Monday, December 16, 2013

Going All-In: a Good Gamble

Reviewed by Karen Tkaczyk

Christos Floros presents "Going All-In"

So there I was, beginning to feel worn out on Saturday afternoon in San Antonio, wondering which session I ought to attend. I chose to support a friend who was giving his first session at an ATA conference. Christos Floros was speaking on one of his areas of subject-matter expertise, translating for the gambling industry. It had an intriguing title: “Going All-In”. I don’t gamble and have no intention of targeting translation clients in that industry but I do live in Nevada where general knowledge on the subject is remarkably useful. And I do like to support people who are brave enough to offer a session at these conferences, especially when, as is often the case for a first-timer, they are stuck on a Saturday afternoon, when audience size begins to tail off.

Christos is a well-established English into Greek translator based in Athens, who works with this wife Catherine Christaki. He began his session by applying gambling concepts to the ATA conference’s session review forms. Using the flip chart, he dashed off a quick explanation of the odds of winning a prize if we completed a form after every session. This was an entertaining and relaxing way to begin. What’s more, he showed us that the odds of winning something if we completed a form for every session were surprisingly low!


Next Christos got down to business and introduced us to the obvious division to keep in mind when thinking about this industry: off-line versus online gambling. He said that the off-line gambling market is limited and hard to break into. For instance, it would include translation of themes and labels on slot machines. Online gambling products and services are where Christos believes freelancers can more easily create a niche. He gave us examples of the big players in the market, many of which are British companies, largely due to the nature of the history of gambling in the UK. Christos showed us examples of how online gambling works and how the multilingual user interfaces operate. He used a fun example of freelancers playing poker together in several different languages to demonstrate this. He also explained the rise of games such as Texas Hold’em, which have only become popular with the advent of Internet gambling.

an example of a website offering localized versions

From there Christos gave us some background into the world gambling market, including trends, and he told us why he likes to ‘go all-in’ in this field: partly personal interest as he’s been a gambler for about 20 years, with exposure to many markets, and partly because the volume is there to make it a worthwhile specialization. Christos lived for years in the UK where the ‘bookmaker’ system prevails and he visits Las Vegas, his favorite vacation destination, regularly. He’s clearly a subject matter expert of the first-order, having practical expertise from those two markets.

Christos then moved into telling us our how we might gain background knowledge on this subject, referring to some popular Hollywood films and books as beginners’ resources. Then he showed us how online gambling sites have an area for practicing, i.e. gambling with play money. He recommends that anyone who wants to get into the field practice there.

Another topic Christos covered was correct use of terminology. This portion resembled any subject matter expert giving us examples of words that anyone but a subject-matter expert would frequently translate incorrectly. He also discussed localization issues related to this market. People with accounts in online gambling websites will routinely receive seasonal specials, weekly offers and the like. Those are usually themed around the home culture’s festivals. As a localizer Christos must decide whether to attempt to transfer a concept or whether to completely rewrite and make the special offer about something entirely different. He has established customer relationships over time so he knows the degrees of freedom he has for each client.

The visuals in Christos’ session were top-notch: they were slides that added to the comfortable, conversational presentation that he gave, that were full of light-hearted jokes and pleasant cultural touches. I think Christos did a great job helping attendees learn how to get started in this field.

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