When Nintendo announced
that it would be reintroducing Mother 2
) to the West via Wii U's Virtual Console, professional and fan-translator Clyde Mandelin spoke up.
Fan communities are known for their internal gift economies, particularly when dealing with work in a legal gray area, such as unauthorized localization. Because the work is an act of devotion, fans will share their translations and patches around for free, generally with the understanding that they support the official projects where possible.
With Nintendo's announcement, Mandelin saw a way to encourage just that, by offering his fan-translation of Mother 3
to Nintendo for free.
"I realize that localizing a game this size can cost a lot, so if it'll help in even the slightest, I'll gladly offer to let Nintendo use my text translation files for any use at all," Mandelin wrote in his team's Mother 3 fan translation blog
"I'll even edit the files to fit whatever new standards are necessary (content, formatting, memory size, etc.), completely for free. I'll even retranslate everything from scratch if need be. Just whatever it takes to get an official release out."
Mandelin's translations are already in use as an unofficial localization patch, available since 2008. Gamasutra interviewed Mandelin at the time
about his professional and fan translation portfolio.
"We know what we're doing isn't 100 percent legal," Mandelin said of his work in 2008. "But even so, we try our best not to step on companies' toes. In fact, I've received a number of e-mails in the past from professionals inside major game companies giving their thanks, offering to buy me drinks sometime, stuff like that. What we do is appreciated, but in a hidden way, I think."
Perhaps this is an opportunity for a major publisher to more openly acknowledge the contributions of its most dedicated fans.