Ceased Trading. 12th Sept 2013
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Job Roles: QA (Testing)

The game industry has matured over the last 30 years as the scope of games has rapidly expanded. Game teams can now number more than 50 people, and as such, job roles have begun to fragment into more specialised areas. Read through the job role descriptions to find out exactly what each one entails. If you are looking to enter the industry there are additional guidelines on where you need to concentrate your creative efforts to increase your chances of success in our Getting the Job section.

If you're interested in a work placement please click here to find out more.

QA Overview

Quality Assurance is a great 'foot in the door' for the games industry. There has been, and continues to be, an impressive turn-over of people starting their careers in QA and progressing to positions such as Artist, Designer, Audio Technician and Programmer, even into PR and Project Management. Working so closely with the development teams means that you get hands-on experience and knowledge about many of the skills and procedures that make up the development cycle.

That said, it is important to remember that working in QA is not an easy way into the industry; it requires you to be methodical, organised and hard-working, with good communication skills and a professional work ethic. The typical QA role within the industry focuses primarily on finding problems (known as bugs) and documenting clearly and concisely where and under precisely what conditions the problem was observed. Testing schedules must be planned and test plans in line with the development schedule must also be implemented. QA are required to read all relevant documentation and be involved with comparing designs in development with current published games. They will also make recommendations and suggestions for improvements and provide feedback on the progress of titles in QA to the teams on a regular basis. It is very important that QA Technicians are up-to-date with the latest games and are 'game experts'.

QA Technician

QA Finding bugs: A QA Technician's main role is to find and report bugs and defects in a product (that is, a game in development). This is achieved by conducting structured testing in all areas of the title. Once a bug or defect has been found, the QA Technician firstly needs to see if it can be reproduced and to what degree, then detail what the cause of the bug is if possible and finally accurately document the issue into a bug database.

An essential part of the role is being able to write highly-detailed, descriptive bug reports for the development team. A well-written bug report should include a detailed title, a full description of what the bug is, accurate reproduction steps that any member of the dev team should be able to follow, the frequency with which the bug occurs, a screenshot when necessary, the platform being tested and the product version number of the build in which the bug was discovered. Including all of this information in the bug report allows the dev team to get working on the fix straight away.

Game quality: A QA Technician's other main responsibility in addition to locating bugs is to ensure that the product's game-play, game-play mechanics and game flow are of a high standard. During the testing cycle playthroughs and evaluations of the products are conducted to ensure that the games are fun to play, that they are neither too hard nor too easy, and that the game-play is balanced correctly.

Focus tests are also often held for the titles we have in development. A focus test is an evaluation procedure that is conducted by a group of people in the desired age band of a product, often people external to the company. This is an extremely useful test as it allows the developers to see first hand if people find a game too easy or too hard to play and if they have trouble working out what they should do next, as well as seeing if the game-play mechanics are working as designed.

Resources

For application advice and information please see the Getting the Job: QA (Testing) section.