At Dawn on the Fifth Day, Look to the EastAnonymous
When I was in college, I got my first opportunity to work in the industry, joining a developer working on a high-profile downloadable title. As my work responsibilities weren’t always needed, I volunteered to spend my extra time with the QA staff. The local team was small, and work largely involved verifying that bugs were fixed in builds before sending them out to the publisher’s QA department for more rigorous testing.
Being my first job in the industry, I was fortunate to have joined an amazing team, who were very supportive and integrated with QA, and really made us feel like part of the family. We spent long days and nights working in one (very hot) room together, but my work felt validated.
One very early morning, after coming off a 20+ hour shift of preparing a build for certification submission, I was walking home with my QA lead, an amazing guy who mentored me through starting in the industry. We had both discovered a bug that we couldn’t get proper repro steps for, and after several exhausting hours of experimenting, were told by our project lead to walk away and go sleep.
We walked about 5 blocks from the studio when my lead got this determined look, and said he had to go back and convince our project lead to let him reproduce and fix the bug before we submitted. We’d been worked to the core, but he was still motivated to make sure we had done the best possible job we could. As I rode the bus home, I got a text from him. “I’m gonna stay to figure this out.” Getting off the bus at the next stop, I replied “Be right there,” and ran back to the studio.
We sat down and worked, just us, our project manager, and one amazing programmer who had stayed the night with us. We did everything we could to fix this one last bug before submission. Soon, it was near 9AM, and the dev staff were beginning to filter in. Suddenly, it clicked, we had finally figured it out. We detailed the steps, the programmer fixed the bug, and we submitted the build. As it uploaded, we sat back in our project manager’s office and cracked open a beer, watching the sun rise.
QA is a tough process. It’s repetitive grunt-work, and can sometimes can take unbelievable amounts of time. And of course, there are horror stories. I’ve experienced some myself. If mismanaged and mistreated, it can be a nightmare to be stuck in the trenches for months on end. But when you’re working on something you love, with people you care about, and staff who support you, sometimes you can come out feeling like a hero.