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Hideo Kojima isn’t a stranger to inaccurate translation of his tweets, leading to some unwarranted controversy. Kojima’s mistranslated tweets place him under heavy scrutiny for reasons that aren’t entirely up to him, but it isn’t always easy to tell a reliable tweet from a mistranslated one.
Kojima usually tweets both in English and Japanese, but since he isn’t the greatest English speaker, it’s highly likely that he delegates the translation task to someone within his staff, or perhaps it’s down to a representative from a marketing agency. Whoever it is, the task isn’t always handled flawlessly, with Kojima’s mistranslated tweets quickly doing the rounds across the internet and misinforming readers.
We recently witnessed another severe case of Kojima’s mistranslated tweets. His recent tweet defining what a “Hideo Kojima game” means stirred up some controversy, making it sound like he was bragging about his reach and belittling his own staff.
A HIDEO KOJIMA GAME means the declaration of me doing concept, produce, original story, script, setting, game design, casting, dealing, directing, difficulty adjustments, promoting, visual design, editing, supervising the merch. pic.twitter.com/Th7f5S6vpU
— HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) September 22, 2019
The community reacted in a divisive way, with some praising Kojima as one of the hardest working figures in the industry, while others implied that his huge ego was the catalyst. In a subsequent tweet, Kojima said he “doesn’t name this for titles that I don’t make original idea, game design or produce.”
However, the English translation was far from accurate, with a single word twisting the entire meaning of the message. As user TigerCA123 noticed, the original Japanese tweet from Kojima’s Japanese account mentions “involved” (関わる) instead of “doing,” a word that significantly changes the statement and doesn’t diminish the work of his employees. Kojima is known to be involved in most aspects of his games, so the unadulterated message ultimately makes sense, in a non-ego stroking kind of way.
“A HIDEO KOJIMA GAME”とは、企画、プロデュース、原作、脚本、設定、ゲームデザイン、キャスティング、交渉等の川上から、演出、監督、難易度調整、プロモーション、ビジュアル、PV編集、グッズ監修までの川下までにも関わるという宣言。原案やゲームデザイン、プロデュースまでの作品にはつけない。 pic.twitter.com/0aJKoJSYT8
— 小島秀夫 (@Kojima_Hideo) September 22, 2019
The “Hideo Kojima game” branding isn’t anything new; we’ve been submitted to this kind of marketing for several decades, with Sid Meier being one of the most famed developers to prominently feature his name on the cover. It’s a practice that is widely used in movies as well, serving to better establish a connection between popular filmmakers and their works for the mass audience.
Whoever is translating Kojima’s tweets needs to be absolutely certain that the English message accurately represents the original. Otherwise, the fanbase that Kojima is trying so hard to engage with may end up alienated, and they wouldn’t be to blame for it.