I think the common perception of QA at a video game company is that we sit here and play games all day long. Well, I'm not going to waste your time and tell you anything otherwise.
Best. Job. Ever.
But I'd be lying if I told you that our jobs begin and end with that one sentence. As the Senior Tester on TERA here at En Masse Entertainment, my primary focus is putting TERA through stringent testing to not only ensure that the game is in English, but also ensure everything in the game makes sense to a Western market. This means checking for things like punctuation and grammar, but also making sure the quests and the lore are entertaining, sensible, and fun. It can be harder than you think.
Ever try to translate a cultural idiom? You might see this phrase roughly translated from Korean: "A mute person who's eaten honey." Say...what? Well, that means that a person knows about something but keeps silent about it and other people suffer because of their silence. Obvious, huh? Lots of pitfalls like that in the localization process—fortunately, we have incredible writers and translators here at EME to shoulder a lot of that load. It also helps that our QA team, though small by industry standards, is made up of a diverse set of people and viewpoints. This makes it a bit easier when dealing with honey eating mute-ants.
I love that working at a small company like En Masse means we get to interact with all the departments and not just live in a corner of the company. In fact, there's not a single department here that works in isolation, which is how I think it should be. QA gets to work with the writers to test their changes and pass bugs to them obviously, but we also work with Customer Service to diagnose any bugs that pop up during play sessions. We work with the Operations and Web teams to make sure all that fun behind-the-scenes magic stuff is working as well. Members of the QA team are often some of the characters you see fighting (and dying occasionally) in our videos as well. Oh, and now and then we get asked to write blog posts for our website.
Overall, we keep pretty busy here on one thing or the other. Diverse challenges—I like it. Currently we're making sure the game is ready for E3, since we hope that a bajillion people come out to our booth and play. So come out and visit us! In the meantime, I've got a BAM in TERA I need to fight...err... test