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GCG: 'The Acid Test: QA As A Bridge To A Game Career'

In the latest feature for Gamasutra sister educational site Game Career Guide, we investigate quality assurance as its own career path, and whether it can sti
In the latest feature for Gamasutra sister educational site Game Career Guide, Alistair Wallis investigates quality assurance as its own career path, and whether it can still be used as a stepping stone into other career options in game industry. In this excerpt, Toys For Bob producer Alex Ness, Evolution Studios' Vicky Rowley and others discuss whether or not people can make QA their own career path, with QA engineer Zachary Slater saying it only will be worthwhile when it is "treated and respected as such" within the industry: "There are some at the company who do want to make a career out of QA and we welcome and encourage that," [Rowley] comments. "In fact, it is a myth that everyone in the industry needs to be passionate about games: it is fantastic to find people who are passionate about proper software testing - who read the right books, attend the right conferences etc. QA work at Evo is an important part of the development process, and can it significantly help or impede a business at critical times of the project depending on whether it is done well or not." Ness agrees: "I personally feel like QA can be a pretty worthwhile career path but you're not likely to make the big bucks unless you're at the upper management level. Also, even if someone enjoys working in QA a lot and doesn't look at it as a stepping stone to other opportunities, they may still get pretty damn curious about what it would be like to do something else, after working with games for a while. That's pretty much what happened to me." "I certainly think it can be a career path," Hines notes, "and we have some folks in our own QA dept. who I sort of hope stay on that path because they are really good at what they do - fill key roles in our QA dept. - and so if they were ever to move on to another job it'd be disappointing not to have them there anymore. But if it's so that they can move on to a job they've always wanted and have earned, I'd be thrilled for them." Slater believes that "QA could be a worthwhile career path for console and computer games if only it were treated and respected as such". "It isn't," he says, "and probably won't be. Game developers and publishers seem to regard QA as an unfortunate expense required in the development process. It is a problem for anyone who wants to actually focus on it that they won't be respected for doing so. When you're asked, ‘Where you want to be in five years?' the answer is rarely QA. People who do answer this question with QA are regarded as underachievers. Testers must continue with their careers path until they are able to make changes in the field of testing for the better. Many people who I have seen move on from testing, do so at the expense of becoming similar to hazing victims: they move on to treating testers just as poorly as they were treated." You can now read the full Game Career Guide feature on the subject, with more from a variety of QA professionals and industry veterans on the positives and negatives of working in QA, and whether or not it can still lead to other positions in the industry (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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