Review: Game QA & Testing

Game QA & Testing

Game Development Essentials

I was perusing my school library the other day to see what was new, when I stumbled upon this book. I had never seen a book that focused only on Quality Assurance in the games industry before. Coincidentally, I happen to be teaching a course at the moment, that also focuses on the subject matter. That was more than enough for me to grab this book. It’s been a very long time since I have done QA and maybe there was some new information or procedures that I could learn about, or at least I could find a resource I could point my students towards.

This book, written by Luis Levy and Jeannie Novak, comes in at just over 200 pages and has a supplemental DVD with extra content. They cover a bit of game history and the general development process all from the view of testing products. Levy and Novak made sure to include a plethora of quotes from industry veterans relating to their personal experiences either in QA or working with the QA department. Interestingly, each chapter ends with a review section with a few suggestions on what the reader could do to develop their skills.

I powered through this book in just a couple of hours and I was, unfortunately, not very impressed. This isn’t to say it was all bad as there is always a nugget of gold somewhere. In Game QA & Testing, it was the supplemental DVD. It comes with some games you can test, bug tracking software you can use, and plenty of document examples from companies such as Obsidian. As for the book, if you don’t know much about how the industry works, there is plenty of insight and the writers did ensure that the reader gets a good dose of reality. They are up front with the working conditions many QA people will endure, especially when breaking in.

Now comes the bad part of the review. The book had a great premise, in which the authors state that they “want to take testing to the next level – helping testers to become elite specialists in particular fields“. This book does nothing close to achieving this goal. The writing itself seems more oriented for a glib magazine, with each section barely delving deeper than a brief synopsis of the subject matter. When they talk about becoming an “expert” of testing, their suggestion is that you should essentially become a coder, designer or artist. While everyone who works in games should know a bit about all the disciplines, there is no mention of analytics, which is what testing is all about. The biggest issue we have in Quality Assurance is the lack of useful metrics for the development team.

It gets worse. They have some drawings to represent tester stereotypes, which I found slightly offensive. There are two images to represent women, one is the “blank” which is useless and the “berserker” which argues and complains. Way to promote diversity! Most of the rest of the book seems like filler, especially when they re-cover the same information in a slightly different way as if it were new. Heck, they even reuse the same quote just a few pages a part.

There is no way that I can recommend this book, in fact, I wish I could get my time back that I spent reading it. Maybe one day we will see a good book on Quality Assurance for games , but this is not it.

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