This comic by the Penny-Arcade / PvP Mega Comic Conglomerate really hit a spot for me: The Trenches – Neologism The basic schtick is that the test-lead forced a new member of the test team to do the mind-numbing task of checking all the doors in “Portallis, City of a Million Doors”. After spending all-night performing this Sisyphean task, the tester was naturally enraged to find out that the city had been cut. In his anger, he yells at his lead suggesting all the ways in which they could have automated the task and not have wasted manpower. It’s at this point that the tester realizes that the test-lead had purposely assigned him this monotonous task in order for him to have that realization. Thus, the young tester’s “Miyagi”-ing had begun.
I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment behind this strip. All too often, I see game developers (not just testers) zoning out while performing monotonous tasks that could easily be automated. These could be little tasks like synching and compiling new code daily to larger tasks like walking through all menu options looking for memory leaks. I only wish that real-life went as easily as it does in the comic. I’m still discouraged by how often I see people willing to put up with manual “Portallis” checking over and over again. Considering that game companies generally hire people for their ability to think, any zoning out caused by “Portallis” checking is a waste of money. Hopefully, this comic will encourage some people automate their tests and reduce the hours our industry wastes in “Portallis, City of a Million Doors”.