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Why game testing is important

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Game Testing

During the first part of my discussion I covered part of the history and current market value of game and mobile game testing, as well as the simple differences it holds compared to application and web testing. In this second part I would like to outline in more detail how game testing is executed.

Game testing is important for many reasons. Games are inherently complex, mixing many entertainment genres into a seamless and enjoyable interactive experience. The main selling point of video games is that the medium itself is highly interactive. Mixing this with a large user base, and in most cases many different install bases (the same game can be released on multiple platforms such as PC, PlayStation [1], and XBOX [2]) can lead to a lot of unexpected and unforeseen problems. Such problems can be easily be overlooked without proper testing. Delivering an end product with bugs will lead to criticism from the end users, since it ruins their experience which in turn can lead to a significant reduction in unit sales.

How to test games

As mentioned earlier, game testing borrows a lot of concepts from conventional software testing, but with a few customisations. Compared to conventional software there is a bigger focus on the intangible ‘fun’ aspect. There are also different player demographics and educational aspects to take into account.

The following type of testing are relevant to games testing:

Installation testing

  • Verify that game will install, load and run on different platform configurations that mainstream users support.
  • These are normally described in test cases.

Feature testing

  • Verification of the games’ features. These should also be covered in test cases
  • Detailed test cases – These test cases are suitable to cover obvious features
  • Task-based test cases – These test cases are at a higher level of detail
  • Test matrixes – These test cases are useful when there are different features for different player statuses

User Interface (UI) testing

  • The main focus of UI testing is both the graphical elements and content types.
  • Make list of desired checks and then work through this list
  • Cover any localization your game might have

Performance testing

  • Identify the common tasks a player is likely to perform
  • Determine the acceptable times for these tasks, these times are the goals. You should then perform each
  • ‘Extreme testing’ – Running the game for a continuous 24 hours. Increasingly add more players for multiplayer performance testing

The Future is Now!

Technology never stops evolving, and the games industry is most often on the frontlines. Games tend to push the technology innovation envelope. They tend to drive the hardware market, while conventional software conforms to it. Looking at current market trends, it seems that VR might be the next big thing when it comes to the way we consume games. With all market segments already covered, from card box viewers like the Google cardboard project [3], and Samsung with its Gear VR [4] (these both use a phone as screen, up to Oculus Rift [5], Vive [6] and Morpheus [7] that have specific optics to set interpupillary distance, etc.

Testing this kind of hardware / software will need new ways of testing, which will lead to new methodologies being pioneered by those companies staking their business in this new area. Interesting questions arise when we consider, do we need to immerse ourselves within the game or application before we can test? How does the positioning of the head affects the experience and human body?

An exciting future awaits us, where development and testing go hand-in-hand to set a new level of experience. And after all, what’s not better than playing games for work!

References:
[1] Playstation
[2] Xbox
[3] Google Cardboard
[4] Samsung Gear VR
[5] Oculus Rift
[6] Vive
[7] Morpheus
[8] Microsoft Hololens


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