The QA Service You’re Missing

If you are a game publisher and you don’t have dedicated copyediting services as part of your package offers to developers, you are leaving a lot of value on the table both for you and your developers.

The changing role of text in game development

Well-written and creative text is an indispensible feature of many types of games, from in-vogue retro genres like CRPGs and point-and-click adventure games to modern, experimental story-driven experiences that win BAFTA awards and get called masterpieces. In the last 20 years, game writing has gone from a chore developers have to do to overlay their game with some semblance of story to one of the most cherished and sought-after pieces of a game’s design by players of many different types.

High-quality writing helps players connect deeply with the worlds of the games they play and plays a key role in facilitating the experience of a game as an experience and not just a game. Writing is a core aspect of games that evoke emotions and tell stories that are unique to the medium of games. This emphasis on writing dovetails with the growing interest in role-playing and in exploring new ways for the interactivity of games to tell stories that only games can tell. Some publishers have embraced this growing market so much that they’ve pivoted their entire brand and acquisition strategy around it⁠— consider Fellow Traveller Games and the quietly dominant niche they’ve cultivated through events such as LudoNarraCon.

Image detailing stats from the 2020 LudoNarraCon digital convention hosted on Steam. Stats are pulled from url Stats include 940,000 visits, 1.43 million Steam banner impressions, and 3k average wishlist increase per exhibited game.

The industry is still playing catch-up

The shift in focus to writing, however, is not yet complete, and writing actually exists now in a strange limbo state in the industry. This is because while the artistic quality of writing has increased, and enthusiasm for that quality has been demonstrated by its audience, much of game writing (even in well-funded games) lacks a basic support that every professional form of writing has: editing. It’s true that writing itself is becoming integrated more and more into development cycles in the form of dev roles like narrative designer and others, but dedicated editors (much less professionally trained ones) hardly interface with the industry at any but the biggest-budget projects⁠— and even then, editing can still fail in big ways.

A rudimentary subject/verb disagreement in Stellaris, a game with a revenue of over $70 million. Yikes!

In short, copyediting is a long-overlooked aspect of game development and game polish⁠— and this means that right now you have a unique opportunity to present this service to game developers as an aspect of your broader QA and game polish packages. Here are some of the benefits of adding copyediting to your available QA and polish packages:

  • Expand the value of your services and strengthen your value proposition to developers
  • Improve the final quality of each release, increasing the performance of your publishing portfolio
  • Bolster your reputation as a publisher that invests in the details of its games
  • Enable you offer to a polish service that many publishers cannot or simply do not

I want to work with you to help you improve the quality of your partners’ output. I am open both to one-off, one-game project work and to longer-term arrangements. I’m willing to charge at a slight discount for publishers that can provide work on a recurring basis.

What I can offer

As a games editor, I strive to return text that is clear, easy to read, and always true to the tone of the original text and the game itself so that the writing blends seamlessly into everything else. In addition to these standard editing concerns, there are many aspects of game text that are specific to the medium, and I am enthusiastic about making the choices that are best for each project. I think about how text fits into the game as a whole, taking into consideration such issues as how capitalization functions as both an element of UI and as an element of narrative and immersion. As a trained copyeditor, I’m uniquely positioned to consider these aspects of game writing and come up with solutions that are logical, consistent, and best fitting to each specific game.

From ad copy to strings

I can edit strings of game story scripts, interfaces, and documentation semi-natively in a wide range of markup languages such as CSV, XML and others, making for a streamlined workflow compared to the technological expectations that mainstream copyeditors are likely to have. I can also provide all of the traditional editing services there might be need for in the process of marketing each game, such as offering revisions to Steam store pages or proofreading other promotional material, even dev logs or the studio’s own web copy. Being able to offer both in- and out-of-game editing services is a strong value proposition for your clients, letting them truly spend their time doing what they do best⁠— making the game. Meanwhile, having one person handle both of these tasks simplifies the work management on your end.

I am also available to edit your web copy or any blogs you might want to publish to promote the work you do as a publisher. Writing coming from your own company is perhaps the most important copy of all, as poorly edited text reflects negatively on your brand. You would be shocked to learn how many publishers don’t bother to ensure their website language is as polished as the rest of their brand is⁠, and their credibility suffers for it— don’t be one of them!

The games landscape is changing, and players have made clear their desire for games that take their stories and their writing seriously. I truly believe that making professional editing a common, attainable, and seamless part of game polish practices is a major step that must be taken in order for videogames to continue to evolve, and I would love to take that step with you.