QA Design Analyst
In case it has not been made perfectly clear at this point, let it be reiterated once more: Game testing is more than just playing games. Quality assurance can refer to the process of identifying and fixing bugs but also to refining the player experience to produce a game that is as enjoyable as it is functional. The QA design analyst is a key figure in this process and is a subject matter expert on turning qualitative information into quantitative data.
The QA design analyst is a specialist responsible for testing and measuring player experience using the scientific method. This person will construct, plan, and execute tests to provide both objective and subjective feedback concerning the fun factor of the game. Typically, these tasks focus on level design and combat systems but can be applied to any interactive feature of a product that engages with the player. To build a test plan, the QA design analyst will analyze the project to determine the proper test methods. Taking into account the variables of each project, he or she will perform necessary research and review of all internal project documentation and communicate with senior development staff.
Executing a test plan requires the analyst to document test scripts in corresponding test management software, then execute those scripts and record collected data in the studio’s internal tracking database. This essentially amounts to automating a function within the game to repeat numerous times, while recording the outcome each time. Even with automation, manual testing is often still necessary. During game design review, the QA analyst is able to provide the reported data to senior developers during the production process, which can offer useful feedback for designers and programmers. This is the time where concerns are brought forth before the game has advanced too far beyond the opportunity to make changes. The analyst will take a proactive approach to sharing data collected in testing and be available to provide assistance to internal departments regarding the interpretation and implementation of data.
Skills & Education
A college degree in game design, computer science, or advanced mathematics is recommended for a career as a QA design analyst, and coursework should include classes in statistical analysis. Specific proficiencies include defect tracking and use of test management tools, and a strong understanding of the Agile development process. Scrum master certification is preferred, and analysts should be familiar with standard level editing software and database systems. Experience in the use of scripting languages such as C/C++, Java, Lua, and Python are useful. This role requires an individual with excellent time management and problem solving skills that can effectively communicate complex concepts.
What to Expect
This person will report to the QA manager and director of quality assurance, and communicate across multiple departments within the studio. Candidates for a position as a QA design analyst should have professional experience as a level designer, game designer, or closely related role. Furthermore, employers prefer applicants with at least three years of previous employment within a quality assurance department. This is not a position that can be attained through time in service and automatic promotion. The role of the design analyst is one reserved for exceptionally knowledgeable individuals who display a firm grasp of game development processes and also possess the necessary analytical skills to keenly dissect a game to identify successful and detrimental attributes. Those who will succeed in this role enjoy finding patterns, are great at puzzles, and find happiness in programming macros or writing Excel formulas. Employment opportunities exist for full-time and freelance employees within game development studios, including those who produce console, PC, and online products.
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