LQA, or Localization Quality Assurance, is an acronym that you will likely encounter if you work in localization or the video game industry. You may assume that LQA is part of the translation, editing, and proofreading process, but it’s actually a separate step.
While translators, editors, and proofreaders transform video game text from one language to another, LQA testers ensure the translated content performs well in the game.
LQA is a complex undertaking that involves three main areas: Linguistic Quality Assurance, Visual Quality Assurance, and Functional Quality Assurance.
Linguistic Quality Assurance
This involves checking the translated content for purely linguistic errors. Here, the focus is on:
- Contextual errors: Instances where the translation is accurate as a standalone text but doesn’t quite work when it appears in the game. Specialized or niche terms and regional slang lend themselves to these types of errors.
- Cultural sensitivities: Cases where the script includes a word or topic that’s considered offensive in the target market. Content related to sex, violence, politics, and religion is often more controversial in some cultures than in others. In these cases, the content may be changed or even removed completely.
- Grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes: Issues such as repeat words, typos, errors in syntax, and incorrect verb conjugations.
- ‘Naturalness’: Making sure the translation sounds completely natural in the target text. Generally, the translated text should read as if it were the original, with no signs that it had been translated.
- Voice-over: Checking to make sure the script was not mistranslated or offensive. Cumbersome, clunky scripts can lead to problems too, since subtitles need to be concise.
Linguistic quality assurance is a layered process because, once a ‘string’ of text has been flagged, the LQA testers mark the text as “to be updated” so they can recheck it in a future round of testing and ensure the newest version is error-free.
Visual Quality Assurance
This involves detecting and fixing design-related errors that would affect the player’s visual experience of the game. Specifically, LQA testers pay attention to:
- Fonts: These need to be compatible with the screen size. They must also support the use of accent marks and special characters that appear in different world languages: the ‘ñ’ in Spanish, the ‘ç’ in French, and the ‘ã’ in Portuguese, for example.
- Graphics: These could be in-game signs or humorous posters that are mistranslated, partially translated, or not translated at all.
- String length: Translations in some languages, such as Spanish or German, are generally longer than in English, so the translated text’s length needs to be checked to ensure it is compatible with the screen size.
- UX/UI issues: These may arise when the translated text isn’t compatible with its placeholder. Imagine a weapon-wheel for example, where the translated name of a weapon doesn’t fit the space allotted for it.
Functional Quality Assurance
These QA issues are often much more complex than the previous two as they relate to bugs in the game for which recoding is the only solution. The bugs LQA testers look out for include:
- Audio problems: The audio is out of sync with the game character’s lips or the subtitles, or it’s corrupted or doesn’t play.
- Performance: The game simply doesn’t perform as it should. For example, a game tutorial tells you to do something in order to achieve an objective, but the instructions don’t trigger that outcome or cause something different to happen instead.
- Text strings: A command does not trigger the appropriate text string. For example, instead of retrieving stats on a new sword, it pulls up stats on a potion in your satchel.
- UX/UI: When a game is being localized into languages that have a different reading order, like Arabic, LQA testers will suggest that developers mirror the UI from left to right to accommodate the linguistic difference.
LQA plays a vital role in assuring the translated content fits seamlessly into the game to create a natural and enjoyable experience for gamers in all languages.
It is a live test run of the localized versions of the game to analyze their performance. Errors are flagged and corrected to ensure the finished product is polished and ultra-smooth so that the game has the best chance of wowing players on a global scale.