Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reflection: Weekend Testers - Americas #1


Take 21 testers, one group Skype session, one open source application in beta state, and me trying to moderate the whole thing and what do you get? You get the first Weekend Testers session to take place in the Americas!


The session report and chat transcript can be seen here.

Setting up for this session was interesting. We had most of the technical details taken care of early on with regards to the application (accounts in bug repository, the method for setting up the group chat, etc.) but we were still wondering what would be a good first testing challenge. This really went all the way until Thursday, until I came across an application called StepMania. StepMania is a "clone" of the Dance Dance Revolution games, and can be run on PC, Mac and Windows. With this, I though, "OK, this could be a fun and interesting application". I had a feeling that many people would not be big fans of this, but it would be fun to see the interaction.


We had hoped we would have a good turnout, but I didn't expect to see 21 people attend! Nor did I expect to see so many people from all over the world attending. When I saw that we had four people initially sign in from India, wow... these were people willing to come in at midnight to participate in these testing sessions!


The goal of the session was two-fold. First, we wanted to encourage the group members to collaborate with each other, so we made that the primary mission of the testing session. This was a key takeaway that I learned from AST's BBST Foundations, and I wanted to see how it played out in real life. Sure enough, a number of the testers during the session became very focused on the bugs they found, but didn't emphasize the primary focus, which was to work with and learn how to test with their partner. The name of the session, Let's Dance, was meant to have a double meaning. First, the game itself is a dance related game, but the idea of having two people learn how to work together and share ideas was a "dance" in and of itself.


The general feedback was that people enjoyed the experience, even if they found some of the interaction to be frustrating. It was definitely a challenge to manage so many people at one time, and I frequently felt like the conversation was getting away from me. My thanks to Joe Harter for giving us some cover and helping direct questions and provide some "crowd control".


Our next session is scheduled for this coming Saturday, November 20th, at the same time (2:00 PM EST, 11:00 AM PST). We are still debating what challenge to do this time, and we encourage suggestions. What would you like to see us take on?
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