Last year, Ryan Oliver – a developer from Nunavut – reached out to us.
While playing Osmos he had noticed an achievement we named “Atanarjuat”, earned for completing the game’s “Chase” stage. This was a nod and a reference to a wonderful Canadian film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, based on an ancient Inuit legend. (yup, we’re Canadian.) This one word sparked a vision in Ryan’s mind. From his first email to us…
… I started thinking how amazing it would be to have a handful of quality games translated into Inuktitut for kids in Nunavut to play in their own language. It can be difficult to feel like you have a role, or a potential future in the gaming industry when no one is speaking your language. I wanted to offer my services and get involved in helping to put together an Inuktitut language version of the game.
Ryan started a not-for-profit company called Pinnguaq (which means “Play” in Inuktitut), and has been developing an app that will teach people the basics of Inuktitut through song. He’s very passionate about these projects:
When you put something in people’s native language, you give them a more personal experience. It kind of makes the world seem a little bit smaller.
While we had previously translated the PC versions of Osmos into German, French, Spanish and Italian, at that point the iOS version was only available in English. We were looking into localizing it, but this was the “kick in the pants” we needed to make it happen. How could we say no?
So we started the technical work, and Ryan organized a crowd-sourced translation project. He put together a “quiz”, inviting Inuktitut speakers to submit suggestions online on how to adapt phrases used in the game. Apparently it was a challenge to translate many of the words in Osmos to Inuktitut (“Antimatter” for instance!), especially in such a way that they’d make sense across the territory. Ryan worked with Tommy Akulukjuk, who provided a full “baseline” translation; but they hoped to receive many different suggestions for proper terminology in order to understand how each dialect may translate a specific term or word, and how it would be pronounced and used universally. They even consulted with elders in the community to verify that the words and phrases chosen would indeed work well in all dialects.
I must admit that as I sit in my less-than-exotic home office writing this, I wish I could have been a fly on the wall in that scene, watching these Nunavut elders gathered around Osmos, weighing the words and phrases chosen to represent their language and culture in the Osmos blobiverse.
Well — that spark in Ryan’s eye is now a reality. We just released Osmos 2.3 for iOS with multi-language support, including… Inuktitut!