Apr 10, 2013
This week, at the risk of exposing my true identity, I’m going to tell you a story from my workplace. If you have already heard this story, there is a chance we are currently sitting in the same room. How’s that for a creepy discovery!
Anyway, the story I’m about to tell you revolves around one of the funnier crashes I have experienced in my testing career. It so happened that we were testing a game that was still in alpha, which used Steam for inviting friends to games and so on. It was late one Friday afternoon, and everyone was eager to exchange the mouse in their hand for a cold beer. Suddenly, the game started crashing on start-up for everyone in the QA team, except for one guy. The developers’ clients ran just fine too. The frustration continued to grow, and the thought of just giving up and taking that beer earlier than planned became more and more inviting.
After around an hour of updating, reading crash logs and poking stressed-out producers, the QA team member who could still play finally had to leave in order to catch his train home for the weekend. Mere minutes after he was out of the door, a developer found the error causing the crashing (after much staring at the code).
“Okay, who’s got the retarded name?” he asked. “Someone’s got a retarded name, that’s the problem.” He walked out of the room with a look of great disapproval, as if we had wounded his pride by doing something we shouldn’t have done.
We looked at each other in puzzlement. We had all just used our regular names, we thought, and double-checked with Steam. Suddenly, the room was filled with loud laughter. It turned out that the guy who had just left had been looking forward so much to the weekend that he had changed his Steam name into what roughly translates to “THEPASTASAUCEDAYHASCOME!WOHOOOO”.
The problem being that the game only supported names using 8 bit characters, so the non-English letters made the game crash. Not for him though, but for everyone else who had him on their Steam friend-lists. And so the perpetrator just up and left in the middle of it all (presumably to go and have his pasta sauce), leaving us with the cold hate of tired programmers…
So what’s the moral of this story you ask? Well, I suppose that you just have to remember that when testing software, you can never be too thorough. Everything has to be tested – even using the most silly names you can come up with (or rather, even using letters that don’t belong to your native language). You have to play the game in the most obvious, as well as the most unconventional, ways you can think of. Tea-bag, jump off cliffs, kill your husband, tell someone off in Japanese.
Also, never forget to have fun – at the office as well as outside it. If my colleague hadn’t been so happy about his plans for the weekend, it could have been weeks before we found that issue.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this example of real-world QA antics, and remember to check back for more anecdotes, commentaries and more serious messages in two week’s time! Until then, friends, keep reporting those bugs.
Over and out.
– The Secret Tester