What I have learned in the past year working as a mobile game translator and tester:

1)      Nobody understands a game at first go.

2)      Nobody understands a game until they play the whole tutorial.

3)      Don’t believe them if they tell you they do.

4)      Always check your translations.

5)      Spell check.

6)      Don’t trust spell check.

7)      Check your translations again.

8)      Don’t joke about the games with game developers.

9)      When you are with game developers, tell them you especially enjoyed the part they worked on (eg. 3D art, technical drawing etc.). They are artists that deserve acknowledgment.

10)   Never assume that the bug you wrote about in the database is easily understandable. Use short sentences in the bug database.

11)   Never assume that the codes you use in your skype messages are difficult to understand. Especially when you are surrounded by geeks who make a living using codes.

12)   Go for another free cocktail when the boss thanks all departments except the translation division at the annual Christmas party.

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Joy: the balance between computer parts and body parts

Being able to change the ram of a laptop when you are considered to be computer illiterate by your tech savvy husband. That is real joy with a touch of satisfaction and a pinch of in your face.

PS: Dear “computer illiterate” reader, if you ever plan to keep secret notes from a tech savvy spouse, keep them old school, on pieces of paper and not on some weird file on your computer. These people enjoy fooling around longer in the most meaningless parts of computers than on parts of your body scientifically proven to bring great joy to your relationship…

Note for spouse: I love you hubby! Of course I keep no secrets from you and you are great with all parts, whether animate or inanimate and you should have read that word document when I asked you if you would be OK with my blogging it …

No More Wondering

Weekly Writing Challenge: Ghosts of December 23rds Past

I had gotten home after a seven hour flight to find a bombardment of e-mails from family and friends basically asking if I was OK.

I was living in the Arabian Peninsula, working as a flight attendant, and I had just returned from a one-week layover in Singapore and the Cebu Island in the Philippines. On Christmas Eve, I was at the hotel lobby in Cebu, sipping eggnog with the cabin crew from different parts of the world. During the four days of the layover we got to spend in Cebu, we had taken a river cruise where I watched kids jump into the river from branches on huge trees, where the water seemed brown with mud yet reassuringly clear and inviting, where it was impossible to see what was next on our route due to the dense foliage, where despite the hot and humid weather, the voyage felt relaxing with a soft breeze caressing my fingers sweetened with mangoes and papaya.

The next day, we went to the city center and visited a church with Hispanic names inherited during the Spanish colonization. I was astounded to see a place of worship with no glass on its windows. That is when I realized that this place was warm throughout the year and that nature was not an enemy. The people were in peace with nature. They were friendly welcoming people, ready to accept and deal with whatever the world might surprise them with.

When we went to higher lands, to a restaurant on a mountain, I had a chance to watch trees that smelled of exotic tastes I had never tried in my home country swaying lightly under my feet as I sat at the terrace of this small secret eatery and savored the delicious food served by the delightful staff. While watching the tree tops and the ocean further down the island I thought of the breeze on hot summer days when I was a child. The days when I could lie down in a garden and hear ants passing through the grass staring deep into my eyes trying to figure out if I am a living being or a rock it has to walk around.

On the last day, on our way back to the hotel I got a chance to peek at the lives led in between the towering trees. Some were residing in between walls made of what seemed like tin plates. Imagining myself living in one of these homes, I could hear flies buzzing outside my bedroom. I could feel the wind through the cracks on the tin plates. Unlike my life in major city centers constricted by cement structures, I could still have a bond with nature, making use of the plants I was seeing for the first time to feed as well as heal myself. Life there invoked peace of mind in me and helped me befriend the wind.

At home, when the anxious mails greeted me on my screen, I found out that Sri Lanka and Maldives had been hit by a tsunami wave caused by a quake in the Indian Ocean. These were two countries I had flown to the week before. Singapore and the Philippines had been spared from the major disaster of 2004 but it was recorded as one of the greatest disasters in human history.

A few days ago, I found myself thinking about the Christmas that had left such serene memories and the news of misery that had followed afterwards on lands nearby. It made me wonder about how the people of Cebu were spending their Christmas when they had been hit by a terrible typhoon only two months ago. I wondered how many had survived the typhoon in their tin homes and among the survivors, how many were able to enjoy their Christmas beverages. I wondered about the soft breeze in Cebu that had carried me to moments of my childhood devoid of any concern and asked myself how many had to feel the wind in their fingers because they had no home to go to and how many had to chase away flies as they had to sleep without a shelter. I wondered about what I could do but to wonder and asked myself what could be done if all stopped wondering and started acting.

Here is a chance to act: World Food Programme

Driverless Bus 3: The Shortcut

How did we get to the crater that used to be the residential city center from the bus? What happened a few months ago?

When the bus broke, the stranger and I looked at each other then towards the city lights in the distance.

“I know a shortcut,” he said.

When I was younger, I had always been warned against shortcuts, especially against people who knew shortcuts. Worst were men who knew shortcuts and had candy to offer. He knew a shortcut and he was company on a deserted road. The worst type of stranger but it was one of those moments when you follow anyone who offers some comfort though all your background experience, all the accumulated knowledge you have until that moment, your wisdom, tells you otherwise.

And thus, I followed him away from the road towards the “shortcut”.

Enlightened by Porn

When I was a kid, I searched the whole house to find my adoption documents. Instead, I found a porn stash. Unaware of the authors’ gender, reading the stories in these magazines, I thought regardless of the sex of a person, it would be possible to tell if they are turned on through a bulge on the pants.

The lessons I derived from this experience: Firstly, I did not know much about anatomy. Secondly, I was not adopted. Thirdly, for a long time I could not tell the link between these magazines and the story about x and y chromosomes my mother had told me to explain where babies come from but I still somehow knew that I had to keep my discovery a secret. Therefore, as clueless as I was, I must have been aware of some taboos. Lastly, I thought that those magazines were for women as well as for men. That is why I thought many of the authors were women. I am glad that there is a feminist movement to own the pornographic media now.

A final note for my mother: Mum, you should be proud. Although it took me a while to get the “where babies come from” talk, you have raised a feminist who likes to read and can do detailed research without leaving behind any evidence. 🙂

Driverless Bus 2: Crying Man

“It’s been months since someone called me dad.”

I heard a crying man mutter at the abandoned city center, kneeling by a deep crater on the ground where it had all started.

Had it been a few months earlier, had I not held the cold dusty hand I had found under the relics of the house where I grew up, and seen the woman who had catered for my every need, who had always held my hand with greatest affection, had I not seen her eyes half shut blood oozing from ears; had I not watched my boyfriend, the man who had brought hope and happiness to me, an escape from every stinging loss I would feel trying to make it through the day, had I not watched him disappear as a crater similar to the one the man was kneeling by opened on one of the busiest streets, I could have empathized with him. I could have knelt by him and cried with him for his loss with greatest sympathy, but the energy I needed to mourn was consumed. I had none left for compassion.

Thus, I followed a stranger I had met a few months ago by a bus and looked away from the crying lonely man…