My Week as a Game Tester

Some kids want to become rockstars, firefighters or a supreme leader of some random nation. But at some point most of them grow up. Before I learned about paying your bills and stuff my dream was to become a professional game tester. And despite everything my parents told me – it is an actual career choice.

At most studios game testing or “Quality Assurance”  is a critical part of the developing process. All games are tested and revisioned by an in house department of QAs  (Or sometimes with external “specialists”. Not sure how you can qualify as one of those though!). These people rank pretty low in the hierarchy of the studio and are paid… accordingly. But they are still an important part of the team. For their newest game my favorite studio Daedalic asked their fans to come in and help with the testing. After a rough competition between thousands of fanatic adventurers I proved myself to be worthy and was invited to Hamburg. One week of assuring the quality of their new game “Chaos on Deponia” (The sequel to “Deponia“) followed .

We report it, they fix it.

You have to wear pants?

After travelling all day I still got up early in the morning and went into the office – to start playing. And that was basicly all I did. Shocking, I know! We started at 10 am and, with an hour break for the obligatory fast food, played till 6 pm. It almost seemed like real work but if you’d lose the pants it would have been a LAN party. The QA room was filled with posters, toys and other nerd stuff. So when lying on the couch it felt like you were at home. Some times the “professionals” who worked with us even stayed in late just to play the other games the studio created. “Derrick” for example – with zero customer complaints to date, one of the most stable games ever created!

Every now and then we stepped on bugs. Sometimes they were so severe (The so called “Blockers”) that we couldn’t progress anymore. Like in Monkey Island 1 when you put an item that you would still need into the cooking pot on your ship! That sucked. Everytime we encountered something that had to be fixed or we wanted to be changed we sent a report via “Mantis”  to the wizards down the hall. Carefully thought out descriptions like “Rufus knows too much” made everyone actually tasked with fixing stuff really appreciative of our help! But seeing something you proposed being drawn by an artist just hours later was AWESOME.

"Hello good sir! I come to bring you more work."

Royalty and Liquor

Sometimes the creative head behind the game paid us a visit ( Jan Müller-Michaelis - if you play the first Deponia  game, watch the credits and I am pretty sure you will find him in there… somewhere). It was quite thrilling to talk about a game you loved with the man responsible of it’s creation but it was even funnier watching the other testers squeal in fear when he watched them play. I think their minds just stopped working. They froze like a small dear blinded by the lights of a truck. But he always left before they crashed.

At the end of the week, after forty hours of work, I still felt like gaming and all I wanted was to go home and play some more adventures. Luckily Hamburg got in the way. And while I could have passed on prostitutes selling themselves at McDonalds, I did enjoy two more nights at the reeperbahn.

Solving crimes after hours. Those guys had the work attitude of a superhero!

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