I’ve overheard countless conversations from people discussing how people can, ”get paid to play games.” They talk of a world where energy drinks, fast food, and a lifetime of playing the worlds newest games is their dream land. Clutching to the ideas that being a game tester is a place where employees ride unicorns to work, and fast travel through Skyrim on rainbows of happiness. Not only are these people delusional, but they’re dead wrong.
Jimmy Thang, an editor at IGN, posted an eye-opening article, highlighting the tribulations QA testers must endure in the game industry. At the risk of being fired, or worse, for breaking their NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreements) testers spoke out, under promises of remaining anonymous. These sources discussed a variety of topics such as harsh working conditions, poor job security, lack of respect, tedious tasks, and more.
A source contributed his personal experience with harsh working conditions stating:
“Once the overtime starts, the hours seem to be nearly endless…My longest period of straight overtime lasted just over seven months where my shortest work week was 65 hours and my longest was 92. This was stretched out over two projects that just bled straight into each other.”
Publishers and developers need testers to ensure that a game is polished, perfected, and ready to be played. With such long and strenuous hours, you have to question just how effective can they be with a 92 hour work week? Even with such dedication to perfecting the games they work on, QA testers are faced with the shattering reality of a sheer lack of respect as well.
Know how you see all of those pictures from your favorite studios parties? Well, next time you flip through the album look out for a QA member, chances are they might not be there. One contributor shed some light on how they’re treated come celebration time:
“We deserve to be treated like regular employees, instead of someone you don’t invite to your Christmas party but then tell them to have their own last minute [party] in another building through the back entrance…True story.”
QA testers can arguably be one of the most important members of the development team, yet it seems that the mentality of who is most important, is the heart of the problem. Many people are trying to place an importance on a single part of the machine instead of seeing them all as a whole. Strip away one working piece, and the entire creation is lost. QA testers are a part of the bigger puzzle, and while many may see them as small, they are still a part of the picture at the end. Without a single piece, no matter how small, you’ll never be able to say it’s complete.