Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Contract slavery might not be the worst thing.

Long hours are required in game development.  That’s just the way these projects end up.  Producers have to schedule a way to create the best game possible before the entire team gets sick of it and quits, which means lots of stuff gets pushed to the last minute, and QA can’t test something that isn’t created yet.

Because QA comes in at the tail end of a production schedule, they have the final deadlines to hit.  While your bosses might not say it outright, you are discouraged from being anywhere but at work for the (your) duration of the project.  The large majority of Quality Assurance Testers work on a contract basis, around 6 months to a year in length, and often a month or six will go between contracts.  While this can get hard financially, the (f)unemployment period between each contract can be seen as merely unpaid vacation time.

If a tester gets hired on full-time by a company, they will be working on this project and then right on to the next project.  If a tester is made a Lead Tester (a supervisor) they are expected to be around ALL THE TIME during every project.  No turning down overtime, no days off for recouping your sanity because you’ve got a team to lead.  The pay grade doesn’t go up much, though.

I have to ask myself, are those couple thousand extra dollars a year worth giving up my sanity-saving vacation time?  Do I even WANT to leave entry-level contract work?  If game publishers/developers respected their QA, it might be a job I want all year.