Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Don’t Eat The Ice Cream

Being a QA Tester at a big publisher can mean a BIG RAMP UP and an EVEN BIGGER RAMP DOWN. It’s just how the industry is. It’s not uncommon for a publisher to ramp up over 100 testers in a 3 month time frame, knowing that they’ll have to dismiss 90% of them by Thanksgiving.

Something to note is that QA Testers are Temporary Employees, so you don’t get to participate in the company morale events that the Full-Timers do. So when you ARE invited, relish the opportunity because it is rare. We managed to ship 5 titles in the month of November (a truly an epic feat if I do say so myself). We had been promised, with patches and on-going support services, we would be kept on until after the New Year. Coinciding with this joyful news, we were being invited to participate in the November morale event, catered Ice Cream from Ben & Jerry’s!

This publisher is a BIG place. Each floor contains hundreds of staff, so the PA system called down 1 floor at a time, starting with the Executives on the top floor. Floor by floor, they called each department down, and finally they got all the way down to the basement and called QA to the indoor park. We came up and quickly filed into organize lines.

So there we are, basking in the warm southern California afternoon sun, eating delicious sundaes, enjoying camaraderie and companionship about a job well done and enjoying the recognition of our 80 hour weeks for the last 3 months. The HR and QA Manager come in and stand up on the dais near the back to the park; “Excuse me, everyone, may I have your attention.”

“Thank you for the hard work these past couple months. This holiday season we’ve got 5 titles coming out, and we could not have done it without you. Please give your badges to security, they will go bring your things from your desk. If you drove here today, please see

and she will give you parking validation so you can exit the lot. Thank you again for your hard work.”

We stood there for a moment, trying to comprehend what had just happened.

The dark realization began to sink in, and you could hear people in the crowd softly sniffling, and rubbing eyes as they were trying to hold back tears. Some were angry; they had made plans, promises, and commitments. Some were bravado. They were sure THEIR hard work had spared them (which of course, it did not). One by one, security brought up peoples possessions in little cardboard boxes. We said our goodbyes every time security would come back up. We all shook hands and promised to stay in touch (mostly for finding leads on the next job). Eventually my box came and I said my goodbyes as well. It was over. I went to my car, drove home, and told my loving wife the news.

In an afternoon in the golden sun of Southern California, 100 QA Testers were mass fired while they dined on Ice Cream.