A Day In The Life of a QA Tester
So you want to be a QA Tester. No, really, you do. Out of the many jobs I have had since being a greasy-faced teen entering the job market, this one has been the most fulfilling of them all. It is multi-faceted and fascinating. I never have the same day twice. Although, when meeting new people and coming across the small-talk staple, “So what do you do for a living?” or when trying to describe how I spent my day to my mother, I typically land somewhere near the politely concise, “I test games and apps.” But it is so much more than that.
A QA Tester is a man or woman of many hats. While it is true that I get to play lots of games and fiddle with apps all day, it’s not exactly play. In this portion of the daily grind (see what I did there? I’m sorry, I’ll leave), I essentially have to break what others have built. I consider myself to be close friends with the programmers here, but I have to consistently tell them, “I found this bug. The game exploded. I’m sorry.” They have built great structures and I push their creations to their limits, which is kind of a jerk move. However, they know and I know that it is crucial. Many people don’t consider this, and I didn’t until I worked in the industry, that releasing a product for general consumption is like launching a ship. The champagne bottle has been busted against the hull and you set off for the sunset. However, if there are any holes or gaps or even slight oversights, your customers, like the ocean, will find them immediately and the ship will sink.
And this is where the “Quality” portion of QA Tester comes into play. We, being the employees of Hitcents, are very proud of our work and take what we do seriously. So when someone sends in a help request or complaint, we take that seriously as well. In my case, when I get an e-mail, I work with the person on the other end to get to the root of their problem and help them get the app running as it should. It often feels a little like detective work, which is fun: trying to match their supplied evidence with previous cases, or solving new ones to help others down the road. It is also a window to the world, as I have spoken with people from all kinds of countries and walks of life. Nearly all the jobs I have had focused on customer service, because I’m that kind of person, but this is the first one that people speak earnestly and seem genuinely grateful for the work I do. Although it isn’t necessary, I get a lot of e-mails thanking me for troubleshooting tips, something that sometimes only takes a few seconds to write, and it always brightens my day.
A lot of my interaction with the outside world comes via e-mail, but I do get to see users interact with our apps in real time. This week I’ve started a new venture for me: helping to coordinate focus group testing. It’s a lot of writing questions and creating spreadsheets, (which again, I love because I’m that kind of person) but it also gives a glimpse into how others interact with the things that I encounter every day. For example, we were recently visited by a young man named Noah. He tested a game we have in production. Although I have had nothing to do with the actual programming of the game, I still felt an ounce of pride as he traversed the levels and had a good time doing so. His feedback provided a lot of insight and got us all talking about changes we could make to improve the game, for which we are all grateful.
As someone whose earliest memories consist of playing video games and as an avid app user, it’s an amazing experience to be behind the scenes. Every day I get a little better at understanding all the hard work that goes into something before it hits the app store. My job does boil down to, “I test games and apps”, but in doing so, I help the programmers make a better product and ensure our customers have a positive experience.