Testing for Quality Assurance

QA tester is for many gamers a dream job; for some even an unobtainable dream job. Anyone that has grown to love video games would love to make them or play them using most of his/her free time in the process. QA in games is often dismissed as an easy job, one that anyone can do and that is often regarded as not working (I still have to convince many of my friends that QA departments don’t “play” the games). This has made QA departments recruitment temporal for the most part, and it is increasingly difficult to be part of a QA team without the end-of-the-contract-is-arriving fear. Truth is, from a producer’s point of view, what would be the sense in paying professionals when you can get a bunch of kids to do the job for free?
In any case, a well done QA process is fundamental for a succesful game release and final quality.

Having a QA team means better overall quality and more polished builds for when the game is released; it is quite obvious when some games just haven’t had the proper time to be tested . Also, as the game’s first users, the QA team can provide feedback on the early stages of the game and watching them play can better show which are the features with the most potential. On the other hand, you risk not having the right staff employed, which can be one of 2 types: those without imagination and those that can’t understand a developer team’s point of view. The latter being particularily problematic as it can lead to ego battles about who knows more about video games (a battle that is lost from the very beginning). In this situation, more bad than good can happen from a QA process.
Ideally, there should be a specialised QA team from the first moments a game is playable that works closely along with the devs, but that situation is not common practice. Most of the problems come from a lack of communication between the devs and QA teams, with a database in between them most of the times. Considering the wide range of nationalities involved in the video game industry this, more often than not, leads to potential misunderstandings that are hugely negative for the final results.

 

The biggest danger of a QA process is a disorganised QA process. One without leadership or control of content inbound and outbound will eventually lead to content and carelessness. Also, having an inexperienced team can lead to overcriticism of the product.

 

Don´t get me wrong, devs are definitely the stars on this scene. They are the ones to push it forward and make it a reality. QA will be there to give them the final hoorah or the final slap in the face, always having in mind that no developer team wants there game to be bad intentionally; they do what they can with the resources they have, just about as any other business does.

 

Video games are the passion of everybody working with them and of many others wishing to do so, it would be so much easier if everyone would work for the same end.