Torus Games

August 2014

You Get Paid to Play Games All Day?

Video game testing is probably high on lists of ‘fun jobs which aren’t as fun as you would think’.

Torus hires game testers on full-time contracts, casual contracts and fixed-term contracts depending on our requirements. Long described as an industry stepping-stone, several of our team members got their start in QA. Some are still there. Those that have moved on did so after many years of hard work and further (or even autodidactic) education.

Available QA positions tend to attract a lot of applicants. We regularly get submissions for testing positions with the applicant stating, enthusiastically, that they will do anything to get into the industry. Even QA! Unfortunately, that applicant has just insulted the very department they wish to join. We’ve had experience with people joining the testing team and becoming jaded after 6 months, on the realisation that testing is actually hard work and there is no guarantee of a quick ‘promotion’ to game designer.

Testers are our last line of defense. They’re the last to leave on milestone day. They might be required to spend hours upon hours testing a single difficult bug, or have to repeatedly run through the entire game testing bugs which occur right at the end. Their observation skills must be turned up to 11. Our new testers learn very quickly that playing games at home for fun is very different to testing games at a commercial developer. They only test portions of it for the most part. They start with a game which is nowhere near completion. It probably isn’t the type of game they like to play. It’s unfinished. It’s buggy. It’s broken. They might be working on it anywhere between a few weeks to several years. And the gold master date is inexorably moving ever closer.

The best testers are the ones who break the game. They find bugs which might not be apparent on a standard play-through, and they know exactly what they did to cause the issue. They produce clear, systematic bug reports with easily-reproducible step-by-step instructions on the bugs they find – a report is worthless and the issue unfixable if you can’t make it happen again. They know how to conduct testing on hardware and to carefully follow the technical requirements issued by the first-party publisher, as well as keeping abreast of any updated guidelines which may be issued. They pay attention to the daily team schedule – what is being worked on today that might cause a problem?

Testers reinforce milestone dates to the rest of the team. They keep everyone updated regarding builds and bug numbers. They often work on multiple projects across multiple platforms, managing multiple project databases. They make sure builds are stable before sending them out and follow through on persistent bugs, even if the other team member really, really doesn’t want to hear that their fix didn’t work.

On a personal level, testers need to be cool under pressure. Like any other team-oriented job, they need to be able to develop good rapports with the rest of the team, because they will be required to communicate with other departments and individuals regularly. Their writing skills must be excellent and also concise. We can’t have any long-winded, over-descriptive epistles, but we can’t have text-speak either.

A tester’s CV and cover letter tell us a lot about the individuals who apply – not just the wording and their relevant experience, but their presentation as a gestalt whole. A background in testing games is obviously an advantage, but we also like to see software testing experience from any industry. When we interview, we’re checking a person’s potential fit for the team, as well as their problem-solving abilities and flexibility.

So next time you think testing games is a big joke, think again.

Torus Games is a highly skilled and talented computer game development studio. We are positioned in the heart of the industry, developing products on all consumer platforms for the world's largest publishers. Torus' strengths include state-of-the-art cross-platform technology, commitment to quality and a veteran development team. Torus has delivered over 80 titles and over 140 SKUs for many happy customers.Follow TorusGames on Twitter
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