November 14, 2006

Right/Wrong vs. Right/Left

A lot of people go into games QA with one of two mentalities. Either they come in thinking, "cool, I get to play games for a living," in which case they generally leave the industry after five months never to return. Or they come in thinking, "there is so much wrong with games, this is my chance to make things right."

There is a lot of potential if you come into the games industry believing that you can fight the good fight and win the war against poor quality crapware, but I've found that people who keep that attitude burn out fairly quickly. It isn't that it's a wrong attitude, but the way that the games industry works, "right vs. wrong" just isn't...right.

I bring this up because I like making fun of commercials. Recently, they've been showing a commercial for DVD boxsets for the old Superman TV series and the last season of Lois and Clark. In the commercial, Dean Cain as Superman states in a matter-of-fact fashion, "I stand for what is right!" I always reply saying, "I stand for what is left!" For the most part, my reply is a joke, but I started thinking about it, and it does actually apply to how people tend to survive in QA.

Everyone on a team can pretty much agree about the "right" bugs to fix. Everyone on the team can also agree on the "wrong" bugs to fix: the ones that will result in additional instability, the ones that nobody will ever see, the ones that only occur if you noclip out of the world, the stupid shitty bugs that never work. However, between the "right" and the "wrong" bugs are the bugs in the grey area...the bugs that are left.

As testers, we stand for the bugs that are left. We fight for the bugs that aren't slam-dunk "must fix," but will have a serious impact on our customers. We wade into the grey, and escort our issues into the light.

Shifting from a "right/wrong" mentality to a "right/left" mentality isn't easy, but it makes survival in this industry so much easier.


Sam Kalman said...

Amen, brother. What really irks me is the amount of resistance that can come your way even as you're fighting to make the product better than it would have been otherwise. Starting out motivated is easy, but keeping motivation is the hard part.

dj said...

so does that make you the Lex Luthor of QA? :p