The role of the game tester in game development primarily involves analyzing video and/or computer games to document software defects as part of a quality control process. While popularized as a dream job for gamers, interactive entertainment software testing is a highly technical field requiring computing expertise, analytic competence, thick skin, and the ability to endure long hours.
Kef Sensei has developed a strong QA team and process that starts with the projects and goes along all the game development process which makes sure we don’t have unexpected delays late in the development process.
Once the testers get a version, they begin playing the game. Testers must carefully note any errors they uncover. These may range from bugs to art glitches to logic errors and level bugs. Some bugs are easy to document (“Level 5 has a floor tile missing in the opening room”), but many are hard to describe and may take several paragraphs to describe so a developer can replicate or find the bug. On a large-scale game with numerous testers, a tester must first determine whether the bug has already been reported before they can log the bugs themselves. Once a bug has been reported as fixed, the tester has to go back and verify the fix works.
This type of “playing” is tedious and grueling. Usually an unfinished game is not fun to play, especially over and over. A tester may play the same game—or even the same level in a game—over and over for eight hours or more at a time. If testing feature fixes, the tester may have to repeat a large number of sequences just to get to one spot in the game.
In software development quality assurance, it is common practice to go back through a feature set and ensure that features that once worked still work near the end of development. This kind of aggressive quality assurance—called regression testing—is most difficult for games with a large feature set. If a new bug is discovered in a feature that used to work, once it is fixed, regression testing has to take place again.
As games have become more complex, a larger pool of quality assessment (QA) resources is necessary. This being the case, most publishers have a large QA staff that they have testing various games from different developers.
Usually one group of testers will work on the same game from the beginning of the QA process to the time the game ships (goes “gold”). Thus, they become experts at the game and become familiar with all its nuances and weaknesses. Normally a group of testers will work on from one to two games at a time, depending on each game’s scale. As one game nears completion, they may focus more time on it as the QA requirements escalate. Near the end of development, the QA staff may relocate to the development location in order to provide intensive QA work and be easily accessible to developers.