To Dub, or Not to Dub: That is the Question
by Soraya Perez on March 3, 2014 at 09:37 AM EDT

In Spain, English is taught from a very early age. Unfortunately, for personal and professional reasons, many Spaniards can’t understand a movie or a video game in Shakespearean English. It might not seem like a big deal to some of our readers, but let’s not forget that a lot of the international media that Spain consumes comes from English speaking countries. From The Simpsons, to Jersey Shore, to hearing Rihanna in the discotecas; English is everywhere. So with a largely non-English-speaking public, what is there to do? To dub, or not to dub: that is the question.

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Dubbing in cinema is something of a cultural staple in Spain. We can’t imagine a non-dubbed movie and that’s why Spanish dubbers are considered some of the best in the world. Some movies with mediocre acting have actually improved after being dubbed into Spanish. And honestly, it’s something we’re really proud of. But is dubbing as common in gaming? Is Spanish dubbing as good in video games as it is in cinema?

Unfortunately, it’s not as good as it should be. Dubbing has sparked intense debates and division between gamers throughout the years. Some gamers support a game’s original version while others fight for games to be translated into Spanish, one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

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In Metal Gear Solid, Alfonso Vallés, Solid Snake’s dubber, gave personality, strength and life to the role. The first MGS game was brought to Spain dubbed, so the rest of the games arrived with Spanish subtitles. Many gamers, now accustomed to hearing David Hayter’s voice, couldn’t accept another dubbed Metal Gear. For them, any Spanish dubbing, despite its quality, would ruin the game by turning a much loved character into a stranger.While MGS was effectively dubbed in its first installation, Halo 4 has been considered one of the worst dubbed games ever. What went wrong? Sometimes voices with similar qualities to the original version can’t be found for dubbing, which decreases the game’s quality and originality.

In the case of Japanese games, the majority of Spanish gamers prefer the original version, as Japanese-Spanish dubbing is supposedly quite “horrible,”according to Iker Campo, a veteran gamer.

So while some adore dubbed titles, others can’t stand them because character familiarity is lost. Many gamers just want the ability to choose. They want to be able to decide what the best language is for each game.

Typically, native English speakers don’t have this problem as much, but for those that have played dubbed games or games with subtitles,which do you prefer? Let us know.

Edited by: Lauren Hook

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Edited by: Erika Kime

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  • Jose

    I’m sorry but I have to tell you that Spanish dubbers are far from being the best in the world, they’re simply not very good actors. With few exceptions, most spanish dubs are terrible. The best dubbers to spanish are from Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico. Even in Argentina with their distorted spanish are better at dubbing than Spaniards. Something I find very funny from Spaniard dubs is that they try to translate everything, literally. I remember once watching a dubbed version of Star Wars and laughing like crazy after hearing the name “Lucas Trotacielos” (Luke Skywaker).
    Regarding the question, to dub or not to dub, I believe the best option should be to include both the original language and the dubbed version and let each one decide how they want to hear it.

    • Jason Mounce

      I tried watching a Spanish Dubbed anime and found out hilariously that Spanish VA’s are generally worse than most North American turd-quality voice actors.

      Both cannot express emotion or depth of character or genuine connections with who they’re voicing. I’d say having Jap-Dub and Dual-audio choices should be mandatory in these positions w/ Subs. Or, Tri-Audio w/ English/Jap and the VA in the country it’s served in with proper subs.

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