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Tales from the Trenches

Pre-emptive strike

I used to work in the mobile games division of a large, family-friendly media company. It wasn’t the most exciting job, but the pay was decent, the work was a bit more respected than console testing, the people were absolutely great, and after working for a while I got converted to a full time employee! My shift was the second shift, but as I am a bit of a night owl it was a good fit for me, so I liked it.

About six months after that, our manager left the company and he was replaced by a manager who had never worked in the games industry before. The first order of business? Condense the two shifts (day and night) back into one. This involved getting some new, slightly smaller desks to fit people into the space that twice as many had taken up before, but it was doable. In the meantime, we fit people in where we could, and some of our testers were to be temporarily stationed on another floor of the office building that had some room.

The first day of the new schedule, about mid day, the other Leads and I got a frantic IM from our testers on the other floor. We went up to investigate, and found them upset, and one on the verge of tears.

Apparently without telling us, the Leads working for the new Manager had gone upstairs and informed the testers they needed to be quiet, as there had been a noise complaint. Keep in mind, these were some of the most hard-working, professional, quiet people I have ever had the pleasure to work with. The poor woman on the verge of tears was devastated that someone might have been upset by their presence. The leads and testers were, understandably. confused. Nothing else was ever reported and eventually everyone sat in the same area anyway.

We never would have figured out the story behind the complaint if it weren’t for the fact that the department head who was above our QA manager later explained it all. I guess guilt got to him or something, but he confessed to us that the QA manager had told him she’d completely falsified the whole thing. It was a pre-emptive strike of sorts. She had so little respect for our game testers that she just assumed that they WOULD be loud and obnoxious when on their own away from direct supervision.

Needless to say, life got worse from that point on, and there were eventual layoffs. But that manager gave us a lot of stories up to that point!