May 24, 2008

Errors of the Past

One exercise I've been going through over the last few weeks while I try to get myself back into a QA mindset is I've been going over my actions back when I was QA Manager at Ritual (20/20 hindsight and all that) and trying to figure out what I screwed up. I know I've made plenty of mistakes, but you have to be able to identify errors that you've made if you want to advance.

My biggest issue is how I've dealt with the public. I violated the number one rule of public relations: Never draw attention to yourself unless you are selling something.

For example, while I was not in error as far as bringing out additional data regarding technical support ratios, I was in error with how I dealt with the community after the fact because I wasn't really selling anything. While I could have used that time to promote the products I had worked on, I ended up just talking about piracy more than anything else, and this gave those who were promoting piracy their entry.

I made the same mistake going on about Sony. Not only did I have nothing to "sell," my actions actually damaged my personal marketability. While testers loved it because it brought attention to issues that they faced every single day, it did nothing but damage my ability to continue in the games industry.

When I am testing, I like to think of what I do as science. I observe an error, I create a hypothesis about what could cause that error, I experiment to prove or disprove the hypothesis and repeat that process until I come up with a consistently reproducible case for the error, analyze and report on the error, and then retest later on.

Unfortunately, I suffer from the same failing as many scientists. I see the purity of what I do and because I am so close to it, I can't see how what I am doing can be misconstrued or seen for anything other than what it is. Being "liked" doesn't even enter into the picture.

Look at the "debate" between scientists and creationists. The scientists have the evidence, they have theories that have been able to reliably predict results (the true mark of a good theory), they have how evolution not only applies to the diversity of life but also to other fields of study, but for the most part, they do not have public speaking skills. They come across as elitists preaching from their ivory towers. Even though they speak the truth, they don't come across as "likable," and so they lose the debate. The quality of the evidence and the quality of the argument mean less to the majority of American public than the quality of the presenter. Fortunately, the terms of the debate are changing...

But alas, I'm off on a tangent. (Another failing.) My point is that it was a really good thing for me to essentially vanish for the last year. It's given me time to rebuild my image both in and out of the games industry, get ready to return to college later this year, and all-in-all work on improving myself and the world of those around me.

Now that said, my posts here for the foreseeable future are going to fall into one of four categories.

One, useful pieces of information or code that could help someone who encounters a problem similar or identical to what I have recently encountered. According to my web stats, these are the most popular entries and pay for ~75% of my ad traffic.

Two, funny videos or pictures that my readers might enjoy. There won't be many of these. Usually, I share these over at ShackNews.

Three, updates on life or family. (My granddaughter who was hit by a truck is home now and recovering nicely. Thank you for the well-wishing.)

Finally, and this is going to seem a bit vague but it is with good reason, I'm going to try to focus less on the what and the how of things but focus a bit more on the why. While it is admirable to see what is happening and even more so to understand how it happens, knowing the why is what gives you power.


ThomW said...

Why on earth are you going back to college? It seems like a huge waste of time and money at this point in your career.

AskedRelic said...

I second thom and am curious.

rock on rom!