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QA Best Practices: Games for Adult Learning

This month on the blog, we’re discussing several topics surrounding educational games for adult learning. For today’s blog, we interviewed Brian Czech, the Quality Assurance Manager here at Filament. We asked him how age range impacts the quality assurance process, what clients can expect during the QA process, and more! Read on for a peek into QA at Filament, and the specifics we take into account while testing games for adult learning.

What kinds of considerations do we make when QAing a game for an adult audience versus QAing a game for a young audience?

The target age range for a game impacts many design decisions, and as a result factors into the way that the Filament QA team approaches testing

Particularly, the audience impacts how we approach usability testing. Does the game use language that’s appropriate for the player’s reading level? Does written content have voiceover to aid in understanding? Does the length of the game fit with the player’s attention span? How complex is the subject matter? What’s the overall tone of the game? Are the game mechanics appropriate for the player’s experience level and their overall tech competency?

The audience also factors into compatibility and performance testing. A younger player is often more likely to play the game in a school setting with older technology and a slow internet connection. When at home they may be playing on a device handed down to them. Accordingly, we need to make sure that the game functions well on the platforms and devices that the target audience will use. We also need to be cognizant of performance. An older player may have the patience to wait for a 15-second loading screen where a young child may already be onto something else.

To what extent are those considerations driven by the client?

Some clients have a clear vision of their target audience and as a result have very specific requirements in mind regarding game mechanics, content, supported platforms, performance benchmarks, etc. Other clients rely more on Filament’s expertise. Although the target player informs our testing on any project, the client can help us determine the relative importance of each player-specific testing consideration.

How does the targeted technology platform impact our QA approach? (i.e., what’s the difference in QAing for an iPad versus a Chromebook?)

The QA team has a large collection of physical and virtual devices that we use for compatibility testing. We require a wide variety of devices because there are a lot of differences in the way games function on different platforms, OS versions, and devices that need to be tested. Here are some typical considerations:

Screen resolutions and aspect ratios vary by device and can often cause game UI to be tiny, cut off or distorted. Similar issues can occur when the player resizes the game window or rotates their device.

The hardware specs of a device often make a big difference in how well a game runs (or if it runs at all).

Games need to be tested across multiple operating system versions on each platform, as there are often defects that occur only on specific OS versions.

Can the game be played with a slow or no internet connection? The answer may be different depending on if the game is being played on a desktop (where the internet is typically always connected) vs a tablet (which can be taken anywhere).

Does the game support saving? Saving often works very differently on mobile vs. desktop.

Gestures and inputs differ between platforms. Tap and drag and multitouch are easy interactions on a tablet, but what about a Chromebook with a trackpad? Typing is straightforward on a desktop, but what does that mean on a tablet or phone when an onscreen keyboard needs to appear over the game?

Accessibility features and analytics often function very differently across browsers and platforms.

The list above isn’t exhaustive, but gives some insight into the types of things QA considers when compatibility testing.

What sorts of methodologies have we developed over the years to optimize QA?

First and foremost (and I can’t emphasize this enough), the experience and continuity of the QA team members are crucial to department optimization. I’ve found that the team tests more efficiently when its members have a wealth of knowledge and experience gained from testing previous Filament projects. As added benefits, experienced testers feel more valued by their development teams and in turn, are more likely to be invested in their work.

Another way we’ve optimized the QA team is the use of a consistent and well-documented process across all projects. The QA team at Filament is a shared resource working on as many as 10-15 projects at a time. Having a testing process that’s the same on each project helps us to quickly context-switch.

Regular communication with the development teams is another way we facilitate efficient testing, made possible by Filament’s culture of open communication. Each project has a QA Lead who regularly attends project team meetings and serves as the point person for communication between the development team and the QA team. This keeps the QA team in the loop regarding the project’s goals, timelines, and features. Additionally, whenever any QA team member has a question about a feature they’re testing they can quickly and easily ask any member of the development team in the moment to get an answer.

What should clients expect from the QA process?

Filament QA follows a rigorous testing process based on industry standards that has been refined over the course of many years and has been used on more than 100 projects to date. Our team conducts regular and comprehensive testing throughout the entire development phase of the project. We also produce many detailed test artifacts such as test suites and test runs, defects, story verification comments, and test summary reports that document our testing progress and results.

QA is typically more behind the scenes than other development team roles, but we are involved throughout the entire project in some capacity. We are most active at the end of each development phase.

There you have it – everything you wanted to know about Filament QA (specifically for games
geared towards adult learners). Check out our titles for adult learners, such as the Demonstrating Respect Game, Saving Lives!, MSI Retail Sim, and Wavequest. If you’re feeling inspired to create a game for your particular audience, let us knowwe have the expertise to design impactful educational experiences for any age!

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