Game Development Reference
Many aspects of the tester's work have been described in earlier chapters of this topic.
However, within the context of the overall game team, there is a paradoxical relation-
ship between programmers and testers that is based on the fact that they both want
the same outcome—producing a superb game—but have opposing roles in making
Test engineers will sometimes be identified by other tiles such as game tester, QA game
tester, or QA engineer. Their job is to break stuff while the programmers are trying to
make them work. Testers focus on what is wrong with the game and programmers are
looking to make things right. Both should approach their job with passion and fervor.
However, both can also work with each other to be better at what they do. A tester can
do her job better by gaining insight into how the code is designed and produced, and
then exploiting that in the way the game tests are written and executed. The develop-
er can continue to improve his code and write better code to begin with by learning
from what kinds of problems the testers are finding.
One way to tell if this relationship is healthy—either at the individual or the team
level—is to see how the two groups interact when the time comes to verify a bug. In a
healthy relationship, testers will work closely with programmers and together they will
experiment and collaborate to track down a particularly difficult bug. Unhealthy
behavior includes finger-pointing, shouting, and bad-mouthing their counterparts.
Beta testers are a very special component of the game team. They provide a “volunteer
army�? of testers made up of game players who sign up to donate their time to playing
pre-release “Beta�? versions of a game. The size of the Beta testing team can range from
several dozen to several hundred or more. They can expect to endure severe game
problems and frequent downloads of new game releases or patches. To get this privi-
lege, Beta testers commit to documenting any problems they find so the game pro-
grammers can have the opportunity to fix those defects prior to the official release of
the game. Beta bug reporting is typically done by emailing problem forms or posting
to special Beta tester message forums set up by the game company.
For their efforts, Beta testers can be rewarded in various ways, such as:
getting special items to use in the released game
getting to keep their characters
getting first dibs on particular character names