The aim of this conference will be to study the Spanish translation of The Red Strings Club in order to argue that, for cultural productions deeply concerned with the notion of identity, the language in which they appear affects their explicitness, both intradiegetically and extradiegetically.
Set in an undetermined future, The Red Strings Club, by the Spanish team Deconstructeam, follows the story of three main characters and their quest to overthrow an allegedly evil corporation whose goal is to implant an algorithm that might endanger individuality and freedom in exchange for happiness and social stability. One of these characters, Akara-184, appears as an android in search for their identity that, given their artificial nature, questions their degree of humanity. Unlike Larissa, a trans-woman who self-identifies as a she, Akara does not identify themself with a particular gender; While other characters feel the need to accommodate them to their gender perspectives, given Akara’s androgynous appearance, the android always let the character to whom they are talking to assign them one.
This process, however, has a different development depending on which version of the game players are experiencing. While English can easily resort to gender-neutral expressions, Spanish is traditionally built around gender binarism, which forces the translator to make decisions regarding gender-marked expressions that would not occur in English. In that sense, we believe that the particularities present in both the Spanish and the English version of the video game modify the way in which characters are depicted, not only from a grammatical point of view, but also from a pragmatic perspective. In other words, even when attempting towards a more gender-neutral translation, the way in which the Spanish language traditionally works requires players to culturally reconceptualize the gender-neutral body. In fact, would the translation have opted to use the neologisms that are gaining relevance nowadays (“elle”, for instance, as a gender-neutral pronoun), it would have tampered with the depiction of certain characters who are intradiegetically conservative enough not to use more progressive linguistic formulae.
Furthermore, the fact that a native Spanish team first developed this video game in English and then translated it poses the question of how much their cultural and linguistic assumptions affected its development. While it is true that the game was reviewed by a native English speaker before being published, there is a question regarding how much of their cultural baggage and linguistic tools affected the cultural conceptualization of identity and gender within the game.
In conclusion, since this video game explicitly tackles the issues of identity and gender, as well as their interconnection, for both Larissa and Akara express their concerns regarding these, this conference aims to offer insights regarding the way in which different cultures attempt to solve the intersection between identity, gender, and language.
Documentación de apoyo a la presentación ONLINE de la ponencia