Gaming Corner: So You Want to Be in Quality Assurance

in games •  last month

Testing tends to be where a lot of people in the industry start and realistically it's a good place to start if you are unsure where in the industry you want to be, don't have a ton of experience, or just want your foot in the door of the right company. As EC says you want to find the right fit on a team over finding a gig at your favorite studio. I don't think that means not trying to go for those studios, but instead understand that if you do end up in that company, you might not feel the same way about that game/genre when you come out the other side of a project.

Additionally QA tends to be seen as the lower end of the totem pole, which is COMPLETELY unfair. A lot of this is slowly changing from what it seems like these days but this was really forced into being by there being an US vs THEM mentality wit the industry for some time, often exacerbated by keeping Devs and QA separate and using middleman communication methods. This tends to be more prevalent in the large companies, though mostly just because teams are so big. Can you imagine being a Dev in charge of a feature in a game and allowing any of the testers to communicate with you freely? You can have hundreds of testers all messaging you about the same issues as they all find them in the build. This isn't really anyone one persons fault as everyone just wants to help and solve the problem. However simply having leads and producers helps filter out duplicate questions and concerns and ensures that everyone's time is spent making the game be as awesome as possible. The most ideal fix for this tends to be having imbedded testers within the Dev teams that are those Point of Contacts on those features. Often this allows the imbedded QA to be in meetings, learn of new features as the come online, and pass on good debug/testing information out to the QA teams at large to ensure everyone is always up to speed on the current state of their area if questions come up.

Another insight that is key to take away from the video linked is the idea of scope and letting your bugs go. In no way am I advocating anyone finding a bug, writing it up, and then just forgetting about it. I am however suggesting that as you work through your first and second projects that you learn where those lines are at, and if you aren't sure ask. A lot of Devs and Producers (good ones anyway!) will have guidelines or targets that they are aiming for any sharing those should only make everyone's lives easier, so ASK! Additionally, understanding your studio/company/leads can play into this as well. There are many different type of people in the industry, some that only care if the game looks good, some that only care if its fun, some that just want to make sure the game ships on time. All of these are EXTREMELY useful styles, given the right situations. Knowing what style you are dealing with and what kind of game you are making can all weigh in on whether that texture seam you just found really matters in the grand scheme of things. Or maybe that crash you found, that only happens when you do a extremely edge case set of steps, just isnt worth rewriting the games code a month before ship cause only 2% of people are going to hit it. Realistically that sounds like some lackluster excuse but fixing a 2% bug and potentially causing a 50-75% bug just should be simple and easy math to bring you roughly to the same conclusion.

Lastly, and this is the strongest piece of advice anyone in the industry can give you, DON'T BURN BRIDGES. There is nothing more stupid that you can do than smoke bombing at the end of project and handling it poorly. The industry isn't huge and people move around a lot. Chances are, you will work with someone again at another studio given enough time. Additionally you tend to find that social circles overlap so it tends to be a 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon situation. That being said, do not be afraid to move around and see what other companies are like. You will find that all studios have a different feel and atmosphere meaning one person's cup of tea is another nightmare. Additionally the skills you can learn from other studios can be extremely useful in your career, leading it innovative ideas that spawn some of the best games.

I guess what I am saying is that working QA on a games title is just like any other job. Sometimes you get the fantastic freedom to adhoc and just break the game. These are some of the best experiences you will have in testing as they can produce some of the most magical and wonderful bugs. Other days you might have to load every piece of gear in a game, kill an enemy with every weapon to ensure the credit is given, or even just play through every mission start to finish as fast as possible just to ensure the build is playable for the testers down the line.

The gaming industry still tends to be one of passion and can break a lot of people in the process. If you can go in knowing that it is going to be tough but everything you do leads to that end user having a better experience, you are going to have a fun time....most of the time..

(Please understand that these are the opinions of myself based on my time in the industry as well as anecdotal stories of others in the industry too. They do not reflect the practices or procedures of any one company or studio)

So You Want to Be in QA - Extra Credits

Additionally they have a great playlist that speaks to other disciplines within the industry that I would also check out if you were thinking about games but are unsure where to go.

Gaming Carrers Playlist - Extra Credits

#ExtraCredits #QualityAssurance #Testing #Games #QA

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  trending

Yay @pixelpopper, so glad you posted!

I recommend being choosier about your 5 tags. Check on this page and sort by Payouts.

This is now ordered by the amount of rewards that go to people posting in those Tags. Be sure to look at the Posts field though, because the more posts, the more that reward pool is divided up, or the more likely your post is to get buried.

We're not far enough along that obscure tags like qualityassurance will get any attention.

If there are any QA folks out there also interested in Steem, it may be worthwhile to look into Utopian-IO which rewards you pretty heftily for writing bugs for Open Source projects.

Check out my bug reports in the Feed for and see the upvote values I get for approved bugs.

Steem makes it possible to QA and make plenty of money without working for a company.