Localizing Adult Content

Adult content – these two short words carry a lot of impact. On hearing this phrase, most people will immediately associate a product with sexual or violent themes. It is certainly something of a taboo topic, but it needn’t result in all mention of ‘adult content’ being relegated to the top shelves, or dark corners in video stores.



Most gamers will have encountered titles that feature physical violence, swear words, or sexual references. There is an enormous market for these types of products, and approaching each target audience in a tone that is the most appealing to them is vitally important.



Hot or Hot? Estoy Caliente/Tengo Calor?

When localizing adult content, be it film, gaming, or website translation, the first thing that needs to be considered is what would work for your specific market. The style and tone of adult content in the USA would differ widely from that of Japan for example (where anime and manga imagery play a large part in cultural identity), with less emphasis on the ‘cute’.

Using the correct terminology for each language and region is also vitally important in conveying the correct meaning of content. Translation should never be a literal process. In English for example, ‘I’m excited’ can mean you are excited for any number of reasons, including being sexually aroused. This could cause problems in Spanish, where two different variants are used to explicitly explain the difference in meaning:
‘Estoy excitado’ (implying sexual arousal) and ‘Estoy entusiasmado’ (implying enthusiasm).

Marilyn Monroe

A notable example of these localization differences within the film industry can be seen in the title of the 1950s movie classic Some Like It Hot. A literal translation of the title was considered far too sexual for Spanish speaking audiences and, as a result, was changed to ‘Con faldas y a lo loco’ (‘With Skirts and Crazy’) to save the audiences blushes.

There are also notable differences between the Spanish used in Spain and the Spanish used in South America. For example, the word ‘pegar’ means ‘to hit’ in Spain, but has various different meanings in South America, depending on the country, including ‘to cheat’.

If you use the wrong phrase, the meaning may be lost, misinterpreted, or could even cause offence – things that can all be easily avoided if accurate product localization has taken place.


Society is increasingly pushing the boundaries of what is considered suitable and appropriate content, and just like the music and film industries, the video game industry is affected by this. Video games have always been a hot topic in relation to featured content, and when it comes to adult content, there has been much debate about the effects on the mind of gamers. This is most notable in relation to younger gamers, and video game age rating procedures have been put in place to ease parental and societal concerns.

Enter the Dragon

When the localization  process begins, adult content needs to be translated and tested in a professional manner, just the same as localizing any other product. It’s also vitally important to work with a team of professionals who are comfortable working on a project that contains adult content.  There may be consistency issues if certain team members depart during the localization process as a result of discomfort with working with adult content. If the product contains extreme themes (whether blood/gore, or sexual explicit content), the team in place working on the project needs to be fully aware of the content they will be working with. Part of this process involves spending time researching the product beforehand to know the ins and outs of what is being portrayed. Translators need to fully immerse themselves in the content during the project, resulting in the most accurate and convincing translation in the final localized product.  This is another reason why a dedicated, educated team is vitally important when working with adult content. The same standard workflow procedures also apply, regardless of sexual or violent scenes/themes – translation, query process, thorough proofreading, and QA testing. Glossaries are also important for consistency – notably for style and tone of voice, as well as guidance on length restrictions, variables, hardware/software specifications, and formatting.

Your Place or Mine?

There clearly is a demand for adult content, so developers and writers create stories, dialogues, and imagery that work within the confines of age restriction regulations. This means that players who want to enjoy sexual content, or want to roll over enemies with tanks (while stemming off a shuffling zombie attack), deserve to enjoy a product that is just right for them and is well localized. For example, adult content that is localized by a team accustomed to translating children’s games is likely to sound unnatural and result in out-of-context language.

At MO Group International, our Localization department works on  a diverse number of projects – MMO games, Casual Games, technical translation, website localization, medical device translation  and more – and our teams put an emphasis on assigning work according to preference, expertise and aptitude. Adult content? We’ve got it covered.

Now where did I leave my flame thrower…?

Contact us today to find out how we can provide you with suitable localization of your content.

James Norman, English Copywriter, MO Group International

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *