Illustration for article titled Assuring Quality: Localization QA and what it actually entails

The world of Quality Assurance can be a potentially bizarre job and to be fair... that’s correct! You wake up one day and then the company, after seeing your tests, decides that they want to use you as Localization QA so you need to come in for training... in the morning, when you worked an evening shift the night before! (Yes, that actually happened!)


(I have 5 years of experience working for an outsourcing QA company (Full disclosure: I got fired months ago for something that was totally my fault). More importantly, I’m not American - Thus there’s caveats everywhere as my experience won’t be the same as what you’ll find in the good ol’ US of A (Mainly, we have some sort of worker protection here) and it won’t be the same as someone who worked directly for a developer or a publisher. Practically every former QA employee has a different story and opinion on the business.)

“Another one so quickly?”

Yes, I was working on a different article and I’m going to need more research on that. So instead, you get to hear me talk about Localization QA and what that entails.


“Hit me.”

So, Localization QA. Typically, this is not done for English US - Most of the games we saw came from English and required translations in many languages. The job is twofold - They have to make sure that the language used in the game does not sound weird to a native speaker and they also have to verify that the changes made to the game’s script do not cause graphical or other issues. Functionality folk can assist with the latter, but obviously not the former.


“Wait? It’s not done for English?”

Not usually - When it’s a game that was not originally in English, then that is usually done, the same way you would do so for a game that goes from English to any other language. This is in fact how I got some experience in Localization QA, even though my first language is French.


“Let’s get back to the real subject - What’s that do?”

The job is mostly the same - Proceed to an area within the game, and see how the game handles text and especially text that has special characters such as ß or Ø, if the VO is in the correct language, see if the subtitles are correct, etc. The processes to log these issues are the same as I’ve outlined in the previous post. Otherwise, the job is the same, although they usually have no restrictions on using debug due to needing to reach all areas of the game quickly in order to see all text/cutscenes, whereas we folk doing testing sometimes had restrictions on using debug as that could cause issues.


“Wait, you said native speakers?”

Yes - The job requires that you have native level comprehension as you are there to evaluate whether or not something has been worded properly. You are not doing the translation yourself, but merely helping the localization be as good as possible. It’s a good entry level job if you speak a non-English language enough to be considered a native. You are usually paid more than the usual testers as you bring something to the table that is not easily obtained elsewhere. I can test circles around most people, but don’t ask me if the text there is proper Russian, I can just say if it’s in Russian from doing Russian playthroughs of games during testing.


“So they have the testers do playthroughs in different languages but not the Localization testers?”

In an attempt to help the localization testers to concentrate specifically on their jobs, that job is usually given to the regular testers. They are often far more knowledgeable in game mechanics than localization testers who may not even have touched the game before. There has even been times where we have been asked to record playthroughs so they could sift through them and see if a specific line was heard in the game as they could not find it themselves. This is one of the many ways both branches of QA can help each other out.


Typically, if both branches were assigned to the same game, we’d pass bugs to each other if they matched our specializations. Functionality bugs to the functionality team, localization bugs to the localization team. That way, we’d ensure everything was good.

“Anything else?”

Not really, it’s a fairly clear cut job. There are times where as part of localization QA you’ll be asked to do some stuff that has to do with language but is vastly different from the job. I can’t really give examples for obvious reasons but it is a thing that happens so anyone angling for a job in that portion should be aware of it.


No, I have no idea how the hell Ys VIII released like that on Switch.

I think the next one’ll be something about a much ignored part of the testing process: Ensuring that the game passes the rigorous Certification process of console manufacturers.

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