Game Lingo – 倒す

During the early-90s Nintendo of America was infamous for adjusting games to fit their strict content guidelines. They changed graphics, dialogue, anything that didn’t fit within their standards.  Thanks to younger American video game developers, raw language and content in games isn’t much of a problem anymore; companies can basically get away with whatever they want as long as they’re willing to suffer the rating. The change shows – Nintendo recently published the first Grand Theft Auto on a Nintendo platform.

Still, Japanese developers have probably been careful with their language choices, which means so should you. 倒す (たおす) frequently appears in games designed for younger children, and it’s a code word for “kill.” The verb literally means “knock down,” but it is most often translated as “defeat.” If you’re translating 龍が如く, of course you should probably be using “kill,” but otherwise (Yugioh, Dragonball, Pokemon, Mario etc.) it should be avoided at all costs, or at least commented on when delivering the translation. “Defeat” is a nice middle ground, and can even be used for 殺す sometimes.

4 thoughts on “Game Lingo – 倒す

  1. I’ve come across that game a lot in video games. I knew it meant to defeat a monster, but I didn’t know that it was intentionally toned down from the word for “kill”. Cool

  2. My version of Pokemon (LeafGreen for the Advance) uses “faint” but I don’t know if it’s the same kanji. And clearly there is no possible way for me to find out.

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