appreciate the diversity in accents. And the issue of neutrality comes when you have to publish one product to a huge market. Right? So what do you choose?

ALEX: That’s what I was saying, right? Like teach your kids the ways of video games, then they’ll never have money to buy drugs or something like that.

FLOR: Yeah, it’s a healthy hobby.

ALEX: Yeah.

HUGO: I think so. Yeah, I agree. And World of Warcraft is not an easy game. I mean, I’ve played it and I don’t do… I don’t do like 10% of what you can do inside World of Warcraft.

FLOR: Really?

HUGO: I mean, I’m like questing and sometimes I fish, like, the most boring things. And I don’t do raiding or even battles. Oh, my God.

ALEX: I’ve felt like John Wick every once in a while in this picture, especially because of all the bruises and all the low health.

HUGO: Yes, it happened to me on World of Warcraft, because you have to go pick up your body, right? And sometimes he’s right there. There’s not enough time for you to leave.

ALEX: Yeah.

HUGO: So, yeah, it’s kind of funny.

FLOR: I had so much fun. Thank you, Hugo, for sharing your memes. We like to think of it as a way of getting more personal with our guests, because we like to know what makes them laugh. Thank you for sharing what makes you laugh. It was an absolute pleasure to have you here with us today, Hugo, and to learn more about your incredible journey in Blizzard and in the localization industry. Thank you, Alexis, also. It was lovely having you, everyone. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you in another Open World. Take care.

HUGO: Bye, guys.

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