Tales from The Trenches Archive

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While the Publisher may be evil, the QA Department is AWESOME!

Note: This is not technically a “war story”, but still very much worth telling.

Between the Summer of 2006 and the Fall of 2007, I worked for the “sports game” division of a MAJOR Video Game publishing company, that as a whole, is consider to be one of (is not THE) most evil, corrupt, and responsible for ruining any game and/or franchise they touch.

But, here’s the twist: I absolutely fucking LOVED the job.

This story is not about how much they suck… it’s about how much the the people who work there are kickass fucking awesome!

This is a story of my tie with them, or at least… the highlights. :)

First, the hiring process IS INTENSE. They give you a phone interview first, which is easy to pass, as long as you’re not a psycho or a douche (though apparently people manage to fuck this part up).

Then they get the top ~20ish people into a room, and tell you what to expect during your time there, which surprisingly enough includes a guy who -actually says- something to the equivalent of: “While we do not condone Prejudicial/bigoted speech, it may still happen, so if you don’t have tough skin for that sort of thing, this job may not be the place for you.”

Now, that statement wasn’t meant to discourage any person of any race/creed/gender/orientation/etc. from sticking around, he was just stating a simple fact that on the testing for, sometime people can be crude. The general idea was that since they couldn’t patrol everyone every minute of everyday, you had to take personal responsibility to “know your audience”. Again, a very smart, common sense, approach.

When I first got hired, I was sent to a building -across the street- where I (and another girl that was hired on the same day) were told to play a game that the company had already RELEASED… why? Because they we’re making the 3rd game, and wanted to make sure me and this other girl (who was in the same hiring class I was in), I spent 2 days working on this before one of the Senior Leads from the QA department came over and told both of us to follow him.

When went down the stairs, back across the street, entered the -main- QA Building, and were given our assignments, she was given the “Major movie license game that had been scrapped after a YEAR of working on it and restarted from scratch with 6 more months to go before the DVD release which was to coincide with the release of the game.”

However, I was lucky! My first project was a “European version of Baseball” game, and I kinda liked it I got to work of the PC version of the game, and got to tweak Windows settings in order to screw the game over in weird and complicated ways. I even got a free copy of the game! (Note: we got free copies of any game that our names appeared in the credits, and in order to get into the credits you had to work on the game -officially- for at least 2 weeks).

Over the course of the next year I work on some MAJOR titles, some lesser titles, got moved to a specialty team that was considered THE hardest team to get into and learn from, became “first officer” of a team (3rd in line under the Senior lead and the Team Lead), and genuinely enjoyed my time there. In fact if it wasn’t for other opportunities that came to be, I would still be working there to this day.

But, here’s the best part: (and the point of my whole story).

The QA PARTIES.

You see several times a year the QA Department would use their left over budget and throw parties for it’s team members.

KEG PARTIES.

That’s right, we’d come into work one day, clock in, GET PAID, and proceed to eat, and GET DRUNK!!!

I kid you not.

Our -bosses- would be grillin’ various meats outside, there would be KEGS (plural) for you to drink from, a cotton candy machines (which made a HUGE mess that had to be scraped off the wall), video game competitions, the whole bit… it was epic!

My best memory of this time is in fact, having myself, a buddy of mine, the 1st officer from project I was working on at the time, and an actual developer for the same game we were working on, all sitting around in a conference room, finishing off the last “foamy bits” of beer out of the bottom of a keg” (i.e.: floating the keg). And here’s the most important thing, everybody felt like a TEAM, the idea of “devs vs QA”, and “the company thinks of us as robots instead of human beings” ... all of that? It went right out the window… They made sure we had fun, and more importantly, that made sure we were SAFE: They paid for ANY and ALL cab rides people may of needed in order they made it home safely, and a lot of times, it was the leads and developers themselves driving people home.

Moral of the story: Sometimes, even the “Worst Company of the Year”, really does care about it’s employees, and isn’t as bad as people actually believe it to be. :)