This is, by far and away, the most common question I get when I tell people that I test video games. As glamorous as the role of QA Tester may sound, there’s not really an easy answer for that question.
As a Quality Assurance (QA) tester, my job is to find errors or “bugs” in the games. The good part is that sometimes the bugs occur in the actual gameplay. So, yes, sometimes I’m able to sit and play the game in the hopes of catching glitch, a problem with the graphics, or sometimes even a crash.
But once the gameplay bugs are found, the search begins for hidden bugs. These are trickier, and they require a lot more creative thinking. These are the bugs that are usually hidden in parts of the games such as menus, the settings, turning on and off the device and checking to see if the settings are saved, etc.
Once these bugs are found, we also have to figure out why they are happening. I usually start by doing the exact same process to see if the problem happens again. After trying the exact same steps a few times and confirming that the bug occurs consistently, I will then start to “narrow down” the steps. I begin by removing steps until I can figure out exactly which steps are required to reproducing the issue. Once the steps are reduced to as few as possible, I report the bug which is then sent to our producers and engineers.
Here at Mobile Deluxe, we have high levels of standards for quality, and we’re very ambitious in that we want our games to be able to sync and share Rewards Credits across multiple platforms such as Facebook, Android, iTunes and more. In order to achieve this, we have to test all of these same issues on each device and on all of our different games.
Trying to keep all of those things straight and remembering to check individual features on each of our hundreds of devices would be impossible. To help make the impossible possible, that’s when we rely on our QA Analyst and Lead Tester, Sean Foreman.
Sean has to learn all of the new features that are going to be added to an existing game or new project. Because of Sean’s many, many years of testing, he’s familiar with what types of errors might occur when these features are added and what steps to take to check for them. He then includes those steps along with other common problems into a large checklist that is known as a “Test Plan.”
Once the features are included into the game and we’ve had a chance to run minor tests, the game is installed on multiple devices and handed out to testers. From there, we follow the steps on the Test Plan to ensure that the layouts are correct and that all of the features work on each device. This is a powerful tool, and it allows us to find bugs that exist on only certain devices that we may not normally test.
This process covers most bugs. But then are also the bugs that occur because no one actually thinks of that bizarre scenario.
Imagine this: You’re close to winning an exciting Tournament on our Big Win Blackjack game. You get the option to Double your bet on the last hand, which could give you the win. As you’re about to press the button, you get a call from a long-time friend. After talking for a while, you finish the call because your battery is almost dead. Your phone soon powers down and now you have to recharge the battery. But wait… did the game reset? Did you lose your hand? Is the option to Double still available? What happened to your awesome Blackjack tournament?!
The answer is: It’s all still there
That’s because our QA Lead and Super-Stud tester, Rolando, already tried it. Rolando has an amazing talent for testing and discovering bugs that most of us wouldn’t even think of trying to test. What’s even more amazing is not just that he’s tried it, but that he’s tried several variations of that scenario on numerous devices and at different places all throughout all of our games.
Once we’ve scoured the game for bugs, we receive a new version or “update” of the game, and we verify whether all of the bugs are fixed or if they still exist.
Then we will begin the entire process all over again, and again, and again…for every new feature, for every new update, for every new device platform, and for every game. We will follow these steps on the same game for the same devices for months, for this is our level of dedication to quality here at Mobile Deluxe.
“So do you just play games all day?”
The short answer is: No. We must attack games all day.