Cozy Grove’s co-writer calls attention to how a certain line of dialogue had to be awkwardly localized due to the US healthcare system.
By Rory Young
Published Jun 25, 2021
Localizing a game from English can lead to a wide range of strange changes. Sometimes it’s due to cultural differences, or due to complex topics like sexuality, drugs, or violence. Cozy Grove changing a line due to the United States’ controversial healthcare system may be a first, however. A seemingly throwaway line in Cozy Grove that mentions the possibility of crowdfunding to pay for medical costs had to be altered significantly for Spain where the concept doesn’t really translate.
The Cozy Grove line verbatim is, “Friends are very important. What if you get sick and need to crowdfund your appendectomy?!” It’s spoken by one of Cozy Grove’s bear NPCs and is intended to be a joke. As such, a literal translation wouldn’t be funny or make sense to someone in Spain, where healthcare is freely available to citizens. Spain’s translated dialogue instead means, “Friends are very important. Who else would help carry your sofa if you’re moving?”
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In other words, the joke’s intent is preserved even if the literal translation is not.?The point of the joke is to say having friends is?important so that they can help you when you need them. Of course, that’s if the bear was intentionally joking. If he’s serious, that’s?hilarious and unsettling in an entirely different way.?Cozy Grove’s bears are all eccentric to varying degrees, which helps keep Cozy Grove’s life-sim gameplay loop fresh.
The utter hilarity of this game’s references to bleak American dystopia being so unrelatable to a European audience that they had to make the famous “crowdfund your appendectomy” line into being about helping a friend move their couch instead.
Well done, Native Prime https://t.co/eyj0IDca0f
— Kris is writing that novel (@KrisLigman) June 22, 2021
There’s no denying some of the joke’s magic is lost in translation, however, as it also cuts quite a bit deeper for English players. No one likes acknowledging that they may have to ask their friends to help with medical costs in an emergency. As such, the joke?also works secondarily as political commentary.?Spain’s translation doesn’t carry that over, as nice as having a government-subsidized system for helping people move couches could be.
One of Cozy Grove’s co-writers, Kris Ligman, called attention to this example of localization and made clear that the political commentary within was very much intentional. Ligman said on Twitter, “The utter hilarity of this game’s references to bleak American dystopia being so unrelatable to a European audience that they have to make the famous ‘crowdfund your appendectomy line’ into being about helping a friend move their couch instead.” Like the line in the game, Ligman describing this as hilarious likely belies a much?sharper-edged point.
For the most part, Cozy Grove’s dialogue is, appropriately, very cozy. It’s full of puns and charming back and forth with the game’s ghosts and bears, but there’s definitely a lot of cleverness and depth therein as well. Those interested in trying Cozy Grove, a casual life-sim game, out will be pleased to hear it just received a substantial update for the summer. It’s also discounted to under $10 for the duration of the Steam sale.
Cozy Grove is available now on PC, PlayStation, Switch, and Xbox.
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