26 Jul 2012

Is Crowd Sourcing the Future of Testing? Game Developers Certainly Think So

Category:
  • Testing

Traditionally the testing of an application is the responsibility of a select few employees of the company developing the application. However as application development evolves so do the processes available to use by testers; one that is gaining in popularity at the moment is ‘Crowd Sourced Testing’.

Traditional development methodologies (such as waterfall) are going to be the easiest to outsource because testing is a stage that follows directly on from development. This means as far as the developers are concerned the test team will be receiving the finished product allowing them to test the completed app as a whole. This would work as very little communication would be required between the devs and testers; testers would do their thing and then feedback to the devs on it. Using an Agile approach might experience problems seeing as your testers will be testing the app as it’s being developed; such a process requires tight integration between the teams so they know when new versions have been uploaded or changes have been made.

diablo iiiDepending on the market you operating in you can probably use this to your advantage. Many games manufacturers have bought into the trend of releasing beta versions of their games a couple of months before release. This acts as both a gesture of good will towards their fan base (almost like a demo) and an opportunity for them to receive some feedback on any problems the gamers might experience. Given the sheer number of possible actions and combinations in many video games like Blizzard’s Diablo 3 and Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls it is inevitable that bugs will be missed; but giving thousands of players the opportunity to play before release might well catch some of these. However a simple fix to a problem does not always imply it can be retested easily.

For massive scale projects like games this is an understandable approach, but for smaller in-house commercial projects your standard test team is still likely to reap better results. A group of organised testers will still be required to systematically go through the application and find the bugs that only come up in obscure situations (something that a crowd sourced group is less likely to manage due to lower levels of organisation and coordination).

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