Game testing includes the same basic QA testing skills as app testing yet can be more time-consuming and includes some harder to define tests for things like sound design and fun factor.
Software testing is always expanding within existing disciplines. Web and mobile app testing are continually changing and adapting to new technology like AI, ML and the metaverse. The same also occurs in other software development disciplines like gaming and other entertainment software.
The nearly explosive development of video games for entertainment has led to various opportunities on an array of platforms. Entertainment games are not only developed for mobile devices but for any number of unique hardware systems and the web. Game audiences like nearly all software consumers demand higher quality graphics, functionality and interactivity with a positive customer experience. The fewer the defects, the better the customer experience.
This guide discusses how a QA career in game or app testing shares the same testing techniques, where game testing is unique, as well as the top game testing techniques.
Game and app testing are both engineering disciplines that require attention to detail, a passion for quality and a knack for spotting defects. Both testing options require professional testing skills for career success. It’s a mistake to assume game testing is simply playing a game with your co-workers all day long. Game testing, like app testing, requires specific skills due to the complexity and range of the code.
Game and app testing share the same basic QA testing skillset including:
All testing requires the ability to dissect a user story or requirements into a working application model. Whether that model is a prototype or an idea in a tester’s head, it serves as the basis for developing accurate and valid test cases. Test case development may be manual, automated or a mix of both in a variety of styles depending on the development team. For example, some Agile teams may focus more on test automation or manual-based exploratory test development.
Both app and game testing require QA testers to understand how to execute tests in a variety of forms as well as find and report defects. The creative ability to find defects is one of the most effective and fundamental skills for a QA tester.
Additionally, performing a variety of test execution types including functional, regression, usability, accessibility and performance testing. Security testing is typically down by specialists but many QA testers can perform basic penetration testing at a minimum. Reviewing and verifying UX/UI design is important to ensure the product meets the target audience’s needs for both testing disciplines. Same with compatibility testing for products that support multiple platforms and devices.
The base skills for software testers are the same for testing apps and games. So, what makes game testing different from testing apps?
Game testing must also verify users have fun and are challenged while playing the game. Games that aren’t fun, engaging and challenging don’t sell for long. Determining if a game is fun enough can be subjective. Fun-factor testing is unique to games as entertainment software. No one is going to buy games that aren’t fun to play.
How to test the fun factor of a game? Determining if a game is fun for the target audience requires insight into game design, experience as a member of the target audience, and understanding what the target audience enjoys in a gaming experience.
Game testing tends to be less regimented or repeatable than app testing. Most game testing occurs as an exploratory type of testing effort. Game testers must play through the game and test a variety of possible scenarios. Test cases may be scripted but typically game testing is done based on exploring the various aspects of the game functionality as a player would. There are times when specific test scripts may be useful, but when looking for defects or security gaps in a game requires a more fluid approach to testing variations rapidly. Exploratory testing fulfills the need for testing in a realistic and timely fashion.
Game testers typically stay assigned to a single project to its completion. Being assigned to multiple projects is rare. Because of the fun factor, game testers are seen as less technical testers, but that is not necessarily the case. Game software is complex in the same ways as many applications both web and mobile. Read on to learn the top testing techniques specific to game testing.
The top six game testing techniques include:
The complexity of game testing is often misunderstood. Game testing is work! It may be fun work, but it still requires deep QA testing skills and a sense of adventure. For example, balance testing requires an extensive understanding of game design, UX and the target audience’s response to difficulties within the game. The attention to detail required is extensive considering the time most games take to get through all possible levels in a variety of player scenarios and options.
Similarly, testing worlds and levels involve combinations of 3D and metaverse operations with multiple players and possible actions. Many game testers use tools like bots to search worlds for issues or spot problems that stop players from progressing. It requires specific game testing skills to create and manage the bots for accurate results.
AI is big in game software. All computer-controlled game elements must be tested to ensure the AI functions as expected in all player interaction scenarios. Game testers must understand how to find and test trigger actions within the AI design. A solid understanding of AI is crucial for effective game testing.
Audio and sound testing is not necessarily unique to game testing, but it is a large part of the user experience in some games. Game music must involve the player and somehow enhance gameplay or the fun factor. Skills and understanding of audio are necessary to properly test game sound interactions to ensure it adds to the user experience. Consider the number of sounds within even a simple game, and audio testing an entire game requires many hours of detailed testing.
Testing open or public APIs in gaming is critical to ensure the game is not “gamed” using the API. Like security testing, game testers must understand how to test the API for security flaws, gaps or instances where players can manipulate the game engine to their advantage. Add testing functional security around in-game purchases and managing points or awards and there’s plenty of opportunity to exercise one’s security testing skills.
App and game testing both require the same basic QA testing skills. App testing may be thought of as more technical testing, but game testing is not simple. There’s a lot of integration and functionality built into even the simplest modern games. Both app and game testing share a skill set but each has unique testing techniques.
For game testing, API, sound, AI, mechanics, levels and balance are critical testing techniques for finding defects. Don’t forget the game must also be fun. Testing the fun factor of a game is important for game success on the market. There’s more to game testing than simply playing a game all day.
A QA test professional with 23+ years of QA testing experience within a variety of software development teams, Amy Reichert has extensive experience in QA process development & planning, team leadership/management, and QA project management. She has worked on multiple types of software development methodologies including waterfall, agile, scrum, kanban and customized combinations. Amy enjoys continuing to improve her software testing craft by researching and writing on a variety of related topics. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, cat management and the outdoors.
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