September 2011 to Present
My current post is a full time quality assurance role within Sony’s Network FQA department. I applied to this post during my time on the late shift as I wanted to secure a more permanent position. The department consists of 16 testers, 2 lead testers, a line manager and a supervisor all located in the same room. Initially, I was hired on a 3 month probationary period with a view to becoming permanent after a year.
I was paired with an experienced tester who was working in his 7th year in the department, essentially shadowing the processes he went through in a normal work day. Even though we were working in larger teams of anything from 4 to 16 people for every title, the one-on-one training was highly beneficial and meant that I became familiar with the role speedily. After just 2 weeks in the new position, I was entrusted with taking charge of my first title.
I joined the department just before the arrival of the PlayStation®Vita system onto the market. As a result my probationary period was extended to 6 months along with the other 2 people who started with me. After 6 months however, I finished my probationary period and my training. I became a permanent staff member after a year in the job.
The core task I carry out on a daily basis is making sure that the titles, patches and downloadable content submitted to Network fully comply with the relevant Technical Requirement Checklist (TRC). Any contraventions of the TRC’s results in the reproduction of discovered issues and writing well-structured bugs to help developers resolve them.
Throughout my time in the department, I have honed my bug writing skills as I see this as the key role of QA as an essential and productive piece of the gaming industry. I am frequently commended for the quality of my bugs, which I take a large amount of pride in.
Every title, patch or piece of downloadable content that comes in to the department also has to pass additional checklists concerning their network functionality outside of the TRC standards.
Each shift in work requires every tester to be organised, communicative, cooperative and mindful of their time management. The sheer amounts of submissions we get through every shift means leadership of titles cycles around every tester in the department. A minimum of twice a shift I am in charge of a team, small or large, ensuring we efficiently complete our work. QA is a fast paced work environment. Efficiency is definitely the key word.
Being a Trainer
As of April 2013, I have been in charge of training new members of the department in the same capacity as the guy who trained me. After only 2 years in the job, I am very pleased to have been assigned this task as I feel the effort I put in every day is being recognised as something above and beyond what is expected of me.
Training someone to be a valued member of the department is very daunting assignment and pretty stressful at times, but I have thoroughly been enjoying the experience.
As well as the previously mentioned training tasks, I have completed a couple of courses including ‘ITQ level 2′ (for which I have achieved a certificate of qualification) and ‘Beginner’s Japanese’. I am currently awaiting confirmation of acceptance on to a ‘Managing for Results’ course that was recommended to myself by my supervisors and lead testers. While there are very few chances to ascend in my current role, due to the longevity of the relevant incumbent staff, if an opportunity were to arise, I feel that I am among the front few to move up. Almost zero lates, sickness days and a continuing high level of performance getting me to where I am now.
A QA role provides the strengthening and improving of an uncountable amount of skills, the following are those I believe to be the most important for the position.
A flexible and competent use of the English language is necessary. Relating any discovered issues to the developers who will be looking to fix them is very important. If a member of staff can’t describe how to reproduce an issue efficiently, confusion can occur and more bugs could be created. The development cycle is indeed iterative, but the number of iterations can be kept to a minimum. I have also found that I am (more often than not) able to reproduce even the most bizarre of bugs. I put this down to my understanding of how games are developed.
Good team working skills are vital in this role and getting along with everyone in the department is a must.
Time management needs to be spot on for quality assurance. With so many titles being started and needing completion before the end of the 4 day shift, work needs to be completely as efficiently as possible.