Look, Lord of the Rings: Gollum isn’t cool. This fact doesn’t need repeating, but there’s something to be said for the fact that the developers create entire DLC dedicated to preserving the intricacies of Tolkien’s Sindarin conlang (or constructed language, which means any kind of language that’s invented rather than developed naturally). Not only is the new voiceover expansion a great income generator for game developers and a great immersion tool for people who love Lord of the Rings and want a deeper experience – it’s also incredibly cool. In fact, I think more games should have options that allow players to explore other languages, whether artificial or real.
The Sindarin DLC is exactly what it sounds like, making the Elves in the game speak Sindarin instead of English. The add-on is available for $2.99 on its own or as part of the Lord of the Rings Gollum Precious Edition.
For starters, Sindarin was Tolkien’s conlang for modern Elven societies in Middle Earth and beyond. With his deep love of language and its historical development, Tolkien is known for creating complex and fully functional languages for all of his races. Sindarin, for example, has a fully traceable linguistic history – from its origins in Goldogrin, to the Noldorin, to Sindarin in modern times. Much phoneme was borrowed from the Welsh language, but Tolkien took such great pride in creating and constructing his own words that they cannot be traced back to any other sources.
Elves may have gotten the most in-depth treatment from Tolkien, but dwarves, men, and even orcs have been traced back to the history of their languages, too. The Dwarves kept the intricacies of their languages mostly to themselves, and Sauron Black Speech and other Orcish languages have appeared in bits and pieces in some of the other Lord of the Rings games, movies, and shows. With a little bit of work (and the help of some professional linguists), all of these things can be adapted into their own DLCs.
And I don’t see any reason the odds should stop at the Lord of the Rings franchise. Language DLCs would be a great addition to the Middle-earth series as a whole, but what about alien races that speak their own language in a space RPG like the Outer Worlds? It can even be extended to the languages of real life, both living and dead; Ancient cultures in the Assassin’s Creed games can be experienced with complete integrity to their languages rather than just a word here or there, or the Cyberpunk series can make better use of its cultural melting pot with a similar feature rather than having people from all different cultures speak English with an accent.
It would be a way to deepen the experience for those who want it without having to overwhelm those who struggle with other languages or quickly read translations. It can be used in myriad ways that can easily benefit both the publishing company and the player base – as long as it’s not abused, of course.
I hope it’s not lost on Gollum’s match. Because oh child, is it bad. Between the graphics, outdated gameplay, and even the ragdoll death animation, it’s a black mark on the long and storied history of The Lord of the Rings games. The Sindarin DLC won’t be enough to save Gollum, but it’s a great new idea that could pave the way for this sort of thing to appear in more games in the future.
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