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The Human Cost Of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Whitecrow

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Doesnt matter the position on the company. They work for you, and they are persons like everybody else. Dont treat them like fucking slaves.
 
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This whole thread is weird. Most people here seem to have no idea how game development works at all. Or how businesses are run. There's literally no need to treat QA testers are some scum of the earth compared to the other devs on the team.

Oh come on man. Its not about treating people like "scum" its about accepting the fact that in a business hierarchy seniority tends to be rewarded with additional benefits.

Not getting priority parking and full access to every jolly does not make you a slave.

From the perspective of someone who worked in the business for years I can say the way development staff treat QA is mainly predicated on the fact that segregation is an important consideration in keeping the test process "blind" and firewalled off from contamination bred from personal animus or favoritism.

I'm sure most testers want to feel personally involved and valued, but the harsh reality is that the job is about functionality and performance validation. From the dev's end they just flag more work to be done, making QA is less of a friend and contributor than a sort of necessary evil. When you are looking at a database containing thousands of bugs you really don't want to personalize any part of it, because its all stick and no carrot!

Honestly though, I was reacting more to yet another piece of muck-raking yellow journalism from Schrier trading under a smokescreen of bogus altruism.
 
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mckmas8808

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Oh come on man. Its not about treating people like "scum" its about accepting the fact that in a business hierarchy seniority tends to be rewarded with additional benefits.

Not getting priority parking and full access to every jolly does not make you a slave.

From the perspective of someone who worked in the business for years I can say the way development staff treat QA is mainly predicated on the fact that segregation is an important consideration in keeping the test process "blind" and firewalled off from contamination bred from personal animus or favoritism.

I'm sure most testers want to feel personally involved and valued, but the harsh reality is that the job is about functionality and performance validation. From the dev's end they just flag more work to be done, making QA is less of a friend and contributor than a sort of necessary evil. When you are looking at a database containing thousands of bugs you really don't want to personalize any part of it, because its all stick and no carrot!

Honestly though, I was reacting more to yet another piece of muck-raking yellow journalism from Schrier trading under a smokescreen of bogus altruism.

Why do you view being able to park in the "Normal" parking lot a perk? Why do you view being able to talk to any full-time employee in the hallways or at the water cooler a perk? Is it really a peak to be able to eat at the company picnic? How segregated are we to believe the average QA tester is at most video game companies? I'm willing to bet Activision (or at least this specific dev house) is at the bottom of quality care for their QA testers.
 
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Gods&Monsters

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Why do you view being able to park in the "Normal" parking lot a perk? Why do you view being able to talk to any full-time employee in the hallways or at the water cooler a perk? Is it really a peak to be able to eat at the company picnic? How segregated are we to believe the average QA tester is at most video game companies? I'm willing to bet Activision (or at least this specific dev house) is at the bottom of quality care for their QA testers.

Except they are not Activision employees, they are Volt employees. Also Activision doesn't own the building so they have to rent that parking space. They are not going to give it to Volt employees. That would be nonsense. They probably don't control the AC in that building too, it's programmed by the building management company.
 

mckmas8808

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Except they are not Activision employees, they are Volt employees. Also Activision doesn't own the building so they have to rent that parking space. They are not going to give it to Volt employees. That would be nonsense. They probably don't control the AC in that building too, it's programmed by the building management company.

Yet those QA testers are working directly with the Activision employees on making the game. They are an important part of the "making the game process". At my job even the auditors that audit us get to eat any free lunch our employees have. And they aren't in any way affiliated with my company.

If I were Activision, I'd want those people to feel like they are being treated well and not like 2nd class citizens.
 

Tesseract

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you know what else it's about, not treating people like shit

you ain't special because you are a programmer or level designer, whatever, the biggest sanctimonious shit birds i've worked with were in the top of the stack
 
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Why do you view being able to park in the "Normal" parking lot a perk? Why do you view being able to talk to any full-time employee in the hallways or at the water cooler a perk? Is it really a peak to be able to eat at the company picnic? How segregated are we to believe the average QA tester is at most video game companies? I'm willing to bet Activision (or at least this specific dev house) is at the bottom of quality care for their QA testers.

In my experience a lot of QA is separated by oceans, loutsourced to places like India or independent contractors as the poster above me describes.

The reality is that communication by necessity goes via database, its all electronic and to a large extent external to the main development effort. Like I said, the premise is always that separation is a positive thing for productivity.

You need to understand that QA isn't development, its a separate service utilized by development and often a business of its own.
 

#Phonepunk#

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Doesnt matter the position on the company. They work for you, and they are persons like everybody else. Dont treat them like fucking slaves.

that's the thing. they aren't treated like "fucking slaves". full time employees get first dibs on complementary food. not slavery. having to enter in comments using the industry wide ticket system that the company uses is not slavery. it's called following the fucking rules. they use these ticketing systems so that the many parties, the devs, QA, the client, product owners, product QA, all can see a record of what was discussed. leaving these things offline is a surefire way to disorganization.

if sitting at a desk for 8 hours with breaks and getting free pizza (but it's cold!) is slavery to you then maybe you should leave and let someone with a decent work ethic fill the position instead.

“When I started, I was told explicitly not to interact with members of QA, but instead to go directly to the QA leads for any questions that I may have,” said one Treyarch developer. “You could look at that as a way to funnel key information to the appropriate leads for members of the QA department so there aren’t any redundancies, or different people coming to different members of the team with the same request. But the explicit phrasing was that you were not supposed to interact with or talk to them. Which was very strange to me.”

it's kind of strange but isn't this a massive gaming company with tons of employees? you want your full time devs to constantly get asked questions? testers can bring it to the QA Lead who can then bring relevant questions to the devs directly. there is an actual process in place if you have something you need to say.

yes it sucks to be swallowed up and not noticed by a giant company. maybe don't work for the people who make Call of Duty games. you know there are smaller studios you can work for if you can't handle a simple hierarchy.
 
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LegendOfKage

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1. I've seen people say this earlier in the thread and it's confusing to me. How small do you think these teams are? What's the likely hood that a QA tester is going to run into the exact person that works on collision detection, because he noticed it had some issues in the latest build? Like a QA tester can't just walk up to random person 145 on the team and expect that person to fix "issue A". That dev could be an artist that's working on all the villains. Or they could be the lead animator and have nothing to do with the broken AI in the game. So this reasoning makes zero sense to me.

I would imagine the conversation might go something like this:

Hey, I'm new here in QA. Are you a developer? What are you working on right now?

Oh yeah, I've been testing that. I don't really like what you did. Let me tell you how you should change it.

2. Why do you feel it neccessary to treat QA testers like some sort of burger flippers at your local McDonalds? Some people get into game design through being a QA tester for a year or two. There's no reason to think they also didn't go to college. Why do you view QA testers are less valuable employees?

Even if they did go to college, I view QA as less valuable because a college degree would not be required for their job, and thus they would be easier to replace. My assumption suggests that Activsion is a business with resources, and they can either find the best way to allocate those resources, or spend more money. What is your assumption? That they're intentionally mean to QA because they enjoy treating people badly? Do you really believe that there isn't a logical, business reason for every decision they make?

This whole thread is weird. Most people here seem to have no idea how game development works at all. Or how businesses are run. There's literally no need to treat QA testers are some scum of the earth compared to the other devs on the team.

I think we can agree that it would be BETTER for overall morale if parties happened when everyone was able to attend, and if enough money was spent so everyone could enjoy themselves. But I don't agree that not spending that money on contract employees is some horrible injustice. It's just a business you don't work for spending money on the people who do work for them.
 

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Ironically, QA is one of the few things where outsourcing overseas is actually the smart choice because you ideally want your test cycle to be running out of phase with the dev teams working hours. In simple terms, the team submits a build at the end of their working day, goes home, and when they return to the office in the morning want a freshly repopulated database ready from them to triage.

This also is why QA tends to be asked to work unsociable hours. Devs aren't at their desks 24/7 and without them producing and submitting builds QA has nothing to do. Running concurrently is enormously wasteful because often bugs and other unwanted behaviors get fixed ad-hoc between builds, so if your QA is always a day behind there's going to be a lot of redundant entries in the database.
 
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mckmas8808

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I would imagine the conversation might go something like this:

Hey, I'm new here in QA. Are you a developer? What are you working on right now?

Oh yeah, I've been testing that. I don't really like what you did. Let me tell you how you should change it.

In this situation, it just sounds like a manager will need to talk to the QA tester and remind him or her to not ask questions like "what are you working on". And to also not give direct feedback in such an informal way. And if they keep doing it they should be fired. But if this same QA tester asked this same developer......"How's your day going today", "You see the game last night", or "Did you get the new iPhone 11 last night" that should be 100% okay.

What's next?

Janitors upset they're not invited to the launch party?

Do you really view janitors to be on the same level as QA testers?
 

LegendOfKage

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In this situation, it just sounds like a manager will need to talk to the QA tester and remind him or her to not ask questions like "what are you working on". And to also not give direct feedback in such an informal way. And if they keep doing it they should be fired. But if this same QA tester asked this same developer......"How's your day going today", "You see the game last night", or "Did you get the new iPhone 11 last night" that should be 100% okay.

We agree there, at least sort of. The reasoning behind this is likely because "just don't discuss work with the developers" is itself tacitly condoning conversations about things that aren't work related, which is likely not something that companies want to encourage.

Do you really view janitors to be on the same level as QA testers?

Do you view janitors as less than QA testers? Why? I don't believe that it's right to disrespect anyone or treat them poorly because of their career or education level, I just don't view everyone not getting the same perks as some sort of disrespect or injustice.
 

mckmas8808

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Do you view janitors as less than QA testers? Why? I don't believe that it's right to disrespect anyone or treat them poorly because of their career or education level, I just don't view everyone not getting the same perks as some sort of disrespect or injustice.

For Activision, yeah testing the games and then explaining what's good and bad about it in (in-depth) probably adds to the bottom line profit margin more than a janitor.
 
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cormack12

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Saw the title, thought it would be Screech right away. Article source is always a background disgruntled employee or someone with emotive personal issues. Decorated with some unsubstantiated peripheral remarks. Fear of x with no statistics to back up the fear - still imagining he's on some virtuous crusade.

The human cost. THE HUMAN COST




So basically what happened here was the triumph of finishing a large scale project that likely took years by the development team. A team that went through the blood, sweat and pixels tears of getting a product in a shippable state (or at least ready for QA prior to shipping). An achievement that lacks all context and camaraderie unless you were part of the journey. When it got to this stage the development team wanted an extended celebratory lunch to blow off some steam. The extension to attend the celebration was extended to the QA team, who's work is just really starting. The invitation was for a short time and probably an effort to get everyone together.

Real world context: When an infrastructure team builds up a complex new platform like a large unified compute, the helpdesk don't get invited to the after work drinks.

Next, some bullshit about people are scared for their jobs because of certain things.
Where is this fear from Jason? How many QA testers have been fired or had early terminations on contracts in the last three years? We need context here.

Next, some bullshit about parking a little further away from the entrance
Jason, you're getting worse. Is the main car park for employee's only? Is there a cost for parking and is it garnished from their salary. Are contractor;s excluded from parking in the employee car park etc.

Next some bullshit about catered lunches for teams
Not every lunch is catered (except crunch?), so it's going to be for some milestone being hit, third parties in for the day or a big meeting with the bigwigs. What lunches are catered Jason? And yes, it's common when meetings take place and it is catered, any leftovers are offered to other departments or teams to avoid spoiling or waste.

Next the happy hour event has changed into a raging full on party halfway down the article.
Then he undermines his entire article by confirming the discrepancy in numbers between employees and large numbers of contractors.

Then the flourish of 'I spoke to all these people who wanted anonymity.'

.....the explicit phrasing was that you were not supposed to interact with or talk to them. Which was very strange to me.”

Testers shared anecdotes of only communicating with their developer colleagues through the bug-tracking software JIRA, or keeping friendships quiet so the company can’t find out and let them go.

This is interesting because any development house using JIRA will usually be working on sprint cycles so it needs to follow this specific way of working for the hotfix, fork and release management.

Basically it sounds like he's listened to a few office moans and concocted an entire 3 part mini series around it. Why anyone thinks these articles are anything other than self edifying, narcissistic clickbait is beyond me. It is below the level of things like The Express and Torygraph. It's below even the fucking Spectator in terms of craft and honesty. And to take them as the author intends means suspending all reasonable interpretation and intelligence.
 

DunDunDunpachi

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Saw the title, thought it would be Screech right away. Article source is always a background disgruntled employee or someone with emotive personal issues. Decorated with some unsubstantiated peripheral remarks. Fear of x with no statistics to back up the fear - still imagining he's on some virtuous crusade.

The human cost. THE HUMAN COST




So basically what happened here was the triumph of finishing a large scale project that likely took years by the development team. A team that went through the blood, sweat and pixels tears of getting a product in a shippable state (or at least ready for QA prior to shipping). An achievement that lacks all context and camaraderie unless you were part of the journey. When it got to this stage the development team wanted an extended celebratory lunch to blow off some steam. The extension to attend the celebration was extended to the QA team, who's work is just really starting. The invitation was for a short time and probably an effort to get everyone together.

Real world context: When an infrastructure team builds up a complex new platform like a large unified compute, the helpdesk don't get invited to the after work drinks.

Next, some bullshit about people are scared for their jobs because of certain things.
Where is this fear from Jason? How many QA testers have been fired or had early terminations on contracts in the last three years? We need context here.

Next, some bullshit about parking a little further away from the entrance
Jason, you're getting worse. Is the main car park for employee's only? Is there a cost for parking and is it garnished from their salary. Are contractor;s excluded from parking in the employee car park etc.

Next some bullshit about catered lunches for teams
Not every lunch is catered (except crunch?), so it's going to be for some milestone being hit, third parties in for the day or a big meeting with the bigwigs. What lunches are catered Jason? And yes, it's common when meetings take place and it is catered, any leftovers are offered to other departments or teams to avoid spoiling or waste.

Next the happy hour event has changed into a raging full on party halfway down the article.
Then he undermines his entire article by confirming the discrepancy in numbers between employees and large numbers of contractors.

Then the flourish of 'I spoke to all these people who wanted anonymity.'



This is interesting because any development house using JIRA will usually be working on sprint cycles so it needs to follow this specific way of working for the hotfix, fork and release management.

Basically it sounds like he's listened to a few office moans and concocted an entire 3 part mini series around it. Why anyone thinks these articles are anything other than self edifying, narcissistic clickbait is beyond me. It is below the level of things like The Express and Torygraph. It's below even the fucking Spectator in terms of craft and honesty. And to take them as the author intends means suspending all reasonable interpretation and intelligence.
Quoting epic post for added visibility.
 

mckmas8808

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Saw the title, thought it would be Screech right away. Article source is always a background disgruntled employee or someone with emotive personal issues. Decorated with some unsubstantiated peripheral remarks. Fear of x with no statistics to back up the fear - still imagining he's on some virtuous crusade.

The human cost. THE HUMAN COST


I disagree with most of your post, BUT your issue with the title is 100% correct. The "Human Cost" is going waaaaay too far.
 

prag16

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I still agree with AV that testers aren't the same as the devs themselves though.
This is a terrible attitude, and one of the reasons why games consistently launch in such awful states.

I've worked in QA for 13 years, never in gaming thank God, for four different companies with employee counts ranging from 30 to 15,000, and NONE of them treated their testers anything like this. Not even when I was at the bottom (I'm lead/manager level now).

While a great tester does not carry exactly the same value as a great developer, if you rely largely on no-skill minimum (or close to it) wage contractors for QA, you're going to release extremely buggy software. And as I said the way games typically release supports this.

EDIT: That said, I agree with the general sentiment that Schreier is an asshat (lol "human cost") and a drama queen, and is blowing this out of proportion. If they're no-skill contractors, it's not a huge shock they're being treated as such; my point above is they should not be relying so heavily on no-skill contractors in this capacity. A great experienced senior and/or lead QA professional can be a huge asset every bit as or more important than a great dev, and while I'm sure they have some of these types to oversee the pleb contractors, they shoud probably have more of them.
 
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LegendOfKage

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For Activision, yeah testing the games and then explaining what's good and bad about it in (in-depth) probably adds to the bottom line profit margin more than a janitor.

I'm never opposed to reconsidering my opinions on a given topic, especially when given more information. I'm also a believer in the benefit of doubt, even for Activision, which is why I was defending them against the conclusions being made here.

I never read the article itself, but after hearing more details from Yong Yea's video, I agree that some of this is really wrong. Not allowing air-conditioning overnight seems especially messed up. That's just something that would create a miserable work environment. I didn't even reach the point of the video where Yong gives his opinion yet, and I honestly thought going in that I'd disagree with him, but hearing the rest of the details is changing my mind.

I could have done without the "barbaric" hyperbole in the thread title, though.


 
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AV

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Doesnt matter the position on the company. They work for you, and they are persons like everybody else. Dont treat them like fucking slaves.

Comparing "having to walk 10 minutes to work" to slavery? Bro, you should write for Kotaku.
 
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NikuNashi

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I think this boils down to a very simple but prolific problem with today's youth in the west. They have been given a false view through their education system about what workplaces are like. They have expectations and an inflated view of themselves and from that don't see why they should have to put in the years/decades of hard work climbing up corporations and bettering themselves and their skill sets in order to achieve things.

QA tester wants the same perks as a Senior level Programming Lead with a PHD in Physics, it's pure delusion.
 
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DiscoJer

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Ages ago I was a tester. The reality is, while it could be an entry level job for game design, in practice, you don't have much in the way of skills except for playing games. I was a bit lucky, or maybe it was because it was so long ago (90s), but we actually did talk to the programmers designers and times, and even got recruited to help design buildings and even write filler stories for books that would be found.

Still, at the time, it was a small company focused on PC only. I have to imagine things are much worse there now they've become a AAA developer
 

Whitecrow

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Comparing "having to walk 10 minutes to work" to slavery? Bro, you should write for Kotaku.

Nice cherry picking.

Treating them like underclass employees, or understimating, or not valuing their work and efforts, and not even let them get some rest like the rest of workers, that is, forcing you to continue working while the rest is 'partying', is kind of slavish.
'Hey, you are here to work, you are not allowed to have fun'.

Fuck that.
 
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AV

We ain't outta here in ten minutes, we won't need no rocket to fly through space
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Nice cherry picking. Treating them like underclass employees, or understimating, or not valuing their work and efforts, and not even let them get some rest like the rest of workers, that is, forcing you to continue working while the rest is 'partying', is kind of slavish.
Comparing anything in that article to slavery is totally absurd. Your problem's the same as mckmas, you use hyperbolic language and straight make shit up to make the situation sound worse than it really is, observe:
'Hey, you are here to work, you are not allowed to have fun'.
Hyperbole.
not even let them get some rest like the rest of workers
Lie.
 
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mckmas8808

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I'm never opposed to reconsidering my opinions on a given topic, especially when given more information. I'm also a believer in the benefit of doubt, even for Activision, which is why I was defending them against the conclusions being made here.

I never read the article itself, but after hearing more details from Yong Yea's video, I agree that some of this is really wrong. Not allowing air-conditioning overnight seems especially messed up. That's just something that would create a miserable work environment. I didn't even reach the point of the video where Yong gives his opinion yet, and I honestly thought going in that I'd disagree with him, but hearing the rest of the details is changing my mind.

I could have done without the "barbaric" hyperbole in the thread title, though.



Yeah man it's crazy. I actually think Jason did a horrible job (or some publisher at his company) of coming up with a good title. I think his "The Human Cost" title is turning people off from the actual story.

I think this boils down to a very simple but prolific problem with today's youth in the west. They have been given a false view through their education system about what workplaces are like. They have expectations and an inflated view of themselves and from that don't see why they should have to put in the years/decades of hard work climbing up corporations and bettering themselves and their skill sets in order to achieve things.

QA tester wants the same perks as a Senior level Programming Lead with a PHD in Physics, it's pure delusion.

Expecting to have Air Condition while you work overnight is not some unrealistic workplace idea.
 

#Phonepunk#

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One of the most common complaints I heard from lower-level Treyarch staffers was that despite putting in night after night and weekend after weekend, they were rarely allowed to offer creative input on the game.

low level employees are rarely allowed to offer creative input? no way???

go get a job at McDonalds as a cashier and try to offer creative input. let's see them adopt your "no french fries" idea.

go get a job as a hotel valet and wonder why you aren't consulted on what to charge for penthouse rates.

go get a job as a gaffer on a movie set and wonder why you aren't being asked to punch up the script.

etc. etc. etc. this article is just filled with stupid take after stupid take.
 
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