Germanics Alum, Alexander Kellum O'Connor (BA 2012, cum laude), on Building a Career with a Germanics Degree

Submitted by Stephanie N. Welch on

Guten Tag!

            My name is Kellum O’Connor and I graduated from the University of Washington in June of 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Germanics. Since April 2014, I have worked at a job where I have had to use my command of German and my analytical skills honed from writing nuanced and precise essays as a historian. A vendor for Microsoft called Keywords International conducts gaming localization for the XBOX ONE and XBOX 360 consoles, and I have the distinction of having been on several high-priority projects at their testing labs in Redmond, Washington.

            The way gaming localization works starts with the game itself, which is usually developed by an English-speaking company. The developers want to export the game to other markets where the primary language is not English, which is where the localizers and translators come in. The translators working internationally receive limited context and information concerning how to translate the English source material, which might include user interface code, voice over script, text for in-game collectibles etc. The translators submit their work to the developers, who then upload the translated files to an early “build” of the game. The localizer then sees this build and the translated files therein to ensure that the translations fit the given context and are consistent with the English source material.

            Some projects I have worked on include “Forza Horizon 2,” “Dead Rising 3,” “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” and “Minecraft: Pocket Edition.” My duties have extended from writing bugs concerning all sorts of issues from truncations to voice over lines spoken improperly. I believe I was placed on high-priority projects not just for knowing the mechanics of the games themselves, but precisely because my knowledge of German culture, history and language was so precise. I attribute my performance as a localizer to the education I received in the history and German departments at the University of Washington from 2007-2012.

            The German department at the UW is unparalleled. Bright intellects and professional attitudes abounded on the third floor of Denny Hall (which is currently being renovated). The professors who mentored me were supportive, driven and so full of knowledge. Whether it was reading 18th century literature, watching German-language television series, discussing the linguistic complexities of German phonology or even acting in German-language theater, every day spent in expanding my knowledge of the language, history and culture of the German-speaking world was a day well-spent. The entire department and staff have my deepest thanks and respect. 

            Lastly, I have been pursuing academic endeavors and will actually be enrolling at graduate school. I have been accepted into a Master of Arts program in history at the University of Siegen in North Rhine-Westphalia. My studies start in October 2015. As such, I would encourage any recent graduate of the German department who has interest in games to apply for this work caused by my forthcoming vacancy.

            Go Huskies und vielen Dank!


                        -Alexander Kellum O‘Connor

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