Game testing – An Introduction
“A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”
– Shigeru Miyamoto
Game testing is a specific type of software testing focused on video games, that can be extended and used in the ever growing market of entertainment and educational software (apps, simulators, video games, presentations etc.)
As a part of software testing, most of the testing methodologies, practices and techniques will work and are used within game testing. Proper understanding of what is a defect (*bug), how can you find it and proper reporting and triaging (sorting of issues based on their level of priority) are the ‘bread and butter’ work of any tester involved in such projects.
Also, game testing will show its own set of particularities and aspects that will have a bigger impact on the testing process compared to for example a web testing project.
In my opinion, it all starts with the product and its intended audience. Video games tend to be very complex pieces of software that, besides a complex and stable technology (the game engine) also have different elements and mechanics (gameplay) that are created to trigger overlapping responses in and from the user (emotions, mechanical proficiency, intellectual challenges, self fulfilment etc.). As such, a game tester must always have in mind all these specific aspects when verifying and reporting on the project he is assigned to.
The very simple answer to that is to ‘always think like an end-user’. What am I supposed to see, do, understand, feel and react as a user? Is this an intended experience, is this an intended behavior or response that the ‘game’ is requiring of me? Am I having fun? If not, why? All this layer of thinking gets over the ‘normal’ scrutiny that a tester has when observing and using the software.
The product (type, platform, hardware) will determine the expected responses, while the end-users thinking will define how good the ‘entertainment’ value is. This approach will also generate a huge amount of reports and issues, for example technical reports, gameplay reports and logical reports. As such, the triaging part of the testing process becomes critical in managing and eventually getting ready to release and deliver the product.
Entertainment software development tends to be a complex affair and most of the time on a ‘not enough time’ schedule. Close to the release date, the pressure is quite high and the whole team gets to feel the unglamorous effects of development crunch. This is a ‘normal day at the office’ part of the game testers life. How can a tester manage this and how do you plan to test such complex software? We’ll talk about this.. soon™!!.