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How has Virtual Reality changed game testing?

Several years ago VR (Virtual Reality) has blown up the entertainment market and now it is considered to be one of the most perspective fields of the progress. From the start, it seemed to be something very far and unattainable, but indeed we were wrong. Many companies produce their own VR sets, many developers create applications and games with a focus on VR. It is really impressive.

As development of VR games expands, the testing becomes more required as well. And testing of VR products requires more attention, since those are not usual programs with similar elements. There are many aspects which need to be taken into consideration.

The “presence effect” of VR is actually the main goal of the game. “Presence” means some kind of illusion that you are in other reality, not just in room, but somewhere in another real fantastic world. During testing it is important not only to check that the application works properly, but to evaluate and describe your feelings, since every game has the audience with special interests and preferences. Not every game provides the sense of real, it is not easy to cheat your brain and make it think and react as though everything happens in reality. The most common reasons for the failure of “presence effect” also are unrealistic music, which can confuse a user and prevent him from being hooked, or sudden framerate drop.

Another important peculiarity of VR games testing is time spent. To play more than 30-40 minutes is physically hard – so called “virtual-reality sickness” appears. Symptoms are similar to motion sickness: headache, disorientation, nausea, etc. For this reason, the tester has to stop his work every half an hour at least for 15 minutes in order to recover the normal condition of an organism. Moreover, it brings more results if one tester performs the testing itself and another tester helps him by supervising the checking process and recording videos, logs screenshots when it is necessary. You may think that such tests are performed by specialists with strong vestibular system, but actually, it is necessary to determine the level on which it is comfortable to play the game. That is why it is preferable to test the game by more sensitive testers.

During VR testing much depends on space and high system performance. Nothing and nobody should bother a tester, otherwise the specialist will be injured and run a risk to break the VR set (take into consideration, that the set is pretty heavy). Besides, personal computer used during the testing should have enough capability to overload the maximum extent. If the frame rate is low, then the image quality will be poor, thus, causing discomfort and eyestrain.

Bad news for automated testing specialists is here. There is no work for them, when it comes to VR. Automation is more suitable for testing other types of functionality, however, here the involvement of real testers is a must, since many aspects of VR experience are based on the perception.

As for bug reporting, there is not much difference from bug reporting while usual game testing. A bug is always based on knowledge, experience and prescribed parameters – specification. It is a misbelief that it is hard for a developer to understand the problem, but in fact everything is clearly described: what, where and when.

In general, with the appearance of VR technology, the game development world became more interesting and diverse. But at the same time, we have new challenges. Software testing team has to build radically different strategy, plan the work and evaluate its scope and timeframe, taking into consideration not previous experience with usual games, but all peculiarities of VR game process.

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