What is your role at BioWare?
I am a Principal Quality Developer in Quality Assurance.
My responsibilities include creating test strategies for how the QA team can apply testing coverage against all phases of development, as well as determining testing methodologies, creating or improving upon current procedures, help shaping workflows, providing training/mentoring to fellow analysts and developing reporting standards.
How did you get your start at EA?
A friend who worked at BioWare invited me over one night. He handed me a controller and told me to play a level while I waited for him to finish work. As I was playing, one of his co-workers pointed at my screen and asked, “How did you get there?” I told him that it was very difficult, but if you use your jetpack in short bursts it will fill up faster than you can deplete it, allowing you to reach some of the harder platforms.
That year was 1999, the game I was playing was MDK2, and the person I didn’t know was Casey Hudson (Project Director at BioWare whose credits include Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the Mass Effect trilogy) They say timing is everything. I received a phone call the following Monday and was offered a job!
I actually was not aware that Quality Assurance was an actual profession. When I was young. I wanted to be an Actor!
What are your goals at EA?
Right now, my goal is to redefine how testing coverage is perceived. I believe that test coverage does not come solely from the QA team, but is achieved through all disciplines. Every time an individual has a controller in their hands, they are providing testing coverage, whether it be by checking something they’ve submitted, playing through a level or accidentally leaving the game on overnight. If we can harness that coverage data, it can be used to shape QA’s direction to provide more in-depth focused testing in the areas needed most.
What drives your passion within the gaming industry?
The Team. Everyone is unique and has their own ways of doing things. I love learning what drives people, and watching an individual improve is the best reward. I am a firm believer that there is never a perfect solution.
How would you describe the culture at BioWare Montreal?
I believe I would not be in this position today If it wasn’t for BioWare Montreal’s open and friendly culture. We are free to ask questions, provide feedback and contribute. It’s a place where people respect one another and are encouraged to engage in a friendly discussion and not become upset when someone provides constructive criticism.
How do you keep your skills sharpened?
I am a huge admirer of philosophy, out of the box thinking and efficiency. I continuously study different testing methodologies and determine if they apply to our current situation. If I can’t find the correct puzzle piece, I attempt to create one. I’m a problem solver, and make decisions on a daily basis to help keep the QA team on course, while not severely disrupting the team.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Knowledge. I’m lucky to be able to learn all aspects of game development from people who are experienced and passionate in their fields. Whether it be through asking questions, watching someone work or even reverse engineering what someone has done, I am constantly absorbing information and using it to help me grow.
What advice can you give to someone who aspires to a career in the gaming industry?
Take the time to learn what kind of work you enjoy doing and understand what you want out of a career or job. Understanding yourself is the best place to start.
Ask yourself a few questions: are you a visual learner? Do you take direction well? Are you more logically driven or does your imagination take over? Do you like figuring out how things work or are you more interested in the people behind the scenes and in how they are organized?
There are several facets within the QA environment that one can choose to develop during his or her career. A Quality Analyst is someone who dives deep into a particular feature or area of a game and breaks it down to its core. A Software Developer In Test role would be good if you are more interested in creating tools that improve testing efficiencies. A Manager role would work if your goal is to improve and maintain the right working conditions the team you manage and your peers across development.
Once you have decided what work you might enjoy, seek out opportunities to learn more about the roles that interest you. Play games and practice breaking them down into testable components.
Never stop asking why and above all else, remember to have fun!
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