Translation and Localization Management student Emily Cipriani created a fun and engaging way to bring nuance and greater value to managing localization providers.
Managing localization providers can seem straightforward enough: Localization teams within a company pair projects with skilled translators, who are responsible for producing a compelling copy that will resonate with clients. Yet language service companies and translation and localization buyers alike, often fail to appreciate the gap between awarding a project to someone who is simply a translator – or worse is. simply being bilingual – and making strategic assignments that take into account all kinds of nuance present in such efforts. Emilie Cipriani MATLM ’22 hopes to change that.
Cipriani was asked to address this issue – specifically, how to match specializations, education, and technological capabilities to localization project requirements – when designing Fruit Vendor, a localization vendor management game based on the popular Apples to Apples board game. The request comes from Alaina Brandt, professor of translation and localization management (TLM) program. Brandt had a concept for a card game and Cipriani executed it to create Fruit Vendor.
To play the game, the dealer, who is called the judge, deals dealer cards to each player and then plays a project card with a generalized set of location specifications (project requirements). Each player, with the exception of the judge, selects from their supplier cards the supplier who would be best suited to provide the translation services described on the project card. Vendor maps include key data points for analysis, including specializations, training, experience, and, of course, pricing. The twist? Vendor cards are all fruit characters! So, after everyone has played whichever provider they think would be best suited for the job, the judge chooses from such characters as Bookish Banana, Lawful Lychee, and Telecom Tangarine. When designing the game cards, Cipriani said: “My Adobe Photoshop account is a giant fruit salad of different icons for playing cards.”
The gameplay is based on dialogue. The judge can clarify his conceptualization of a project card for other players, add details to the requirements, and discuss the decision-making when selecting which vendor to assign the project card to. For example, the judge might point out that for an emergency project, a supplier who does not have strong specializations and technological capabilities is not a good choice, because the judge would not want to be forced to train a supplier on the correct terminology to use or how to use the required technology when the stakes are high. The judge should also be careful not to assign work to a bad apple. If the judge assigns a project to a player who has a Bad Apple card in hand, that person can play their Bad Apple card to steal any Project cards the judge has won. This aspect of the game illustrates the cost of working with rogue translators: money, clients, reputation!
Asked about the difficult aspects of game design, Cipriani recalled, “A first draft of the game design featured avatars of people, but we quickly realized that the process of assigning gender, skin color and even small details like the glasses had the potential to reflect bias in the supplier selection process. I came up with the idea of turning avatars into fruit, which ultimately created a more entertaining thematic gameplay. Making the game fruit-themed ultimately inspired the title of Fruit Vendor. Cipriani continued, “Other elements of the game also demanded tough bias appeals. We have avoided prioritizing specific languages by labeling providers as native speakers and native speakers of the target dialect. However, it also sparked some interesting conversations about what it means to be a native speaker. There are many knowledgeable and highly skilled salespeople who talk about heritage, for example. We also wanted to avoid the idea that high rates are a bad thing. Most of our supplier cards with higher rates also have high skills as evidenced by high level of education, experience and technological skills.
The importance of specialization
Professor Alaina Brandt said of the game: “Vendor managers regulate an unregulated industry by ensuring that language work is assigned to truly specialized vendors. According to Common Sense Advisory, “A small team of vendor managers can make dozens of project managers significantly more efficient. However, many companies and buyers do not yet see the strategic value of prioritizing this function or assigning work to truly specialized suppliers. To reach the widest audience, especially the next generation of location buyers, we wanted to make learning this important function fun. Brandt continued, “I had the concept of the game, and it was Emily who executed and delivered. When we finally sat down together to play, we weren’t sure it would actually be convincing, but playing the game. turned out to be so much fun.
To learn more about the game, visit the Fruit Vendor website. You can also purchase a printed copy of the game through Game Crafter.