QA Testing Departments Are Overworked - But We Still Had Fun
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QA Testing Departments Are Overworked  -  But We Still Had Fun

It’s Friday evening at 6:00 and as usual everyone is going home for the weekend except the testing department. We are on our 5th straight day of working 12 hours per day. This is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for most QA testing departments in big video game companies during crunch time.

ABSOLUTE ENTERTAINMENT, INC TESTING DEPARTMENT

I am the QA test manager overseeing a department of six testers. Four of them tested one level each of a game that had 4 levels for the entire 12 hour day. Over and over and over again, trying to narrow down the steps to reproduce of an elusive crash bug and trying to capture it on video.

The other two testers were actually testing the entire 4 levels of the game, also searching for the elusive crash bug but by actually going through the entire game from start to finish, over and over and over again. I am in my office pouring over bug reports and entering them into the master database. The programmer of the game in testing is sleeping on his recliner in his cubical. – Yes he had an actual recliner in his cubical. lol

FREE FOOD & DRINKS

My eyes are about ready to pop out of my head as I constantly look over all of these bugs, trying to determine if I should report them or not. Were they serious enough for us to spend the time fixing them when there are more serious bugs to fix first? So I get up and walk out to my testers and say, I’m going to the lunch room. Anybody want anything? Pepsi! - Mountain Dew! - Reese’s Pieces and a Coke! - An OJ and an Apple Strudel! - A Diet Coke! - Some of that left over Pizza from dinner!

I come back with a computer cart covered with everyone’s order. I serve my testers their orders and then I go back into my office and continue working. Then around 9:30 PM the programmer knocks on my door, pops his head in and says he’s going home. He’ll return sometime on Saturday afternoon. I say good night and he leaves. So I think to myself, well we might as well stop working as well.

I go out to my testers and ask if any of them have anything new to report. They say that they didn’t find the crash nor did they have anything new to report. So I tell them to each email me their bug reports and I’ll look at them in the morning whenever I finally stroll in. Then I tell them…”It’s time to play.”

TIME FOR SOME FUN

They all cheer loudly, reach under their desks, and pull out their own favorite style of Nerf Guns. Loading them up like an infantry squad ready to go into battle. It is time to use the entire office as our battle ground. We used the testing lab, the tech lab, the creative lab, the audio lab, the art studio, the executive area, the reception area, and the main hallway.

I would pick somewhere in the testing lab to hide a red flag and it would be the 4 junior testers against me my assistant QA manager and the Lead tester. There were only two ways into the testing department and one of the ways was through a door that would beep every time it would open.

So the four junior testers would gather on the opposite side of the office in the executive area, my two senior testers were hiding out in the creative lab area and I was guarding to open entrance to the testing lab. If the door that beeps was breached I could quickly cover that area too. So I turn off some of the lights in the lab to make it a little darker and then I get on the intercom system and announce the start of the competition.

IT IS A WAR ZONE

It’s stone cold quiet for about a few minutes and then in the distance I hear gun fire, POP! - POP! - POP! -- WOOSH! - WOOSH! -- POP! -- WOOSH! - WOOSH! … FALL BACK! - FALL BACK! - LET’S REGROUP! Then it goes quiet for about 5 minutes. One of my guys comes back and says he thought he heard one of the junior testers was going to breach the doorway that beeps while the other three come at the two of them. So I prepare by moving a computer cart in front of the doorway.

Now we all played on the honor system and you are out of the game if you get hit 5 times or your gun runs out of ammo, whichever comes first. Each of us had Nerf Guns that held anywhere from 20-30 rounds. So you had to conserve ammo.

One of my guys signals to me that he is going to go out and scout for where they might be because it is too quiet. It was kind of strange how quiet it was, especially since one of the junior testers (Jason) had a gun that had a battery operated motor that would fire Nerf darts like bullets out of a machine gun. You would always know who was attacking you if you couldn't see him.

Then all of a sudden I hear POP! - POP! -- WOOSH! -- BANG! - BANG! - BANG! -- WOOSH! -- POP! - POP! ... THEY’RE RIGHT BEHIND ME! … WOOSH! - WOOSH! … COVER ME! … POP! - POP! -- BANG! - BANG! -- WOOSH! -- POP!

I go to help out as one of my guys is running down one of the pathways in the creative lab towards the testing lab and that’s when I hear the door beep and the computer cart getting knocked over. Then I hear weeerrrrrr! - BAP! - BAP! - BAP! - BAP! - BAP! So I start unloading with my Ball-zooka Nerf Gun BOOSH! - BOOSH! - BOOSH! - BOOSH! - BOOSH!

Long gun battle short, my two guys take out two of the junior testers before running out of ammo and thus out of the game. I finish off the last guy while still holding off Jason and his motorized Nerf Machine Gun. Jason finally overpowers me by using the computer cart as cover as he advanced toward me.

The entire gun battle lasted about 30 minutes then we took another 15 minutes to retrieve all of the spent Nerf bullets, darts and balls. That’s the type of entertainment I would always provide for my testers when we would be working some crazy long hours. - Then there were times that I would take them all out to the local microbrewery, but that’s another story for another time.

IT IS STILL A JOB

Working at a video game company as a full time tester is very hard, repetitive, work for long hours without overtime, because you are on salary, but we compensate that with free drinks and snacks and free dinners when working past 7:00 PM. You also can arrive at work anytime between 9:00 – 9:30 AM, you get an hour for lunch, two 15-minute breaks, and you can come to work dressed in t-shirts, jeans, shorts, sneakers,… And when I am the QA test manager I make sure we have even more after-hours fun. I mean, come on! It is a video game company after all we have to have some sort of fun. Right?


Street Talk

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