Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Mobile Hell

The worst two months of my life in the game industry were spent at a mobile development studio in their QA lab. This was prior to smart phones, so we tested on hundreds of ancient handsets, some with screens that were literally 1 inch by 1 inch. The testers, of which I was one, worked from 9 AM to 5 PM in a giant open room filled with folding tables. We spent every minute of every day hunched over awful, miniscule cell screens testing horribly ugly games with frustrating keypad controls.

The games and applications we tested were based on money-making restaurant franchises. One of our most important clients was a certain chain known for their large breasted waitresses and chicken wings. The games were mind-numbing and horrific; imagine hours of controlling a pixelated, big-breasted, scantily clad avatar in an inner tube down a waterslide. The lab walls were plastered with garish swag from our clients. And of course, we were QA contractors (the scum of the earth) so we had no benefits and no say in the actual quality of the games.

Luckily, the pay was decent unless you were a female (unlucky me), in which you inexplicably paid $3 less an hour. This would have been a great thing to bring up to HR, except the company felt there was no reason to have an HR department.

The worst part, though? We were constantly testing games that were ready to be shipped, approving them as good to go (after days of testing, regressions, and arguing with developers), and then watching them get shelved in the company’s perpetual outbox. The outbox was filled with titles that were ready to be shipped, but because sales made so little of the company’s money, the incentive to actually release and sell a product was nonexistent.

Years after I quit, the games we had approved to ship were still sitting there, waiting for a release that would never come.

Talk about a pointless job.