Our Testing the Limits guest this month is Galina Kramer, the Senior QA Manager of Localization for Zynga. In this role, she is responsible for L10N testing of the company’s web and mobile games, including hits like CastleVille, Mafia Wars Hidden Chronicles and Poker. Galina has over 13 years of experience in quality assurance, with stints at Bill.com, Wells Fargo and others. For more on Galina’s background, check out her LinkedIn profile.
In this interview, we asked Galina about the challenges of testing high-profile applications in more than 16 different languages; what testing is like at Zynga; her criteria for hiring testers; switching industries and other topics. Enjoy!
uTest: You’ve spent much of your QA career in the healthcare and financial sectors. Now, you’re focusing on a different aspect of QA (localization) in a totally different industry (social gaming). What’s been the most difficult adjustment you’ve had to make during this transition? Similarly, what advice do you have for QA professionals switching industries?
GK: The most challenging aspect of working at Zynga overall is the release cadence. I was used to weekly releases, but not daily. Having such a short release cycle brings its own challenges to functional QA, which I managed at Zynga for a year. Now that I am working in Localization QA, it is even more complicated since everything has to get translated first.
My advice to anyone switching industries – GO FOR IT! Try new things and have some fun!! I love working in the gaming industry and never thought work can bring so much enjoyment.
uTest: At Zynga, you oversee L10N for all of the company’s web and mobile games, which are currently supported in 16 different languages (with more to come we assume). What languages or markets have been the most challenging thus far and why?
GK: When we first started localizing our games, we had a lot of issues with staffing for certain languages and that was a real challenge. Now that we have established a robust process, we are smooth sailing. It helps having great partnerships with both internal and external teams in order to make things happen as fast as we need them to.
uTest: Not only are you supporting 16 languages, you’re also supporting countless versions of operating systems, mobile devices, wireless carriers and other factors. How is your team able to manage such a complex testing matrix?
GK: It’s all about prioritization and risk assessment. We shuffle resources on a daily basis depending on a priority and work together. Teamwork is the key, truly.
uTest: With so many users who are willing to report issues, it’s often assumed that in-depth testing isn’t needed in certain industries, such as social media and gaming. This is obviously not the case at Zynga. What is the company’s philosophy when it comes to testing and QA? And has it changed as they continue to expand their global footprint?
GK: Zynga takes testing very seriously and understands that our players’ happiness and enjoyment is the key to our success. We listen to our players all the time – QA teams work with CS and Community so that we are constantly aware of what our players are feeling.
I don’t think Zynga changed the way we do things now – I think we are becoming smarter with every new launch and therefore things are getting smoother. It’s all about learning and getting better at what you do. If every team does that you are in good shape.
uTest: True or false: Localization is the most challenging type of testing.
GK: True. The main reason is the timing. QA is always the last line of defense and often does not get enough time to do the job properly (because other teams slip the schedule). Well, in the case of localization it’s even more complicated because the translators must do their part before it can be tested. Hence, more wait time.
uTest: Aside from being challenging, localization is arguably one of the most misunderstood testing types. We don’t expect you to disclose any specific bugs, but what are some of the types of issues that are uncovered during the course of a localization test? Misspellings? Poor translations? Others? And while we’re at it, how do you define localization testing?
GK: Localization testing covers all of the above and more We definitely look for misspellings, poor translations, truncation issues… We need to make our games equally enjoyable in every language. This means keeping in mind culture differences, religious beliefs, language intricacies – all of it.
uTest: Fill in the blank: The most important quality Zynga looks for when hiring a tester is ____.
GK: When I interview testers the main thing I look for is Passion. A great manager once told me: “If an interview candidate does not know something you can teach him/her and in six months he/she can become an expert in the field. If a person doesn’t have passion inside of them – six months later he/she will still not have passion,” I really believe in that.
uTest: Users have incredibly high expectations when it comes to Zynga’s games. If something isn’t right, we expect that complaints are made quite publicly. Has the spotlight of Zynga changed the way you approach testing? What advice do you have for test teams whose products are very much public facing?
GK: I have always taken testing very seriously and brought that into Zynga with me.
One piece of advice I can give is – put passion in your work and get it done the way that makes you proud. If you do that people will love it.
uTest: Be honest: testing games like Farmville, Mafia Wars and FrontierVille is not what you had in mind when you started your QA career 10 years ago. That said, what did attract you to the testing space to begin with? What were your expectations?
GK: It was over 13 years ago, and I found myself constantly finding imperfections in software. I would write up a few issues at a time and email the web masters about it. One day I heard back from one of the sites I emailed and was offered a job as a tester. The rest is history
uTest: What do you like most about testing?
GK: I like seeing a product go from buggy to clean. I am very passionate about every game or product my team is responsible for and the feeling I get during every launch is a thrill equivalent to skydiving (and I love skydiving!).
uTest: What’s Galina Kramer doing when she’s not helping Zynga launch world-class social gaming apps?
GK: Playing with my one year old toy poodle Sterling, watching Manchester United (English soccer) or trying out new restaurants in the city.
Editor’s note: Thanks for checking out this month’s Testing the Limits interview. If you have ideas for future interviews, send us your suggestions.