Game Localization: What LQA is and How It Works
A title’s success in a new market largely depends on the quality of its localization. But not even professional localizations are immune to mistakes. The only question is: who’s going to find these mistakes first, the developer or the players?
But there must be a way to avoid any unfortunate misunderstandings once the translation is done and dusted, right? The answer is yes — just use LQA (Linguistic Quality Assurance). The goal of LQA is to determine whether or not a translation adheres to cultural, linguistic, legal, and other unique features of the target country.
Let’s take a look at a specific example from our company’s portfolio. We can’t name the game or its localizer (NDAs and all that), but we’re talking about a title from Nexters. This company releases games with lush graphics, fine-tuned gameplay, and high-quality localizations. Nexters cares a lot about localization, which is why their games fit so easily and organically into the cultural milieus of various countries.
Last year Nexters asked Logrus IT to evaluate a multilingual translation of one of its games. We tested their localization into English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Brazilian Portuguese.
So how does our company usually evaluate translation quality, and how did we do it in this case? Our process is divided into three stages.
- Technical LQA using AssurIT This is a program developed in house by Logrus IT. We use it to detect errors such as non-conformity with linguistic standards and translational incongruity, i.e. violation of the text’s logical and semantic coherence. AssurIT helps us save our clients time and money.
- Overall LQA by a native speaker Does the entire translation need to be edited? Or does it just need a few tweaks here and there? During this phase, we evaluate the text and the scale of the work that needs to be done using the Quality Triangle.
- Localization testing Lastly, we check to see how the translated text looks in an actual build of the game. You can read more about localization bugs and our testing process here.
We also have a special portal designed with LQA optimization in mind. It makes it easy to work with LQA metrics and interact with the other people involved in testing. This greatly speeds up the entire LQA process. Moreover, the client can use the portal to track the evaluation in real time and access essential LQA statistics.
But let’s go back to the game we checked for Nexters. We applied the process outlined above, starting with the French localization. This entailed evaluating about 130,000 words of localized text. LQA allowed us to make sure every single string complied with the rules of French punctuation. For example, French orthography requires that there be a space before every single punctuation mark.
But our evaluation didn’t stop at the micro level. Once the small issues had been settled, we moved on to the big ones: how readable was the translation? Was it easy to understand? Was it adapted to the target culture? A combination of approaches allowed us to see the translation from all angles and check literally every single aspect of it.
Is this painstaking attention to detail really necessary? Absolutely. A game doesn’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Even a seemingly insignificant translation mistake can lead to unpredictable consequences. That’s why the specialists at Nexters consider translation quality and LQA to be so vital.
And the results speak for themselves. Nexters is currently one of the five largest developers in Europe, and its titles are played by millions of gamers all over the world. So what’s next for Nexters? Their team can answer that question with confidence: hitting new targets and breaking new records.