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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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