Breaking In - Celine Bolduc
The sun never sets on the Bungie Community. We’ve been all around the world to talk to ravenous gamers who speak the universal language of action and adventure. Over the years, it has occurred to us that we could do a better job of speaking their languages here at home. Our Localization team is working very hard to make sure that Bungie.net is a tasty place for many native tongues. To welcome the French to that party, we employ the talents of this nice lady.
Who are you, and what do you do at Bungie?
CB: My name is Céline Bolduc and I am the French Localization Editor. As a member of the localization team, my job consists of reviewing the French translation for the game, as well as our social networks, Bungie.net, and the Bungie Mobile app.
Bon jour! How will your contributions impact the experience of the people who play Destiny?
CB: My job is to make it possible for French-speaking players to get the full Destiny experience in their very own language. Being able to physically play the game, albeit the most important thing, is not everything to the player. You also need to have access to information, whether it’s about the game itself or where your next adventure will take you. Unless you speak French, chances are you’ll never get to see the results of my hard work.
There will be a lot of content revolving around this overall experience of playing Destiny. Are you translating all of it yourself?
CB: The translators are doing an amazing job with the game. My job is to make sure that when we put all the pieces of the puzzle together, the picture is still as breathtaking as the original, even if you don’t know a single world of English.
Being immersed in all that language must take a toll. What do you do to unwind once the day is done?
CB: You would think that after spending a day reading, reviewing, and translating, the very last thing I want to do when I get home is to read, but reading is on top of my list of the things I couldn’t live without. A book is the best travelling companion. It can slow down or speed up time. It will expand the universe beyond our dimension, or make it so small it can fit inside your pocket. With a book, the possibilities are infinite.
Your passion for prose runs deep. Have you always felt such a strong connection with the written word?
CB: When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer. I guess Bungie offers me the best of both worlds: I get to work on a work of art/piece of fiction, and give life to other people’s words. It’s pretty awesome.
What was your education? What did you learn that you still use today?
CB: In high school, I realized that my mind was more skilled at analyzing things than creating. I decided I wanted to go into politics so I could, you know, make the world a better place. I got a degree in human sciences in a program that focused on European politics and economics. Although I loved it, I realized that I wasn’t passionate about it. Instead, I chose to get my bachelor’s degree in Literacy Studies. I majored in popular literature, with a minor in linguistics. I started work on a Masters in science fiction literature, but never got to publish my thesis. Destiny being a marvelous monster of science fiction and fantasy, I still use most of what I learned in school.
Those sound like fun things to study, but how do you put that body of learning to work after you walk out of the classroom?
CB: I was always fascinated by languages and how they evolved. I went to a school where French, English and Spanish were mandatory. The mechanics of language really got me hooked. To understand how languages work as a whole was one of the most empowering things in life. Later, I went on and studied Latin, Russian, Finnish, Polish, German, Swedish, and Norwegian.
I didn’t master all of these languages, but my understanding of their structure is what landed me my first job as a freelance proofreader and junior translator at an important accounting firm in Montreal. My linguistic skills helped me to get my foot in the door. From there, I quickly got promoted to assistant project coordinator for the linguistic department. There, I got to learn from the best about project coordination, deadline management, and the whole translation process. Understanding a project from the beginning to its end, with all the crazy steps in between, is a considerable asset to have in a game localization environment.
There is a deep emotional valley between accounting and making games. How did you traverse it?
CB: When I applied to Bungie, I was still living in Montreal. To make my application stand out from all the others, I worked really hard on my cover letter. I explained why I thought I was the best candidate for the job, and I excelled at my tests. I also followed up in a very persistent way. I guess it paid out, in the end.
Persistence begs for more persistence, when it comes to our recruitment process. Your reward for getting our attention was a Bungie job interview. Those things can last all day. What was the hardest part of your own personal ordeal?
CB: Trying to make a good impression by providing smart and thoughtful answers to some very hard questions that were not all related to localization and or translation, all while being jetlagged.
No, seriously. It was absolutely surreal. I went from not knowing what I wanted to do with my professional life to sitting for a day of interviews. This all happened in less than a month. I really didn’t want to mess things up. It was so unexpected that I had a hard time keeping in mind that this was really happening. Less than 36 hours later, I was back home, asking myself what the heck had just happened.
It happened, alright. You have a mountain of translation as proof of your success, demanding even more persistence. What makes reaching the summit of that mountain worth the climb?
CB: Having the chance to work with hundreds of super smart people, whose goal is all the same: to create an amazing game. To see all that grey matter getting converted into something so awesome, so concrete, is absolutely amazing. Such work leads to open discussions and crazy brainstorm sessions where everybody gets to pitch in. The opportunity to learn about everything here is astonishing. And, so is the opportunity to not take ourselves so seriously and to goof around all the while giving our very best at what we do.
Is there anything we do to make the ascent seem a little less steep?
CB: The general ambiance in the studio makes it a really nice place to be, even when you are trying to meet a tight deadline. People here are so focused on creating something great that even when you are under a truckload of pressure, there is always something to remind you how lucky you are to be here. It could be a counter full of bagels on Friday morning, or a group of people gathering together in the arcade room on the first floor to play some old-school games.
Aside from being multi-lingual (which is inconceivable to most Americans), what is the biggest challenge associated with what you do at Bungie?
CB: Knowing that I’m generally the last barrier between us and the rest of the world can be pretty stressful. It’s nice to know that I usually have the last word on a translation, but it also means that, if I make a mistake, there’s no net to catch me. I’m only human, but I would hate to deceive the French community.
We don’t want to deceive them either. They were way too nice to us at Paris Games Week. Have you had a moment that reassured you that you were making them happy?
CB: A few months ago, right after the localized version of Bungie.net was launched, I received an email from DeeJ. [Editor’s note: Holy crap, that’s me!]
If I remember correctly, the title consisted of a simple question mark. The contents were a message we had received from a member of the French community. The user was expressing his joy of being able to get all the information he was craving on Bungie.net in his native language. After the tremendous amount of work the localization of Bungie.net had required, it was amazing to get such a positive, heartfelt feedback from an active member of the community.
It seems odd to ask this, given the staggering volume of languages you’ve studied, but we should never really reach the peak of our potential at Bungie. What’s your plan for aspiring to loftier and loftier goals?
CB: I do everything I can to stay on top of my game. It’s been a while since I was surrounded by books and encyclopedias, reading everything science and science-fiction for my master’s thesis. With Destiny, I’m back at it again to ensure that the game makes a strong impact on the French culture. I’m revisiting the science-fiction and fantasy classics, as well as a lot of scientific literature related to the newest discoveries. I want to make sure that, when a word is being used in Destiny, it’s being used properly, with respect to its past history, as well as its history to come.
What recommendations would you make to people who want to work in this industry?
CB: Make sure that you are fully committed to what comes with a job in this industry. And to work hard. And then, to work harder. And, to never give up. It will be hard. It will require some sacrifices. But the rewards are very much worth it. If that’s really what you want, and if you truly believe that you have something to offer to the industry, and then do not give up and go for it. You never know where your dream can take you. Mine took me all the way here, and I wouldn’t dream of being anywhere else.
And there we have it. The Editor has become the Edited. My work here is done, but Celine’s task has no end in sight. We have a lot of stories to tell in Destiny, and we intend to tell all those stories to people who speak all kinds of languages, including French. If the languages you speak are rooted more in math or art, we still need people like you. The role model you seek is more likely in the Breaking In archive.