A career in video game testing

By Whyttest Team 5 months agoNo Comments

DEFINITIONS

A game tester is someone who works for video games production companies, passionate about games and striving for QUALITY. Testing a video game is a complex process, starting from a Pre-Alfa stage, dealing with a lot of crashes, where cinematics are sketches, low FPS, basically a lot of bugs that are logged in a Bug Management tool.
Bugs are Fixed from version to version, stage by stage until the game reaches the Final Stage and everything is implemented and works as designed.
Without games testers, bugs and glitches would abound in games, possibly making them unplayable and destroying the reputation of the publisher.
Testers are needed for every platform: PC, Consoles (Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo), Mobile and any genre: role playing games, massively multiplayer online games, action games, etc.

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WHAT DOES A GAME TESTER DO?

First of all, in order to achieve the desired quality, a tester must:

  • Understand that quality must be a mindset!
  • Learn about the game (specs, game design docs, etc.);
  • Test from different points of view: as a gamer, as a normal user, etc.;

A games tester receives copies of games with a very helpful debug menu that helps to reach locations, load missions, has a lot of indicators that help testers and devs to discover and fix bugs.

During gameplay, the tester attempts to discover hidden bugs using different POV methods to cover every possible scenario.

For example: checks the collision of any object that may or may not be on the gold path, check FPS on crowded areas full of NPCs while triggering a scripted event, opens menu during a cinematic and makes graphic changes, and so on…

After discovering a bug, game testers must write a description of what occurred, along with directions and steps to reproduce, that accurately describe how to find the bug in the game.

All bugs are logged and assigned to designated developers but this not the last stop for them. Once the test team receives a new build which includes the fixes for the bugs, the Bug Regression comes into play; during this procedure the team makes sure that the issues are no longer present and that the fixes did not cause any additional bugs.

As games get bigger and bigger, making leaps in both graphical and mechanical complexity, they’re generating more and more bugs, and in some cases might not be so easy to catch or fix.

But, there is no game industry standard when it comes to QA procedures, every game is different and every company has its own process.

In the end, testers use their expertise to assure Quality of the final product.

HOW DO TESTERS HANDLE A PROJECT?

In order to better explain the tasks and responsibilities of a QA tester, below can be found a generic project workflow.

The first version of the game that the QA team usually receives is called a First Playable Prototype. This is a skeleton of the game, with no level design, no art and no functional menus. It only contains major gameplay elements and the basis of the gameplay mechanics or features. In this phase, the testers give a functionality status over the controls and menu flow. The process can be very frustrating, since the game stability is the lowest at this point and the title can crash, become stuck or not even boot up properly. After having found 10 crashes per hour, the test team sends a report that contains the overall functionality status on all tested aspects.

In Alpha and Beta is where testers start creating documentation for their tests. This is the time filled with creating test plans, estimating timeframes for testing and risk assessment meetings. They test every little area of a game, replaying the same level multiple times to check if it completes correctly, if it has art bugs, if it can be broken or exploited.

During the final stage of a project, they test more in-depth, paying more attention to small bugs and spotting hindering or blocking issues from the first few hours of tests. This is the time where every mistake counts and even the smallest moment of not paying attention could cost the QA, development, production and publishers everything.

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HOW DO TESTERS HANDLE A PROJECT?

In order to better explain the tasks and responsibilities of a QA tester, below can be found a generic project workflow.

The first version of the game that the QA team usually receives is called a First Playable Prototype. This is a skeleton of the game, with no level design, no art and no functional menus. It only contains major gameplay elements and the basis of the gameplay mechanics or features. In this phase, the testers give a functionality status over the controls and menu flow. The process can be very frustrating, since the game stability is the lowest at this point and the title can crash, become stuck or not even boot up properly. After having found 10 crashes per hour, the test team sends a report that contains the overall functionality status on all tested aspects.

In Alpha and Beta is where testers start creating documentation for their tests. This is the time filled with creating test plans, estimating timeframes for testing and risk assessment meetings. They test every little area of a game, replaying the same level multiple times to check if it completes correctly, if it has art bugs, if it can be broken or exploited.

During the final stage of a project, they test more in-depth, paying more attention to small bugs and spotting hindering or blocking issues from the first few hours of tests. This is the time where every mistake counts and even the smallest moment of not paying attention could cost the QA, development, production and publishers everything.

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TYPICAL WORKDAY?

On any typical workday, you will be busy understanding requirements documents, reporting and re-testing bugs, attending review meetings and other team building activities, participating into multiplayer sessions with other colleagues, send daily status reports through rotation, etc.

Please note that you do not need all the technical skills.

At Whyttest, we are more than happy to help you boost your career progression as a videogame tester.

Join us and find out more…

Alexandru Zaharia
Software Testing Manager @ Whyttest
Categories:
  People, Testing
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