So now that we know about who Gazillion is, what quality assurance actually is, and the backstory on the team’s manager, it is time to introduce you to the team of testers. Gazillion’s QA Team comes from a wide range of backgrounds – some with heavy art backgrounds, others with tenured QA experience, and some with just a genuine interest and desire to get into gaming and help be part of the process. Having the opportunity to sit with the majority of the team, I got to know them and to understand what drives them to come back to work every day. It was truly a heartwarming experience.
Tester Chris Ohanesian gave me a lot of insight on how the culture really makes a difference here. “Of course nobody wants to get up in the morning and go to work, but when I park outside and see the building, I’m happy. I really am happy to be here. I don’t know if you get these glowing marks that make it seem suspicious, but I really like it here. The culture is cool, and so is everyone who works here. I’m really happy.”
The social stigmas and stereotypes about QA are honestly disgusting – the main problem being most larger studios treat them in ways which make them think they really are worthless. An anonymous reader told me “Someone has called them [QA] monkeys on a habitual basis across every project I’ve ever worked on. Contractors have zero pull even when asked their opinions, if at all. Generally, QA is last to know and first to blame.” Twitter user Cigargoyle chimed in as well, “[People always think] buggy game. The testers must not have been doing their job!” Tester and designer Ruairi Rodinson expressed his frustration, too. “It’s hard to persuade [smaller] teams how critical an outside point of view is, and how QA isn’t just bugs, but design, too.”
As someone who has been on the journalism side of things, visiting studios here and there, and having friends in QA, I have seen some frightening work conditions. An old co-worker of mine went off to do QA for a AAA studio, only to leave nearly two years later due to being underpaid, overworked, and unappreciated. I have friends who worked for large studios for years and got their contracts terminated for things that seemed silly – things that could have been avoided had they been working under humane and fair circumstances. Knowing there is at least one company out there treating their testers well, and doing things right really keeps me optimistic other studios will follow suit.