Did you know that a wink can be considered an offensive gesture in certain cultures? “Hey” is often a greeting used in the United States, but can be considered a rude way of greeting someone in other languages when a direct translation is used. The last few days I have been wrapping up the little touches around this project and it is amazing to see how few universally accepted signals there are in the world today. I can’t say I am completely shocked as this was a topic of conversation in college, but increasingly difficult to make design decisions to ensure that everyone has a consistent experience regardless of language or cultural differences. Below is a now scrapped image shown after a 3rd connection was made in-game, it is “Hey” 3x in Chinese (traditional) displayed to both participants (language dependent).


But then the challenges popped up, can “Hey” be fun? If so, how does it translate across all cultures and languages? Turns out, it doesn’t translate across all languages very well. In Spanish it translates to “Oye” worst case it can be considered a rude way of opening to someone and best case it is viewed as a happy introduction. “Hey” can be used in rapid succession as well, which can be interpreted as someone being playful or someone pressing for questions. There are too many ways this can be interpreted so let’s scrap “Hey”.

What else is there that translates well? How about “Hello”? Hello translates well, but is it too formal to be viewed as fun by the majority? Using the word Hello in succession usually implies a break in communication as well, which is the complete opposite of the goal here. “Hello” will probably get boring on top of that…it is too predictable and will get stale after a while.

What I have confirmed here was my fear all along before I committed to this task.  How do you develop a mini game which isn’t predictable, provides an intimate experience, simple enough to be understood by people regardless of age, language or culture and also not get boring after a while? There is no single word or expression that can take care of these requirements right now across multiple languages. Even if we all agree to a specific word or expression that can be displayed on the screen. We still have the delivery of the expression itself and how the other person on the opposite screen will interpret it.

This blog entry is rather short compared to my other recent entries, but I wanted to take the time to show an example of the small details I am obsessing over. I am dedicated to creating something useful and will be releasing my scrapped work slowly to show how I have arrived to where I am currently. I have been listening to radiohead lately to get me to that weird space I need to get into at times.

Analyse by Thom Yorke.