The Gamification of Software Testing—An Interview with Christin Wiedemann

[interview]
Noel: I agree. So, I know that sweeping generalizations are usually frowned upon, but I’ve interviewed a lot of testers over time and a lot of them believe that they (testers) are a little different and I don’t know if it’s creativity or if it’s just the ability to think differently than other team members. I know you were just saying that you don’t think it’s limited to testing, that the mind is truly special for everyone, but would you say that testers kind of have a natural kind of creativity and even curiosity that gaming really tends to help out?
 
Christin: I would say that I think that good software testers do.
 
I think you need a little bit of imagination to be able to both see things from a user’s perspective, and to predict issues, as well as coming up with different scenarios that the developers might never have thought of because that’s typically where you’re going to find problems, right?
 
Noel: Right.
 
Christin: And you need a curiosity just to drive your own learning.
 
Noel: I can say that though I’m an avid a gamer myself, maybe I don’t give gaming enough credit, because I feel like whenever I want to turn something into a game—it’s just so I can have more fun, really. It’s solely because I enjoy playing them so much. I’ve never been able to defend the amount of gaming that I do. It’s because for me I’ve always just looked at it as something fun, but I feel like a lot more people are seeing an additional value in it. Things like being able to boost your creativity in your thinking skills. I was curious as to how you see gaming doing this. Maybe so I can have more ammo when someone challenges the amount of gaming that I do.
 
Christin: I think we need to start by defining gaming.
 
When I say "games" I use the word in its broadest sense. I include all types of logical games, puzzles, riddles, team building exercises, etc. And I think that different types of games teach us different things, but always can be applied both our personal and professional lives. So, typically riddles and puzzles train our critical thinking and pattern recognition skills.
 
But it also trains our capability of thinking outside of the box, which basically is being creative and to find answers that are not obvious. I mean, take any typical puzzle or the type of riddles you were trying to solve when you were a kid, they’re usually set up in a way to try to fool you, right?
 
Noel: Right.
 
Christin: To present a false, but seemingly obvious answer where the truth is hidden beneath another couple of layers and that’s just what testing’s about, is trying to see past that false answer and find the truth.
 
Noel: Do you think that gaming in the workplace is, well, obviously it’s still fairly new, but, in looking at the number of sessions that are starting to talk about gaming and the number of companies that are starting to use it, do you think it can still be sometimes a hard sell to management or leadership who have maybe not introduced something like that during company time? Do you think that people who attend your session can get what they need to be able to go back and convince management or leadership why this is good idea?
 

User Comments

2 comments
Christin Wiedemann's picture
Christin Wiedemann

I don't think any gaming experience is required, instead you try to find games that appeal to everyone's inherent curiousity. Some games might be slightly more beneficial for certain areas of testing, but I believe that what's more important is that all games help train the general tester mind set.

September 17, 2013 - 6:43am
Mukesh Sharma's picture
Mukesh Sharma

Christin - Introducing games in testing is something I've been hearing a lot about recently. I'm excited to this how this evolves over the years. As a tester, would a person need to have any gaming experience in exploring this area or are we primarily leveraging the person's inherent gaming skills here? Also, would specific test areas (functional, UI, usability, performance, security) benefit more from a game based testing approach or the value is going to be more or less the same across test areas?

September 13, 2013 - 7:59am

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