Nevermind robots and guys in third world countries stealing your game testing jobs -- the competition might soon include that snotty little 11 year old down the street. Acclaim's (lead guitarist?) David Perry is raising eyebrows with their distributed approach to game testing; leveraging the power of the internet to use their best customers as lab rats instead of ponying up for yuppie sweatshops (no offense, San Francisco):
"Normally, you pay 20 or 30 people to test a game for six months. You give them office space. You buy computers for them. It’s a huge cost. Instead, we decided to include the community every single chance we get, so all the testing is done by consumers. They test everything 100%.” This comes at a time when auto-testing is becoming more fashionable. Perry says, “With advanced self testing, the games play themselves. With automated testing the bot will try to go in every possible direction and in every room, every day, in every part of your game, trying to get up through the ceilings and everything. You want consumers who don’t know where to go, banging into every object, falling over everything, trying to get up through the walls. Traditional testers hammering away on something? I don’t know. Those days are going to go away.”
Seems like a good deal for Acclaim and the gaming community. They save money, and average joes get to be more involved in the industry by trying defective games before anyone else. Open betas have certainly become trendy, so it should be no surprise to anyone that these efforts are becoming more sophisticated and involved with development teams. With all the horror stories we've read from awful living conditions and hours at some sgios, I'm sure some testers will be happy to know they can pull their 20 hour fart-filled shower-starved gaming shifts from the smells and comforts of their own beds. As long as mom's paying the rent, this is good news.
[Full article on Next-Gen]