Mouse Smash

JC Lau's blog about geekery, gender and other rants

Adventures in QA: Chapter Two: Training Day (or how game testers are presumed to be male)

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In retrospect, not the greatest hashtag, but it was short.

In retrospect, not the greatest hashtag, but it was short.

Since the interview, there’s been a little bit of pedantic paperwork with background checks and whatnot. Then, yesterday, I received an email telling me that mandatory training for the client was today, and that I had to reply to the email and then they would send me the (apparently super-secret) location, even though they could tell me the date and time of training. With less than 24 hours’ notice, they weren’t kidding about this being an on-call job.

I showed up to the client company (let’s call it Company Y) and was signed in, and given a fancy form of ID:

I'm not just a grunt, I'm a visiting grunt.

I’m not just a grunt, I’m a visiting grunt.

There were about a dozen other people with the same tag milling about in the foyer of the building. I was told at the interview that about 40 people applied, so I guess I made the cut by replying to my emails promptly. I recognized a few faces from  interview day, but something else was overwhelmingly obvious:

Seriously. I was the only female tester in a room full of dudes. When we were led to the conference room where we’d be trained, even the trainer was (surprise) a guy.* Honestly, I don’t know what I was expecting for a game testing job.

We were asked if anyone of us had had testing experience, and I’ve focus-tested for a few places, so I mentioned that. Only one other person said anything about testing. Yay, me. I’m not sure why I felt like I had to justify being there, but anyway. The trainer was also to be one of the contacts that we had at Company Y, and even though I’m being quite cynical about the whole testing gig, he seemed to be genuinely interested in game testing and our being there. That was honestly a bit reassuring, because I had this idea that everyone who led teams of QA grunts would be jaded and apathetic to the system, but he didn’t seem to be at all.

The core of the induction was the training video that we were subjected to. I say “subjected to” because, well, it was drier than the Sahara in the middle of the afternoon. Even the trainer preemptively apologized for it.

The majority of the content was about the different security processes used at Company Y, and while we were already told that most of it wouldn’t be relevant to us–they make everyone employed watch the same video, irrespective of their position–it was pretty difficult to avoid the seriousness with which security measures were regarded.

Sidenote: As I mentioned before, even though I’ll be writing about life in QA testing, I’m being quite careful to maintain the anonymity of the companies I’m dealing with and the projects I am working on. I’m writing very generally, just to give an idea of what the daily work would be like. That said, common sense does play a relevant part. In the induction session, we were told by the trainer, for example, that we couldn’t go on facebook and say “I had a hard day at work because Company Y is making me do such-and-such a thing”, but it WOULD be permissible to go on facebook and say “I had a hard day at work.” Because, you know, such vaguebooking is SUPER interesting.

At some point through the video, I noticed that the two guys talking about the video had been only talking about men. All the pronouns in the video were “he” and “him”, and there were multiple cases of “don’t be that guy” because a guy was caught doing “guy things” (which was not expanded upon, but implied to be something to do with sports and/or pornography) on the internet.

Even the section on security and safety was pretty male-oriented.

YOU KNOW, BECAUSE ALL EMPLOYEES AT COMPANY Y ARE GIANT BEEFY GUYS WHO CAN DO THIS SORT OF THING, RIGHT. The alternative was to speak calmly and politely to the person in question. What? I’m pretty sure this is a false dichotomy, and doing either of those options will result in my getting my ass kicked.

Even though the video wasn’t super riveting, there was a system for keeping awake. We were actually told at the beginning of the video that if security saw anyone in the room sleeping during the video, EVERYONE would have to watch it again.

Way to help the team, random guy sitting behind me!

After the video, there was the opportunity for questions. Regrettably, I kept my mouth shut.

We were then taken to get our ID photos for our tags. Basically, that involved a security guard with a camera, and us holding laminated sheets with our ID numbers on them, mugshot-style.

I did make a friend at this point, because the guy in the line after me also was wearing glasses and couldn’t see without them, and we both had hat hair for our photos, so I suppose there was solidarity in that. Hooray?

The whole process took about two hours, and then we were told to go home and that we would probably start work “either in a few days or next week”. Oh yeah, and even though the induction was mandatory and everything, it was unpaid. At least it was only two hours and not a full day. Such is the life of the grunt, I suppose.

Postcript: I realized after the fact that the hashtag wasn’t the greatest since #AQA refers to a bunch of other things. Ugh.

*About halfway through the video, the trainer’s boss came in and it was a woman, so that made the gender ratio in the room something like 1:7. Small victories?

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