19th Nov 2020

Staff spotlight: How to succeed as a Localization QA specialist

With dedicated studios across Asia, Europe and North America, Keywords provides fully integrated Localization Quality Assurance (LQA) solutions to publishers and developers around the world.

Our LQA specialists help our clients create better digital experiences for their players thanks to their vast experience working across a range of video games titles, on all major platforms.

Recently we spoke with two LQA staff members to gain an insight into what it’s like working in Localization QA roles, helping to ensure games are free of cultural defects and language bugs.

Marcos García Calderón is a Localization QA Project Manager at our Dublin studio and Fernanda Islas is Senior Test Lead for Keywords Localization QA in Montreal.

Here’s what they had to say:

Describe your role. What does a typical day at work involve?

Marcos: My daily duties consist of first and foremost understanding the needs and expectations of our clients.

Once there, I am ready to put our internal machinery at work: assembling and managing teams of native LQA specialists, ensuring we have all the necessary hardware to run the unreleased games, briefing our team leads and syncing them up with our clients, monitoring projects’ progress and quality delivered, documenting items, admin work, approving holidays, preparing reports and reviews, invoicing and replying lots of chats and emails.

We have six LQA project managers in Dublin, so there is a lot of teamwork involved too. 

It’s a bit of everything and there is plenty of fun to be had!

Fernanda: On the lead side, I am in charge of the team that’s working on any given project we have at that time. Sometimes as leads we take care of multiple projects.

I am the final reviewer of all deliverables to be sent so, ultimately, I am responsible for my team/teams and for the quality delivered to the client.

Fernanda Islas

Also, I make sure everyone has what they need to test correctly, that the environment is great, etc. I am also the team’s connection with the client and, for that reason, I need to be in constant communication with both parts.

I write reviews for the testers and senior testers that worked with me during the project and provide them with regular feedback as needed, among other things.

The seniority in the position brings other responsibilities, such as having to step up in difficult situations where there is only leads involved or being in charge of a group of senior testers that I will meet, provide them with their reviews, discuss their future plans and answer their questions, for example.

Is there a specific aspect of your role you enjoy?

Marcos: Video games are one of the coolest things ever created so contributing a tiny bit to make these games more accessible and enjoyable to people across the globe is probably what motivates me the most.

The cherry on top is when we are added to a game’s credits, a dream come true for most of us. I also get to know so many interesting and diverse people from all over the world. I’ve made many good friends here at Keywords.

Fernanda: I enjoy everything but definitely one thing that comes first to mind is the interaction I get to have with other people.

If there is someone with potential that I have the opportunity to coach and then watch them grow, that also gives me great satisfaction.

Tell us a bit about your career to date.

Marcos: After I finished my BBA and post-graduate, I worked at PriceWaterhouseCoopers as a financial auditor.

Wearing a suit and a tie all day long and the overall formality wasn’t really for me, so I started to look for a different career direction that would be more connected to something I was passionate about.

I relocated from Spain to Ireland and I ended up joining Keywords in Dublin in 2011. Who would have thought? I could finally wear jeans and a heavy metal t-shirt at work!

Keywords Studios Dublin Office Lobby Interior
Our Dublin studio is home to many of our Localization QA specialists

I also joined an industry I was really engaged with. I have great memories of all these years and we have grown so much as a company since then. I worked as a tester and then as a team lead for around three years and then became a project manager in 2016.

Fernanda: I started at the beginning of 2014 as a Latin American Spanish tester as part of Babel, which was later acquired by Keywords, which means I have been in the company for six years.

Before I joined, this was the kind of job that I was looking for, as my aim was to work in something related to video games and localization/translation was always a part of me in a way.

Since I landed my dream job, I knew that I wanted to grow and do different things to explore the industry and myself within it.

I have learned that I am good with people and I can quickly earn their trust.

What three tips do you have for someone that wants to work in Localization QA?

Marcos: My tips to start from the base as a LQA tester: be as proficient as possible on your native language grammar, rules and uses.

It’s a big plus if you have a translation background or skills.

However, I think it’s beneficial for me to explain what an ‘LQA Tester’ does. They not only test the game and report the issues found but they are also responsible for fixing most of the linguistic errors encountered. So it’s a bit more than just testing and it requires a great deal of teamwork and problem-solving skills.

Also, play all kinds of games. Be familiar with tools such as Excel or JIRA. Improve your English and apply!

Fernanda: Work and be up to date with the grammar and word usage in your language. Be motivated to learn and do more all the time, so you can grow.

This also means never hesitate to ask questions, to ask to learn something or to acquire more responsibility.

Appreciate and enjoy what you are doing every day, it doesn’t matter how small it might seem.

What, in your opinion, are the key considerations for making Localization QA project a success?

Marcos: As one of the last steps in the video game development cycle, we often experience the consequences of delays or unexpected problems in previous tasks.

So I think success starts with realistic planning that allows for enough time and resources to be spent on a quality LQA, even if there are delays.

Marcos García

Once we are given that, it’s on us to secure an experienced team of testers, ideally familiar with the type of game or the client procedures (every client might use a different bug database or text-fixing cycle).

Other ideal aspects would be to enjoy a good in-game implementation of well-structured and managed localized assets (translated texts and voice over) and sufficient information on game mechanics, structure and debug (cheats).

With all these ingredients, I can envisage nothing but a big success!

Fernanda: Teamwork, motivation, knowledge/experience and dedication.

A project will most likely be successful when all the relevant elements are working as a whole.

What is your favourite video game and why?

Marcos: I’ll go with Baldur’s Gate because it was my first serious RPG and it was such a huge influence. It showed me how much depth games could have.

Fernanda: My all-time favourite is Mario Kart, because it is really fun to play with friends.

There are other video games that have great art and a lot of work put into them and I acknowledge that, but Mario Kart brings me back to my childhood.

Tell us something interesting about yourself that people may not know?

Marcos: I love hiking and enjoy the challenge of making popular summits such as Mt Olympus, Musala, Monte Perdido, Mt Whitney or Ben Nevis.

I have travelled all I reasonably could and visited more than 40 countries so far.

I also played basketball for almost 20 years so I hope to be ready to represent our Keywords international team if that ever becomes a reality!

Fernanda: Other than video games, I have a passion for the film industry. I considered a career in dubbing and sounds effects, I even worked on it for a short period of time.

I also love to build and collect Lego sets and vinyl figures.

Are you interested in a role with Keywords Localization QA? You can find current open positions on the Keywords Studios website.

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