Video games have changed the world, not only as a cultural movement but also as a technological marvel. In the early days of computer science, a group of college students at MIT designed one of the most influential games ever created called Spacewar! Developed in 1961 on the most advanced hardware for its time, Spacewar! opened a Pandora’s box for innovations that has reshaped the world in many ways.
The year 2005 saw the launch of the Xbox 360 as the first gaming machine of the seventh generation of consoles. Not only do the machines of this generation act as simple gaming consoles, they have become the centerpiece of many homes as a media hub capable of video playback, wireless internet access, and even fitness training. The technology inside these machines has become so advanced that the “Cell” microprocessor of the Playstation 3 even has applications in supercomputing.
One of the results of having so much computational power available for developers is that games today feature the most realistic graphics ever seen, incredibly deep stories, various gameplay mechanics, and highly complex AI systems. As video games become more compelling and accessible to the general public, they have become main stream and highly commercialized. Modern gamers have grown up playing games from an early age and have developed gaming intelligence.
Intelligent gamers have an understanding of what makes a game enjoyable and what features are detrimental to the experience causing them to become selective over which product is worth the financial investment. Today, developers face the difficult task of pushing the limits of the game console while trying to implement enough features to attract the modern gamer. The extraordinary cost of producing a game places a heavy burden on publishers and development studios to create a product that can compete and generate sales when it hits the market.
The video game market is inundated with products creating a highly competitive environment where the majority of games fail to sell in great quantities. The games that do the best on the market receive attention for being fully functional, feature rich, and enjoyable. Placing an emphasis on the quality assurance stage of development can help give a new product every advantage upon launching to the public.
The importance of quality assurance and game testing prior to the release of a product cannot be understated. Often times it is difficult for a developer to make changes to a game after it is released, even the occasional patch distributed online may have unexpected adverse effects. In addition, fixing games post release can be an expensive endeavor that may not pay off if the products reputation has been damaged.