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Matt Booty’s dreams render QA testers obsolete

“There will come a time when man is obsolete. Robots will go sentient and mankind will merely serve as fodder. This… is Armageddon. The end of the human species’ dominance.” While Matt Booty’s dreams don’t exactly encompass this doomsday scenario, they might be bad news for QA testers worldwide. Because if we’re to believe the Head of Xbox Game Studios, having AI go over your game instead of a human tester might just be the future of game development.

It might be a hard pill to swallow, but Matt might’ve been onto something while speaking at PAX West 2022. With games getting bigger and more complex, they’re also more prone to bugs. Ask Bethesda. But that also means that QA testing starts to require more time, which a lot of developers simply won’t get. Tick-tock, motherfucker! The shareholders are getting impatient. So what if Artificial Intelligence could be trained to run your game over and over in a matter of minutes? Or even better, have multiple AI run your games simultaneously, each programmed to stress test multiple aspects of your game. See where Matt’s going at?

“You think about a game, one of the biggest differences between a game and something like a movie, is if we’re working on a movie and you come in and say ‘hey, this ending, let’s tighten this up, let’s edit this, let’s cut that scene’, it usually doesn’t break anything at the beginning of the movie.

“But in a game you can be ready to ship, and a designer’s like, ‘I’ve got this one little feature, I’m just going to change the colour on this one thing’’ and then it somehow blows up something and now the first 10 minutes of the game doesn’t play.

“So that testing aspect, every single time anything new goes into a big game the whole game has to be tested, front-to-back, side-to-side.

“My dream – there’s a lot going on with AI and machine learning right now, and people using AI to generate all these images.

Matt Booty
If you’re a QA tester, this man might one day cause you to go on welfare. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images)

“What I always say when I bump into the AI folks, is: ‘Help me figure out how to use an AI bot to go test a game.’

“Because I would love to be able to start up 10,000 instances of a game in the cloud, so there’s 10,000 copies of the game running, deploy an AI bot to spend all night testing that game, then in the morning we get a report. Because that would be transformational.

“I always kind of laugh a little bit, people always say ‘the game shipped on Tuesday but I hear they were fixing bugs on Saturday night’ – there’s months of testing and things that have to happen before a game goes out.”

Still, even if Matt brings some strong arguments to the table, we have to keep those poor QA testers in mind. All those years of hunting down bugs, just to get bested by ones and zeroes. Tough stuff, man. Then again, how sorry are we feeling now when we head to the self-checkout desk at the supermarket? See where I’m getting at?