Everyone who has ever played a video game in a language they do not fully understand will instantly recognize the frustration it generates. From poorly translated subtitles to the key character dialogues that make little to no sense, language barriers have quietly but relentlessly hampered the video game experience for many players.
The issue goes beyond just comprehension. Modern gaming is a deeply social pastime, filled with international multiplayer matches and cooperative play. However, the language barrier can often stand in the way of full cooperative engagement. Imagine a scenario where two friends in different countries try to play the same game together but cannot fully enjoy it because the game only outputs audio in one default language. This difficulty becomes even more evident when dealing with older games that may not be easily modified to accommodate multiple languages or a wide array of newer releases.
Sony Interactive Entertainment, always looking to better their gamers' experience, has taken a step towards tackling this issue. In their new patent, US20230310993A1, Sony outlines an audio system and method intended for the PlayStation 5 that could break down these language walls.
In the system detailed in the patent, Sony plans to provide audio for different languages for a single executing instance of the video game. In simpler terms, two players could be playing the same instance of a game, and each could hear the in-game audio in their language of preference. This is a significant step forward from conventional multiplayer games where each user has their own instance of the game, possibly configured to output the language of its user.
In the post-patent world, the tedious task of juggling wasted game updates and language packs to play a game with a friend in another country will be a thing of the past. Instead, you could simply fire up the game, select your language, and enjoy the game alongside your friend, who could be doing the same in a totally different language.
The potential real-world applications for this are vast. Think of the joy of a Spanish-speaking father and his English-speaking son being able to play the same game together, each in their preferred language. Or perhaps the thrill of an international gaming tournament where every participant can hear the game in the language they understand best.
However, we must point out that patents are not a guarantee of a product hitting the market. Sony has yet to announce any plans to implement this patent into the PlayStation 5 system, and it is as yet unclear if the feature will be made available in future updates. But one thing holds true; if this becomes a norm in the gaming world, language barriers might become another monster we leave behind in the digital domain.