Game Development Reference
In your testing career, avoid the use of the verb “to play�? when you refer to game testing. This will
help to counter the widely held notion that your department “just plays games for a living.�? It will
also help to reinforce to your test team that your work is just that, work. I've taken to correcting
people who refer to testing as playing with the following observation: “The first time you play
through a game, you're playing. The fortieth time, you're working.�?
If You're Not Taping, You're Not Testing
You should constantly take notes as you're testing through the game. Game designer
Will Wright ( The Sims ) has said that gameplay is made up of “interesting decisions.�?
It is imperative that you keep track of these decisions—writing down which options
you choose, paths you take, weapons you equip, plays you call, and so on—in a very
meticulous and diligent manner. In so doing, when you encounter a defect, you will
better be able to come up with a reproducible path (see the following sidebar, “How
to be a Repro Man (or Woman)�?).
Documentation may be difficult when you're in the middle of a 12-trick chain in a To ny
Hawk -style stunt game. That's where videotape becomes an almost indispensable test
tool. Every tester should have console, a TV, and a VCR with a tape to record every
move they make in the game. (PC testers will need a video card with a TV output.)
Taping should not become a crutch, or an excuse for less-than-diligent work on the
part of the tester. It should serve as a research tool and a last-resort means of reporting
a defect. Use the following steps as a guide when you are taping:
1. Start the VCR and press the record button before you start the game.
(It's too easy to forget, otherwise.)
2. When you come to a defect you can't reproduce, rewind the tape, study the
tape, then show it to your test lead and colleagues to discuss what may have
caused the bug and whether anyone else has seen the same behavior in
3. If you absolutely, positively cannot reproduce the defect, rip a clip of the
video to an .AVI file or other digital format. This will allow you to attach
the video to a bug report, email it to the developer, or even keep it on your
computer for reference.
4. Once you've filled up a videotape, replace it with a fresh one in your VCR.
Keep the old tape in a safe spot for a couple of days, however, in case you
need to refer back to it.
It's generally safe to record over the old tape once the next build enters test.