The Gamification of Software Testing—An Interview with Christin Wiedemann

Christin: I don’t actually think it’s a hard sell. People in all levels that I talk to tend to see the value. It’s just that they’ve never thought of it. They never made a connection between playing games and actually learning something that would improve your work performance. And I think it’s important to clearly define though what you learn from a certain game or what the skills are that you’re practicing.
Otherwise the game of course loses a lot of its value and it might also just be seen as a game and a waste of work time.
There’s still a tendency in general I think to see work and fun as opposites.
And they’re definitely not and that’s where you should try to start. If you let it, it’s okay to have fun at work.
Noel: If it’s not so much a hard sell to leadership, or maybe the question should be can it be sometimes more difficult to convince an employee, maybe one who has been around for a while and has been in an environment where this has never really been done before. Do you think it can be sometimes even more difficult to convince an employee who is not seeing the benefits of gaming and the skills that it will improve even though some people in the organization may really preach this highly? Do you think it can be hard sometimes to convince just other people to kind of play along with the rest of the team even if management and leadership has welcomed it in?
Christin: I don’t think I really met anyone so far who doesn’t enjoy some kind of game or puzzle, whether it’s riddles, Sudoku, or crossword puzzles.
The problem is that people often fear that they will be assessed on their performance. So they might be reluctant to participate because they’re afraid of failing. They’re afraid of trying something they haven’t tried before because they don’t know the answers. And of course the whole point of playing these games is that you don’t know the answer. You’re trying to learn and improve your skills. So the key is really to make sure that the games are never used to evaluate people.
And that they understand and trust that.
Noel: That’s really great, being never used for evaluation. I haven’t really heard anyone say that before.
Christin: I think it needs to be pointed out explicitly actually. It’s also important to make sure that everyone can succeed.
You definitely don’t want to set people up for failure. So, a good way to get past people’s initial fear is usually to make people work in groups that they’re comfortable with. People solve tasks together so that they build up their own confidence.
Noel: That’s really good. I was at a party this weekend where my six-year-old son was with me and some people were playing one of those Dance Dance Revolution games for the Xbox Kinect where it tracks your movement. My six-year-old secretly really enjoys dancing, and he didn’t want to get up and do it because there were grownups around and he was embarrassed and shy.
There was a girl my age who really wanted to show him how to play. I told him “she really wants to show you how to do it because she knows you’ll think it’s fun. You should let her show you how.” He said he didn’t want to because “she’ll beat me.” I said to him “Yeah, she’ll probably beat you … but that’s not the point of it.”

User 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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