Frequently Asked Questions about Geogrify LLC

What exactly does Geogrify do?

We help your products and services succeed in international markets through content culturalization:

  • We are your creative partner in the content development process to help you proactively consider geopolitical and cultural factors in your design.
  • We provide hands-on content review to identify any geopolitical and cultural issues that might be problematic, or find areas to enhance a local experience.
  • We are your strategic adviser for issues related to content distribution, post-release issues, marketing/PR and government relations – and in multiple directions: North America to Asia, Asia to Europe, and so on.
  • We provide training to assist your employees in understanding and implementing the process of content culturalization.

More information about our specific offerings can be found in the Services section.

What is meant by content “culturalization”?

The term “culturalization” refers to the process of adapting all forms of content to meet local market expectations. Culturalization takes a step beyond localization by making a more fundamental examination of content assumptions and choices, and then assesses the viability of those choices in the global, intercultural marketplace as well as in specific locales. While localization assists end-users with comprehending a product’s content through translation, culturalization allows end-users to engage with the product’s content at a more meaningful level of adaptation. There are generally two levels of culturalization in this process:

  • Reactive Culturalization: Identifying and removing content elements that will reduce or nullify viability; i.e., content that is geopolitically and/or cultural offensive or inflammatory.
  • Proactive Culturalization: Identifying and adding content elements that will enhance the local feeling and applicability; i.e., to make the content more locally relevant

Stated simply, culturalization is encouraged as a modus operandi for the design, development and distribution of global content. Rather than face potential censorship by local governments, culturalization is the content creator’s own process of acknowledging the reality of the multicultural consumers who will be simultaneously exposed to their content on the first day of release and thus taking steps to proactively adapt the content. To read more about culturalization, especially in the context of video game design, read Kate Edwards’ contribution (Chapter 2) in The Game Localization Handbook.

Why haven’t I heard of content culturalization before?

Just as localization arose with the early days of software distribution, culturalization is emerging in prominence as more companies are realizing in today’s extremely competitive global market that they must culturalize their products in order to better connect and build relevancy with their target customers. Most companies are ill-equipped to adequately identify and effectively manage the qualitative aspects of their product content because the necessary geopolitical and cultural expertise is not resident within their company. Typically, these complex problems are fragmented across departments such as localization, legal, internationalization, global operations, public relations and/or marketing. In addition, most employees are not trained to look for such issues in the context of their job function. Without a clear, proactive strategy to design, develop and distribute well-culturalized products, companies remain at the whim of local nuances and perceptions.

What kinds of geopolitical and cultural risks may occur with my content?

Every action by a company today is closely followed on the global stage. The majority of consumers no longer live in a completely closed or distant society, therefore any business activity can potentially have geopolitical and cultural impacts. And now with social media, any mistake you make – whether intentional or not – will be widely disseminated and may inflame dissent among the target market literally overnight. Often times, these content risks are centered around themes such as religious issues, ethnic inclusion/exclusion, cultural dissonance between markets, historical factors, and geopolitical aspirations of local governments. As a result, the following impacts to your business may occur:

  • Loss of consumer trust in your delivery of a positive experience
  • Brand erosion with negative PR and customer backlash
  • Loss of revenue and market share
  • Loss of government relations, with possible punitive legislation and litigation
  • Punitive government actions against local subsidiary staff (imprisonment, questioning, etc.)

For which kinds of content can Geogrify provide help?

Content which can incubate geopolitical and cultural issues includes just about anything the customer will see, hear or read, such as:

  • Games: Compliance with ratings boards, plot/story, historical events/people, character design, environment design, cultural allegories, game play scenarios, etc.
  • Text: UI elements, country/region lists, geographic names, comments in lines of code, user documentation & manuals
  • Images: Maps, flags, icons, symbols, photos, cinematics
  • Audio: Voice, music, lyrics, sound effects
  • Packaging (if applicable): Box art, box text, packaging inserts
  • Branding and marketing: Brand names, Advertising campaigns (including within the content itself), promotional items
  • Messaging: Press interviews, executive speeches, corporate events

I thought that Kate Edwards is the Executive Director of the Global Game Jam – how does that role affect Geogrify’s work?

Kate is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Global Game Jam organization to support the global democratization of games and promote games as a viable form of artistic self-expression. She deftly balances this advocacy focus alongside her oversight of Geogrify’s operations and client work.

You mention working in the video game industry. For what games has Geogrify provided services?

During her Microsoft career, Kate Edwards was responsible for providing a “geopolitical quality review” (i.e., culturalization) to nearly every Microsoft PC and Xbox game between 1995 and 2005. This included major franchises such as Halo, Gears of War, Forza, Fable, Age of Empires, Rise of Nations, and many others. Since creating Geogrify, culturalization services have been provided for many franchises, including Dragon Age, Dance Central, Ninja Gaiden 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Fallout, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Mass Effect Andromeda, Halo, and Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Does Geogrify specialize in any specific markets?

Geogrify’s expertise covers every part of the globe. What we don’t already know, we have the connections and methods to conduct thorough research. Our knowledge is also applied not only to specific markets, but also to critical cross-market relationships in various regions (e.g., Israel to the Arab nations, the China-Korea-Japan dynamic, etc.).

Given the very broad range of potential issues worldwide, how does Geogrify acquire its knowledge and stay informed?

Geogrify is built on the Kate Edwards’ 30+ years of expertise as a professional geographer, researcher, writer and corporate strategist. In those three decades, she has accumulated an extensive breadth and depth of knowledge for culturalization issues across most of the globe. For issues or areas with which she may be less familiar, a proven research methodology is in place that relies upon a wide array of resources, from academic journals and specialized news feeds to direct contact with experts in government agencies, academia and the private sector worldwide.

Is Geogrify willing to work with small companies and/or on small projects?

Geogrify is here to provide you with the expertise to succeed, regardless of the size of a company and/or a project. However, we realize some companies have limited budgets for full-scale culturalization. To meet the needs of small-scale engagement, we’ll soon be launching our Culturalizer™ ad-hoc review service. However, until the release of the Culturalizer™, feel free to contact Geogrify.

Besides direct consulting, does Geogrify offer any other resources?

Geogrify’s Principal Consultant, Kate Edwards, is hard at work on a Handbook for Game Culturalization (due possibly in 2018). This will be followed with a generic version of the handbook that is applicable to all types of content development. In addition, Kate is a prolific speaker at numerous events worldwide and also provides game culturalization seminars and workshops for companies and events. Lastly, you can find Kate’s regular “Off the Map” column on geopolitical and cultural considerations in most issues of MultiLingual Computing magazine.

Is Geogrify currently hiring? What types of skills are valued?

Unfortunately no, Geogrify is not hiring at this time. When positions are opened, a “Jobs” section will be available on the site’s top navigation. The necessary skills and expertise will vary on the position. Generally speaking, we would seek people with a strong, demonstrated understanding of international relations, crisis management, risk assessment and/or cross-cultural interactions. In addition, any candidate would also have ample exposure to the IT sector, more specifically the complexities of digital content management, localization practices and/or globalization. Specific regional knowledge and language capabilities are additional advantages (however, we are not in need of translators).

How do we engage Geogrify’s services?

If you are curious how Geogrify can help your company, start by visiting the Contact section. We offer a FREE initial assessment of your issues and will then advise on the next steps.

Lastly, why is geographic literacy so important to businesses?

Geographic literacy refers to the overall competence of an individual’s geography knowledge – from cross-cultural awareness to understanding of spatial concepts and global relationships to maintaining an ongoing curiosity about people and place; i.e., it’s not just about knowing countries and cities on a map. Geographic literacy has been long-recognized to be at poor levels in the United States yet this crisis affects businesses and decision-makers as much as schools and students. The National Geographic-Council on Foreign Relations Survey on Global Literacy in 2016 indicated a persistent lack of overall geographic awareness and understanding within the U.S. among college students.

What does this mean for your business? Put simply, your employees may not be well equipped to understand the complex geopolitical and cultural challenges of today’s global business environment because they weren’t given an educational foundation for such knowledge and awareness – even for those who are well-traveled and consider themselves of a multicultural mindset. As a result, both risks and opportunities may go unnoticed in content development, putting your company in a precarious position. Geogrify exists to bridge this knowledge gap in global companies.