Tales from The Trenches Archive

Submit your own Tale from The Trenches

Shock And Awe

I truly and honestly did not know what I was in for when I went from working QA on regular software to doing testing for the video games industry. I knew I’d be taking a hit to my pay: Regular QA work pays like a regular job, and on top of that it mostly has regular hours.

There is no “crunch” period to speak of.

And then I stumbled into a bugtesting job for a developer I won’t name, and to put it bluntly… Conditions were hell. Twelve to sixteen hours a day, most of those hours consisting of unpaid overtime, for the privilege of working sweatshop conditions while my coworkers and I hammered the unrefined bronze of the original source code into a workable tool, bug report by painstaking bug report.

It’s no lie to say that the only reason I didn’t quit on my first day was that I needed the money very badly. Much like a hostage comes to view his or her captors with a degree of respect and companionship, I began to think of the job as a way to keep me grounded, keep my spending in check, and keep me out of trouble.

How could I not focus on paying down my bills when I was too tired from testing to do anything but sleep and bolt down a quick meal before heading back in?

After my contract expired, I was fortunate enough to find a permanent QA position with a software company with reasonable, 40-hour work weeks. However every time I complete a game, to this day, I stand and silently salute the QA staff of every game I finish.

I’ve been where they were. I know just what it’s like to be in the trenches. And by God, if they have the fortitude to stay there, they’re far hardier individuals than I could ever claim to be.