My friends and family often ask about my profession. When I say, “I’m a games tester”, it’s usually followed by “Is that a real job?” or “Really? Is that what you do for a living?
There are usually three types of people who ask these questions:
- The not so tech-savvy
- The tech-savvy
- The envious, they’re convinced I play games all day!
Having had these conversations repeatedly, I decided it was time to demystify what I do.
Games testers play a vital role at Miniclip
We want our players, our customers, to have the very best experience of new games and features we release. Every platform and genre need games testers. Working with developers we also help identify bugs and glitches.
We thoroughly test all aspects, options and functionality of the games before the final version is released. For those who are not ‘gamers’, perhaps the following analogy will help.
Imagine that the act of frying an egg is a game called, ‘Fry an egg’. ‘Fry an egg’ has a set of rules and goals, which when combined form the ‘recipe’.
The rules are:
- Grease a frying pan
- Put the frying pan over a medium-high heat source
- When the frying pan is hot, crack an egg and pour it into the pan
- Season the egg
- After 2-3 minutes of frying, serve the egg on a plate.
The goals are:
- The fried egg should be circular shaped
- The fried egg must be tasty
- The fried egg should be served on a plate.
As a games tester, I try out the rules of the recipe to see if the goals can be achieved. If the rules are respected and the goals achieved, ‘Fry an egg’ will be ready for worldwide public ‘consumption’.
I choose a small pan and put it on medium heat. I add a dash of olive oil, crack my XL egg into it, and cook for three minutes. After adding salt and pepper, I serve it on a round dessert plate.
I feel confident I’ve achieved all three of my goals. But is it ready for worldwide ‘consumption’?
After reading the rules a second time, I realised I’d made quite a few assumptions. For example, I chose the pan size, type of oil, size of the egg, and decided on the cooking time. In theory, I played ‘the game’ how I would usually play games. But we all play games differently.
My team and I discuss how we can make the rules less flexible and subjective, to maximise the chance of everyone achieving the same goals. We tweak the recipe and define new rules:
- Grease a small frying pan
- Place the frying pan on an induction cooktop on a medium heat
- Crack a large egg and pour it into the small frying pan
- Season the egg
- Serve the fried egg on a dinner
With the new rules defined, I test them again. I notice that some rules are still open to interpretation. For example, I can use olive oil, butter, coconut oil or margarine to grease the pan. I could place a round object inside the frying pan to make the egg circular, and I could use herbs as a seasoning. Despite the many possible options, as a games tester, if the goals are not compromised, ‘Fry an egg’ could very well be ready for worldwide consumption. But we agree more robust rules are needed.
Bring in the Bugby’s
My team and I decide we need help in checking each possibility. We bring in the help of the superior ‘Bugby’ robots. These robots are configured to test a wide variety of rules for ‘Fry an egg’, providing me with a report of the rules followed, and determine if the goals are then achieved.
‘Bugby’s’ spot all the inconsistencies in the game, so I can create new rule paths or work on new recipes with my team.
Now, I am confident that ‘Fry an egg’ is ready for worldwide consumption!
So, there you have it, as a games tester you need to be fully aware of the feature you are working with, get well acquainted with it, and always question it again and again.
No ‘Bugby’ robots were harmed while writing this article.
Written by António Santos, our Senior Games Tester at Miniclip. He’s been a games tester for eight years and started at Miniclip as a Junior Games Tester.
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