The world of Quality Assurance can be a potentially mentally exhausting job and to be fair... that’s correct! You get to interact with people that are very passionate about gaming during your entire shift, with some very extreme opinions that can be outright appalling!
(I have 5 years of experience working for an outsourcing QA company (Full disclosure: I got fired months ago for something that was totally my fault). More importantly, I’m not American - Thus there’s caveats everywhere as my experience won’t be the same as what you’ll find in the good ol’ US of A (Mainly, we have some sort of worker protection here) and it won’t be the same as someone who worked directly for a developer or a publisher. Practically every former QA employee has a different story and opinion on the business.)
Allow me to put a content warning up here - Some of you may not like that, but I’d rather be blunt about the subject. I’ll be bringing up subjects of sexual harassment in a workplace environment. Don’t give me that look, you knew that’s where this was going, but that’s not the entirety of this post. There are, after all, other ways you can be a dick in a workplace environment, and by golly we will be covering all sorts of things here.
“All right, you talked about literal dicks last time. What do you have now?”
Let me take you back to the far flung date of August 2014. No, no, don’t leave yet. I promise you, I’m not going where you think I’m going but we are going to pass by it. The gaming space of the web will soon be taken over with a years long harassment campaign against anything that isn’t straight, cis, white and male. People who really should have known better get swept up in this frenzy of hate and eventually end up regretting their actions.
Meanwhile, I’m at a client’s office, returning from lunch, finding out that one of the client’s employees that was slated for a promotion be unceremoniously kicked out of the company due to investigations that found out he’d been sexually harassing practically every woman in QA, from either our offices or theirs for at least a year. Keep in mind, some of these women were able to shut that shit down for their personal sake - Others, however, were afraid as he was an experienced person with good standing in the company and could ruin their chances further, or outright give them a negative review.
“Ouch. I don’t see what the second has to do with the first though?”
Ultimately, most people you’ll find in QA are gamers and this comes with all the possible trappings of making this statement. Sometimes, you’ll find the lovely people that post at TAY or leave insightful comments on the regular. Sometimes, you’ll find a dude that has an anime avatar on twitter that is ranting about how females are taking away his fapping material.
The key here is learning how to navigate around that stuff. The first thing you need to know is the same as with all businesses: HR is not your friend. Most of you working in offices will say “Duh!” or whatever is your expression of annoyance at repeating a truism. Others’ll chime in with their experiences. Thing is, HR has obligations towards the company and their actions will take that into consideration moreso than your well-being.
“Can’t have been that bad, right? They kept you on for years. Erm, no offense.”
None taken. This holds true even for companies where there are no appearant problems. My former place of employment was extremely progressive when you think about it. As soon as, say, a trans person decided to be more out at work, they were extremely quick to change the name on the roster list if they were made aware. They never forced the issue, it was just entering the name change into the system and done. That’s who they are now. I’ve seen a handful of name changes in my time at the company and few people were disrespectful to their faces. Of course, what was said in the shadows, I don’t know.
That doesn’t mean you should not have a cordial relationship with HR. When I was fired, I actually required HR to do me several solids and if I had acted like a complete snot waffle I would have a lot more issues. Most of the people working at HR I met at that company cared more about the employees than the policies enacted showed.
“You make ‘em sound glowing! So why the hostility?”
Even with this type of progressive environment, there was a documented incident where the head of HR at the time told a woman employee that “Maybe you shouldn’t have aroused him then.” when said employee complained about sexual harassment from a co-worker. Another incident, with a different head of HR, involved an outright aggression (not sexual) and due to said person being “protected” (ex co-worker’s words there), HR told the victim that they would only do something about it if the victim agreed to follow the exact procedure they outlined, which involved apologizing to the aggressor. While I understand that it is HR’s job to minimize any damage to the company in such situations, asking a victim of anything to apologize to the aggressor as some sort of conflict resolution is kind of shitty. According to the victim of that incident, their policy changed later on, but they also confided to me that if that person was ever violent towards them again, he wouldn’t go to HR - he’d call the cops.
That’s also not counting the incidents that were not high enough to be escalated to HR. We all know of nerf dart shenanigans in offices, of switching wallpapers on people who left their workstations unlocked and unattended, or wallpaper wars that keep on escalating. Even had an incident where one guy, to play a prank on someone, decided to flip his PC upside down. Y’know, damaging the equipment for good ol’ chicanery. The people taking care of the computers weren’t fans of that one.
In short, working in QA is essentially working with a gaming article comment section on a beloved website. Still fun, still gotta have a modicum of respect or else you’re gonna get tossed on your ass... Provided the people in charge of that do their jobs.
I’ve obviously left some stories on the table - I’ve also omitted a lot of details on some of these stories for obvious reasons. Any suggestions or questions on things I can tackle next? I can talk about Crunch in Outsourcing since, in my experience, that tended to not really be a thing other than for volunteers (but not volunteering would be noted on your work evaluation), or I can talk about more nitty-gritty aspects of the job (I’ll not mention specifics on how we did things in the office because I’m PRETTY SURE that’s trade secrets, of course).