Playing video games from other countries can be an enjoyable experience when the game is made right. Players don’t want to experience a game that has a language barrier and complicated language mechanics. That can bring about a negative experience and an even more negative reception for that game. That’s where the LQA team comes in.
The Crucial Role of Linguistic Quality Assurance (LQA)
Linguistic Quality Assurance is crucial to a localization team and development. It’s not just about playing and translating a video game into different languages. Even after translation, there is proofreading to be done and systems to check, and there might be issues that came about from certain tests that weren’t there in the beginning process. Without LQA, releasing a game to specific major countries may be a disaster.
Here are some problems an LQA team might face:
1. Games Built Without Localization In Mind
It will be hard for a team to come into a project that wasn’t made for different languages to begin with. If a game needs to be translated into several languages and the UI system in the game is limited, that makes it harder for the translators and developers.
In this scenario, some languages won’t fit into the system. Certain scenes or gaming mechanics can be complex to explain in text or language. This can potentially lead to a product release with missing text. In-game items can have their ID numbers show up on-screen. These things can be distracting for gamers and even frustrating.
It can be challenging for developers and publishers to tell beforehand if certain cultures will reach their game. However, taking the time to determine this at the beginning of the project cycle can help the LQA team tackle the workload much more straightforward.
Everyone in the industry winces and groans at the mention of these. These software “critters” don’t just appear in gameplay mechanics but also through text and UI systems in the game. It is generally in everybody’s interest to steer clear of these. However, it is the job of any QA team to actively search for them and any other technical issues in the game. The LQA team will ensure that they have the tools they need to handle language bugs that could pop up in-game, such as “cheats” and bug report channels.
Sometimes, bugs won’t always be fixed as soon as they are discovered, and the QA team will have to prioritize which problem to address first. In the worst-case scenario, the major bugs will have to get squashed, and the lesser bugs will not be severe enough to break the game. The LQA has to determine this. If this issue is not handled correctly, the product can be dead on arrival.
3. Lack of Communication
The whole project fails if the translators and game developers don’t get to communicate well. It’s a simple concept to understand, but every team that is involved understands what a lack of communication feels like on their end. It can lead to the abovementioned problems and make them more frequent or worse.
A way to communicate effectively is to schedule follow-up meetings between the QA team and developers. This ensures that everyone discusses the problems within the project and gives solutions. Ending meetings with goals in mind will keep everyone focused, motivated, and on the same page.
Having just one LQA team instead of multiple teams working on a project can also lessen confusion. Handling major work tickets from teams across different companies can be a mess. Here’s an example:
One QA team can have a serious problem with a language bug in the game. That team sends a work ticket to the developers to bring attention to it. A separate QA team can come across that same bug and send a message to the developers acknowledging it but stating that it won’t “break the game.” Which is it, then? You can see how that scenario can drive developers crazy. It’s best to have one LQA team you can trust in the already challenging task of making a proper game instead of trying to figure out what to do amidst cross-feedback.
More Than Just “Breaking The Game”
Finally, even though playing the game is the main perk of the LQA job, there is more involved. It is important that teams keep in mind the potential issues listed above and more. The job of the LQA isn’t just to “break the game.” They are constantly testing, ensuring their equipment is up, and the theories on gaming technical problems are challenged. They are constantly reporting any issues that appear and directing those findings to the proper channels. Again, they communicate with developers and other team members on a constant basis, helping with a healthy workflow. When the QA team uses these steps and steers clear of potential pitfalls, it will put your game on the right path to be a successful experience for all.