Head of Xbox Game Studios, Matt Booty, has made it known that he is dreaming of an AI & machine learning-powered QA process outside of normal human interaction. Booty made this point during his panel at PAX West, “Storytime With Matt Booty.” As to why Booty mentioned how human-driven QA testing hasn’t kept up with the pace of content creation, he believes that AI-powered testing bots could be “transformational” for the gaming industry.
He pointed to how films are made, compared to video games, as to why QA testing is important. VGC reported his comment, “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 color 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.”
The Head of Xbox Game Studios went on to say that his “dream” is to see AI-powered testers become a reality, pointing to programs such as DALL-E 2, “There’s a lot going on with AI and machine learning right now, and people using AI to generate all these 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 the game, then in the morning we get a report. Because that would be transformational.”
But before you consider your dream job of QA testing a thing of the past, one has to only look at how other industries have used artificial intelligence. That’s because, so far, fears of AI-powered machines removing the human element, thus terminating the need for human labor, have not materialized. Instead, we’ve seen artificial intelligence used to enhance already existing skillsets possessed by their human users.
This suggestion by one of gaming’s most well-known figures doesn’t come without some controversy. That’s because QA testers are among the lowest paid and most vulnerable employees in the gaming industry. As PCMag reported this year, calls for QA unionization have increased with Bioware’s Dragon Age 4 studio, Keywords Studios, applied to form a union with the Alberta Labor Relations Board due to what are claimed to be low-paid positions and overwork.
If Matt Booty’s dream comes to life, it will be interesting how this will affect the entire gaming industry, from studio, to labor, over the next few years.