Paper presentation

There Is More to Gaming That Meets the Eye: When Fan Translation of Games Leads to Language Learning

Sun, Jun 19, 16:00-16:30 Asia/Tokyo

Location: Zoom A

When people think about video gaming, they often picture a gamer playing with one of the multiple genres of video games there exist, including single-player video games or online multiplayer ones. However, there is much more to playing video games that meets the eye. The affordances of digitization have made it easier for gamers to reunite and organize what is known as online affinity groups. Affinity groups are composed of individuals who share some common purpose or interest regarding something or someone they are passionate about as more or less devoted fans. Gamers as fans celebrate their affinity to games and game culture in multiple ways, including language-intensive ways that may be conducive to language learning and development to some extent. One of such ways is fan translation of games, that is, the active interlinguistic translation of games performed by fans. Fan translation can adopt diverse forms but is generally amateur and unpaid. In this talk, I will present three case studies of gamers who, for various reasons, decided to fan translate games for their respective affinity groups and, in one of the cases, for society at large: (1) Link, an English-Catalan fan translator of modern-day games, (2) Selo, an English-Spanish fan translator of retro games, and (3) Luceid, an English-Galician fan translator of retro games, game covers, and cartridges. I will present microanalytic events of their translation process that will try to showcase how these gamers, through fan translation and associated practices like commenting their translations online with fellow gamers, learn language and help others notice interesting interlinguistic features of the languages at play. Fan translation bears implications for language learning. Besides valuing the informal aspects of language learning online activated by fans’ personal investment and identities, unearthing the details of fan translation can help debunk the long-standing myth in formal educational contexts that translation is detrimental to language learning. In that vein, as a language-intensive practice, fan translation can serve as a steppingstone to inspire well-scaffolded initiatives in language education where language learners analyze (and perhaps contribute to) affinity groups and fan practices that run parallel to contemporary digital communication.

  • Boris Vazquez-Calvo

    I am an assistant professor at the School of Education at the University of Málaga, Spain, where I teach undergraduate and graduate courses on foreign language education to pre-service language teachers. I also have a fixed-term secondary appointment to teach a postgraduate course in teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language in a private university in Spain. My research lies at the intersection of language learning, fan practices, and digital culture. I study how young people as fans develop, use and learn literacies, languages, and identities in multiple ways, particularly in online contexts of social interaction. I am also interested in CALL, digital games and their applicability to language education, and new discourse modalities online.


Please do contact me through my ResearchGate profile at bit.ly/boris_rg or at bvazquezcalvo@uma.es if you'd like to leave any comment, explore some collaboration, receive a copy of any of the following publications when there is no pdf attached, or simply have some informal chitty-chat about things we may have in common.

List of publications related to the presentation

With PDF attached

  • Vazquez-Calvo, B. (2021). Guerrilla fan translation, language learning, and metalinguistic discussion in a Catalan-speaking community of gamers. ReCALL, 33(3), 296–313. https://doi.org/10.1017/S095834402000021X
  • Vazquez-Calvo, B. (2018). The Online Ecology of Literacy and Language Practices of a Gamer. Educational Technology & Society, 21(3), 199–212. http://bit.ly/BVC-online-ecology-gamer
  • Vazquez-Calvo, B., Zhang, L. T., Pascual, M., & Cassany, D. (2019). Fan translation of games, anime and fanfiction. Language Learning & Technology, 23(1), 49–71. https://doi.org/10125/44672

No PDF attached

  • Soyoof, A., Reynolds, B. L., Shadiev, R., & Vazquez-Calvo, B. (2022). A mixed-methods study of the incidental acquisition of foreign language vocabulary and healthcare knowledge through serious game play. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 0(0), 1–34. https://doi.org/10.1080/09588221.2021.2021242
  • Soyoof, A., Reynolds, B. L., Vazquez-Calvo, B., & Mclay, K. (2021). Informal digital learning of English (IDLE): a scoping review of what has been done and a look towards what is to come. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 0(0), 1–27. https://doi.org/10.1080/09588221.2021.1936562
  • Vazquez-Calvo, B., Elf, N., & Gewerc, A. (2020). Catalan Teenagers’ Identity, Literacy and Language Practices on YouTube. In M. Freiermuth & N. Zarrinabadi (Eds.), Technology and the Psychology of Second Language Learners and Users (pp. 251–278). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-34212-8_10
  • Vazquez-Calvo, B., Shafirova, L., Zhang, L. T., & Cassany, D. (2019). An overview of multimodal fan translation: fansubbing, fandubbing, fan translation of games and scanlation. In M. del M. Ogea Pozo & F. Rodríguez Rodríguez (Eds.), Insights into audiovisual and comic translation. Changing perspectives on films, comics and video games (pp. 191–213). UCO Press.
  • Vazquez-Calvo, B., Zhang, L.-T., & Shafirova, L. (2022). Language Learning Hashtags on TikTok in Chinese, Italian, and Russian. In L. Klimanova (Ed.), Identity, Multilingualism and CALL: Responding to New Global Realities (pp. 104–134). Equinox Publishing Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1558/equinox.43411
  • Zhang, L.-T., & Vazquez-Calvo, B. (2022). “¿Triste estás? I don’t know nan molla.” ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Online first. https://doi.org/10.1075/itl.21007.zha