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Rose

Subtitles in games with text-based dialogue

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It doesn't make a lot of sense to me to see a game with subtitles set to n/a for when all of the dialogue is text-based.

Say I'm hearing impaired or I want to play a game at work but remain aware of the real world around me, or have any other reason to not want to hear any dialogue - I may use the wiki to look for games that have subtitles. If we had a list for such games, I would naturally sort to highlight the ones set to true, not something as obscure as n/a. You may convince me otherwise, but the real question is whether it would be as apparent to a newcomer.

Besides, by dictionary definition subtitles do not have to accompany any voiced dialogue. One of the two Merriam-Webster definitions for subtitle is

Quote

: a printed statement or fragment of dialogue appearing on the screen between the scenes of a silent motion picture or appearing as a translation at the bottom of the screen during the scenes of a motion picture or television show in a foreign language

 

 

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The Editing Guide does state that for all text-based games or when speech isn't a thing, it should be set to n/a.

That row covers whether an option to enable subtitles exists or not for spoken dialogue, and not whether the dialogue itself is only present in text or audio format.

If there is no option to enable subtitles for cutscenes/spoken dialogue, etc, it should be set to false. If there is an option to enable it, it should be set to true. If there are cutscenes or spoken dialogue and subtitles are always present for those, it should be set to always on. If there are no cutscenes or spoken dialogue, etc, in the game it should be set to n/a since the row isn't applicable to those games.

That parameter is filled out according to this right now:

  • true - 2965 games
  • false - 1314 games
  • always on - 18 games
  • n/a - 16756 games
  • unknown - 16531 games

 

For hearing impaired players, the Closed Captions row is more relevant since that specifically covers if audio cues etc are covered by closed captions or not.

That parameter is filled out according to this right now:

  • true - 275 games == An option to enable closed captions are available.
  • false - 4396 games == The game does not include an option to enable closed caption
  • always on - 0 games == The game always shows closed captions
  • n/a - 1039 games == The game does not feature any audio cues etc that needs closed captions.
  • unknown - 32125 games == Unclear whether the game includes closed captions or not.

 

I don't agree with the proposal of converting all current n/a 16756 subtitles games into "true" since that tells me nothing from the standpoint of whether subtitles are available for spoken dialogue or not, which that parameter was created to keep track of. The current implementation allows us to separate games where spoken audio isn't present (n/a), and games where they are present, and an option to enable subtitles for them (true) is available, or always forced (always on), or not present at all (false).

The alternative would see a lot of games reclassified as e.g. limited or similar if the game did include text-based conversation, but also featured cutscenes etc without subtitles. That would also introduce a whole 'nother issue of when to use true vs. limited vs. false.

  • Is a game with primarily text-based conversation but also featured unsubtitled cutscenes here and there true, limited, or false ? How would each option relate to hearing impaired players?

 

The underlying "confusion" -- of which I am sorta questionable if one even exist, given how common the meaning of "not applicable" is, and how Closed Captions exists for the sole express purpose of being helpful to hearing impaired players -- is better solved through alternative means, such as any or all of the below:

  • Implement abbr clarifications to all current rows in the templates. This work is ongoing.
    • Rename the property to "subtitles for spoken audio" or something similar to better portray what it covers.
  • Add a default note to the row when the parameter is set to n/a.
    • To mirror the Editing Guide, it would be something alike to "This game does not feature spoken speech that needs subtitles at all."
  • Create a proper list of games for hearing impaired players that accounts for both the subtitles and closed captions parameters, and includes games with true, always on, n/a, as well as hackable values.

 

As discovered on the Discord yesterday, there's a slight mismatch in the Editing Guide but it mostly relates to the use of "subtitles" in the localization section, and not the audio settings template, as the most common source of that section (Steam) throws all non-interface text under that label, but that is mostly separate from the parameter discussed in this thread.

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It certainly wouldn't be right to just convert the n/a to true. I'm not sure if this is what you referred to on Discord, but there are editors that take n/a as "not available", which would mean a large number of those pages may need to have it set to false. As with the new "always on" and "limited" options, the way to go would be to just revisit the pages or replay the games to make adjustments.

Moreover, this incorrect understanding of the meaning behind n/a and thus the presumably large amount of articles being misleading would make it of little use in a list of games for hearing-impaired players.

On the numbers, I would assume the number of games where AA or Vsync is set to true is even larger than 16756, and it's unknown how many of those should be at "always on" or "limited" but the number alone didn't get in the way of implementing the new properties, so I don't think it should be used as an argument against recommending to set subtitles to true for text-based games. As it stands now, the n/a property for text-based games is almost always accompanied with a note to actually explain what it means which suggests there's something wrong with its application, so I don't see the less common scenario of a primarily text-based game with some voiced dialogue as an obstacle - it can be explained with a note too.

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40 minutes ago, Rose said:

I'm not sure if this is what you referred to on Discord, but there are editors that take n/a as "not available", which would mean a large number of those pages may need to have it set to false.

It’s not, and I am not aware of any of those editors myself. N/A have never meant that a option isn’t available at all in the context of settings, as that have always been the meaning of “false”.

None the less, both the ongoing work with adding abbr tags to each row as well as the rest of the stuff I’ve mentioned clears that misunderstanding up as well, for both readers and editors.

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Apologies for bumping an old topic but as a hearing impaired gamer I find attempting to contribute to editing the Audio / Localization sections incredibly frustrating and this thread is still more relevant than ever. The editing guide seems highly contradictory in recommending simultaneously both "n/a" under Audio Settings and "True" under Localization settings for games that have text-only speech (no spoken voice), eg, a point & click adventure on the grounds that "if audio is removed then a subtitle stops being a subtitle". Aside from the fact literally everyone thinks "subtitles are non-applicable to this game" means games completely devoid of any conversation & story (eg, puzzle games like Solitaire, Minesweeper, Lemmings, Chess, etc, where the nature of the game-play means there's simply nothing there to subtitle), what's worse is the guide recommending "n/a" for Audio-Subtitle (for games with subtitles) seems to lead to some games incorrectly tagged under Localization.

Eg, Don't Escape 4 Days To Survive has "unknown" for Audio-Subtitle, but also "n/a" under individual Localizations, suggesting that existing editors already leave subtitle under Audio blank in many games (because they don't see the point in duplicating what's already in plain sight in the full Localization section underneath), but also that the editing guidelines are accidentally encouraging people into putting the wrong thing in the wrong section. And giving the false impression that the game is somehow "conversation-less".

...On top of that the List of Games That Support Subtitles / Closed Captioning are both broken...
https://www.pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/List_of_games_that_support_subtitles
https://www.pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/List_of_games_that_support_closed_captioning

...And on top of that, the Sample Article is also contradictory: "This game has subtitles but subtitles are not applicable to this game" makes absolutely zero sense to everyone I've shown it to as a description of anything meaningful rather than "The Correct Way Of Ticking A Box (tm)"...

I kinda "get" the attempted logic behind "well if there's no spoken speech, then technically what's shown instead isn't a 'subtitle' it's just text", but most hearing impaired gamers in reality specifically search for "true" for subtitle / CC / text under Localization and care far more about whether it's likely to be playable than have to do multiple repeat searches (one for n/a, one for True, maybe even yet another for forced on, then repeat twice over under two different sections (Audio-Subtitles vs Localization-Sub) due to an arbitrary distinction of "someone saying something in text in a game without spoken audio vs subtitles for games with spoken audio are two completely different things". It seems better to do away with unnecessarily duplicated subtitles settings under Audio and just keep a simple list UI / Audio / Text where the same information is conveyed far more clearly as to who can find the game playable or not, with additional advanced information (eg, "missing in some cutscenes" or "forced on") being the stuff the "Notes" section was invented for?

tl:dr: It's an accessibility nightmare when the combination of no working links to a list of games with subtitles / CC, plus guidelines that lead to contradictory tagging (even in the sample article) make it far harder for disabled gamers to find the answer to what should be a very simple yes / no question of "Is this game going to be playable to me without audio?". The above example Don't Escape 4 Days To Survive should clearly convey the information "This game has UI & subtitles in English, German and Polish, but no spoken audio" in one simple box, just like it does on Steam & GOG without the added confusion of "well it has subtitles in place of speech... but we don't call them subtitles because of lack of spoken audio... sort of..."

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The guidelines should be changed to no longer mention or recommend n/a. Over time, the existing coverage of games featuring the n/a state will get updated accordingly, whereas new coverage will be more likely to rely on the new guidelines from the start.

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3 hours ago, ab5000 said:

The editing guide seems highly contradictory in recommending simultaneously both "n/a" under Audio Settings and "True" under Localization settings for games that have text-only speech (no spoken voice)

Can you quote the relevant parts of the editing guide you find contradictory? I'm having problems finding just what parts are contradictory of how both handles their respective subtitles row:

Editing guide on subtitles in the Audio table:

> Applies for games with spoken dialogue. If subtitles are always shown without an option, set this field to always on. For games with no speech or text-only dialogue, set this field to n/a.

Editing guide on subtitles in the Localization table:

> The subtitles and/or closed captions for the game are localized to this language. More common to find than spoken audio localizations.
> If a game has no speech, gibberish for speech (single word remarks fall into this category), nor any closed caption option, set the field to n/a.

 

3 hours ago, ab5000 said:

...On top of that the List of Games That Support Subtitles / Closed Captioning are both broken...
https://www.pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/List_of_games_that_support_subtitles
https://www.pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/List_of_games_that_support_closed_captioning

These are not broken -- they are merely two out of many lists that have yet to be created.

 

4 hours ago, ab5000 said:

...And on top of that, the Sample Article is also contradictory: "This game has subtitles but subtitles are not applicable to this game" makes absolutely zero sense to everyone I've shown it to as a description of anything meaningful rather than "The Correct Way Of Ticking A Box (tm)"...

This is a minor oversight probably caused by, as everything else, minor changes over the years.

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2 hours ago, Aemony said:

Can you quote the relevant parts of the editing guide you find contradictory? I'm having problems finding just what parts are contradictory of how both handles their respective subtitles row:

Editing guide on subtitles in the Audio table:

> Applies for games with spoken dialogue. If subtitles are always shown without an option, set this field to always on. For games with no speech or text-only dialogue, set this field to n/a.

Editing guide on subtitles in the Localization table:

> The subtitles and/or closed captions for the game are localized to this language. More common to find than spoken audio localizations.
> If a game has no speech, gibberish for speech (single word remarks fall into this category), nor any closed caption option, set the field to n/a.

I could well be misreading "games with no speech or text-only dialogue" as being "games with no speech or (games with text-only dialogue)", but if so then quite a few other people here seem to be doing the same as I've seen more than a few mis-tagged titles based on that. Perhaps it could be better clarified as "For games with no in-game dialogue..."? As an example of another incorrectly tagged game, Ben There Dan That = a game with no speech track, just always-on text-only subtitles, yet both Audio & Localization subtitle sections are tagged as N/A. Clearly it has English subtitles. And the Table Legend Guidelines description for N/A ("This concept does not apply to this type of game") makes N/A an incorrect choice as the concept of requiring in-game text to describe speech due to a lack of an audio track is precisely what the concept of a "subtitle" is. The "N/A" description as you described for Localization seems accurate for dialogue-less games, but the way it's worded under Audio and the fact it needs to be filled in twice under two different sections (with two different values depending on how you read the "or") leading some to copy / paste seems to be what's causing a lot of confusion to the extent some games end up giving the exact opposite information of what the subtitle tables on Steam & GOG do.

In fact I've always found the two subtitles & closed captions settings in "Audio" completely redundant as immediately below you've got a table spelling out the same information in less vague forum (eg, maybe CC is only for one language and not another) and am left wondering how much less confusion there would be if all subtitle / CC information was included in just one Localization section under one definition instead of having half of the same info split across two separate sections? All the Subtitle & CC fields under Audio have really said is "scroll down 4 lines", and there seems to be no equivalent duplication in other sections, eg, "DRM-Free version available?" 4 lines above the "Availability" section showing the same info wouldn't add anything.

There's got to be some underlying reason why half the "this game has subtitles but no speech track" games here are arbitrarily tagged as "n/a" and the other half more accurately as "true" for games that have subtitles in plain sight in the screenshots on GOG / Steam stores. The amount of incorrect "N/A" subtitle tagging though seems far out of proportion to say rare 64 vs 32 bit .EXE mistakes or mislabelled Ultrawide support. Anyway "Accessibility related stuff works best when kept as simple as possible under one section" is just a bit of feedback from someone who's been a long-time lurker to the site, not a personal attack on anyone / anything here.

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6 hours ago, ab5000 said:

As an example of another incorrectly tagged game, Ben There Dan That = a game with no speech track, just always-on text-only subtitles, yet both Audio & Localization subtitle sections are tagged as N/A.

Just to be clear: based on the editing guide as it is now, this isn't actually incorrect though as n/a is used correctly on that page. The game has no spoken audio -- there's therefor nothing that needs subtitling and so both rows are set as not applicable.

PCGW currently defines subtitles as being solely for spoken dialogue and so it simply isn't applicable for non-spoken dialogue (which is handled through the UI flag).

  • I have forgotten the details, but I believe this definition was arrived to because we keep track of the in-game setting of subtitles as well -- it was basically a definition made to get localization and audio tables in line with one another so that we didn't create scenarios where the localization table would say that subtitles were "true" while the audio table (which tracks in-game settings) would say that an in-game setting for subtitles were not applicable as there's no spoken audio that needed subtitles to begin with.

 

 

6 hours ago, ab5000 said:

In fact I've always found the two subtitles & closed captions settings in "Audio" completely redundant

It is because they technically track separate things, while (as with everything else) being the result of years of micro-changes etc that have slowly but steadily changed their purpose and use.

The audio table rows track whether an in-game setting actually exists for controlling subtitles (for spoken dialogue) or closed captions, whereas the localization table tracks whether a specific language has available subtitles or not. Related properties, but not identical.

  • There's a separate but related discussion about how we can improve the state of the tables, as some rows track "settings available" while others track "feature support" (again: similar, but not identical).

"Closed captions" though currently have even less of a counterpart in the localization table, as that row solely tracks whether closed caption descriptions for audio effects etc are available or not in the game. If we were to remove that row we would effectively remove the ability to identify games with additional closed captions available as an accessibility option for hearing-impaired players from those with merely regular subtitles but without closed captions.

  • As I understand it, typically speaking closed captions isn't tied to a single language or so -- if the game have closed captions then it is generally supported by all localized subtitles.

Removing the two rows in the Audio table would result in the following:

  • PCGW loses the ability to keep track of how subtitle/closed captions can be controlled through the settings of the game.
    • Whether they can be controlled separately, is always enforced, or not applicable at all (there's no spoken audio that needs subtitling, as per PCGW's current definition).
    • This can, in parts, be counteracted by allowing these various states through the localization table, but then we're attempting to convey separately related but not identical concepts such as subtitles, closed captions, hackable official/fan-made localizations into a single 'hackable, always on, true, false' state.
      • While also instead of making a single change to change the overarching state of subtitle/closed caption related settings, the editor would have to make changes to every single localization row across all languages while also trying to adhere to existing stuff such as version-exclusive localization and whatnot that might be present.
  • PCGW also loses the ability to separate closed caption-enabled titles from merely subtitle-enabled titles.
    • This should be self-explanatory, really, and should be seen as major lose of information for both regular players as well as hearing-impaired players.

 

6 hours ago, ab5000 said:

There's got to be some underlying reason why half the "this game has subtitles but no speech track" games here are arbitrarily tagged as "n/a" and the other half more accurately as "true" for games that have subtitles in plain sight in the screenshots on GOG / Steam stores.

Welcome to the world of wiki editing and not clearly defined requirements. PCGW is technically the harder one here with our current definitions, whereas Steam/GOG doesn't actually care in terms of how developers label and make use of those parameters, which is why devs can define them however they want which causes examples of basically any combination you can think of.

 

---

 

Changing over n/a to true / limited is doable but creates scenarios, some of which I touched upon earlier:

  • If we only change it in the localization table and not the audio table we create a situation where localized subtitles can be set to true while audio table subtitles (keeps track of whether an in-game option for controlling subtitles is available etc) can be set to n/a (not applicable, as the game has no spoken audio that needs subtitling).
  • If we change it in both locations PCGW would suddenly state that thousands of games that have no in-game subtitle option (because there's no need for one) suddenly has one, and can be both enabled or disabled (that's what 'true' means in this context after all).
    • This is possibly fixable by enforcing the newer 'always on' state for the audio table in scenarios where no spoken audio exists (though that is sure to create its own share of confusion -- "Why does the row say it's 'always on' when there's no actual subtitles in the game?" ).
  • If we change it in the localization table but then removes the audio table row for subtitles then we lose information whether subtitles are always enforced, limited, or hackable along with notes regarding that option.
    • If we were to also remove the closed caption row in the audio table we'd lose additional information as touched upon earlier.

 

There is no easy solution here as I see it -- localization table and audio table tracks related but ultimately separate things, and PCGW have done almost everything we can to minimize confusion. Any chance implemented would see data get lost in the translation, limit what editors can convey through the current settings, or create confusion elsewhere.

 

I'm not sure which (if any) potential solution I prefer so far over the current status quo, but the potential solution I drift towards would probably be changing the localization table (n/a > true) while removing the subtitles row in the audio table entirely but retaining the closed caption row (I really don't see that row get removed due to its relevance where applicable). We would still lose information, and basically assume users would just have to content with the information exposed by the localization table, but overall the current confusion would be resolved (though new confusion might arrive elsewhere -- can't tell atm) while we would still track closed caption and be able to list games that actually have additional accessibility for hearing-impaired players.

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For games with no speech or text-only dialogue, set this field to n/a.

No information would be lost from removing this sentence from the guidelines. Otherwise it may be best to globally change the "Subtitles" field to "Subtitles setting" for more consistency with the current guidelines until there is a more drastic and fruitful change ready to go live.

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4 hours ago, Rose said:

No information would be lost from removing this sentence from the guidelines.

This would just restore the previous status quo: due to lack of clear guidelines we would create scenarios where Audio > Subtitles and Localization > Subtitles didn't match each others -- it would basically restore the previous confusion that we solved by enforcing n/a in the first place.

Then we would revisit this issue months/years down the line and most likely reimplementing the same solution (have the guidelines mention to use n/a) to clear the confusion up.

Rinse repeat.

 

4 hours ago, Rose said:

Otherwise it may be best to globally change the "Subtitles" field to "Subtitles setting" for more consistency with the current guidelines until there is a more drastic and fruitful change ready to go live.

This ties into the other discussion about adding abbreviations to all rows of the tables clarifying whether the row covers support for something as opposed to a setting for something.

Though somewhere down the line I seems to have removed the example I threw together -- probably as a result of the discussion not really going anywhere beyond the initial draft thrown together and separate development requiring my focus and sandbox page elsewhere. The latest example I had thrown together (for the Input table) can be found here: https://www.pcgamingwiki.com/w/index.php?title=User:Aemony/Sandbox&oldid=788170

Anyway, following the above draft, the subtitle row would be abbreviated with something like this:

  • An option is available to control the display of subtitles for spoken dialogue in the game.

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