Wednesday, December 25, 2013

How video game testers work?

Video games or computer games are available on a number of devices such as consoles, computers and mobiles. They are enjoyed by countless number of people. Video games have existed for a long time now. However, with artistic and technological advances, the video games have become very complex. This complexity needs serious game testing. Game testing is intense work but fulfilling because the game industry is growing rapidly. Game testing involves a number of tasks. It also needs a passion for playing games. The role of a game tester is to provide objective information about the game. What are the good things about the game? What things about the game should change? Are there any bugs or glitches in the game? Does the game work with good performance?

Learn from my video, How to Test Games Software or read on.

Game Testing

The main objective of a game is to have fun. The definition of fun is different for different gamers. The game tester has to know the target users and what they find enjoyable. Other than the fun element, a game may have objectives like developing cognitive/ motor skills or gamer education. Moreover, a game may have a background, a timeline, a plot, characters, theme, graphics, events, scores, levels, paths and other elements. The game tester needs to test each of the above elements with respect to the game objectives and contemporary games in the market. From the first testable code through to release, the game developers provide game builds to the game tester. The game tester should run the following tests.

Installation testing
Unless it is a (totally) web-based game or an embedded game, there is some software that the player needs to install on their device first. The installation process has a series of steps that need to be tested on each supported device configuration used by gamers. The game tester should run the steps on each supported device configuration. He should also check the completeness and accuracy of the content in the installation guide.

Feature and Functional testing
This is the most important game test. Typically, the game would have a number of features. The game tester should test the game features fully. The items that need to be tested include basic game play like start/ suspend/ resume/ stop/ start a saved game, game options, progression from one level to the next, correct scores and correct working of the controls. Then, the game tester should test if the game is true to its background, timeline, theme, plot, characters and other elements. The game tester should also test game events, if any and concurrency of multiple gamers in multi-player games.
In order to find the bugs, the game tester should be creative by taking different paths and performing unexpected actions in the game. In addition to finding the bugs, the game tester should estimate how well the game meets its objectives. Also, identify improvement opportunities in the game.

User Interface (UI) testing
This is also an important game test. UI testing includes testing of the graphic elements (e.g. characters in the plot, backgrounds, floors, objects and people) and the content (both viewable and audible). If the game is targeted for multiple languages and cultures, the game tester should test it in each supported language.

Performance testing
A novel story line, incredible graphics, sounds, music and numerous well-integrated features of a game may still fail to satisfy the player if the game is too slow or freezes. The game tester should test the speeds of operation of the game on supported device configurations. The game tester should also play the game at extremes, for example, run a complete game without any pauses at all or run a game continuously for 24 hours or keep on increasing the number of players if the game is multi-player. These tests show the performance bugs.

Alpha test and Beta test support
Once the game development is complete, it is released to few reviewers (alpha test). The game tester should explain the game details to the alpha testers and get their feedback. Then gather alpha test bugs or improvement opportunities, confirm these and pass the valid bugs and change requests to the developers. The game tester should test the game changes and bug fixes before the new build is given to the alpha group.
Once the game is released to a limited number of gamers for their review (beta test), the game tester should confirm the bugs reported by beta testers. Then provide these to the developers. The game tester should test the bug fixes before the final release of the game to market.

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