Agile testing games at STPCon with Lanette Creamer

In this interview, software consultant Lanette Creamer explains what Agile testing games are and how they can be used to develop the skills of software testers.

“I love to think about how I would test amazing inventions that don’t exist yet,” answers software testing consultant Lanette Creamer when asked about her favorite Agile testing game. Creamer talks about how playing games such as these can spark creativity, an important trait for a software tester. Creamer will be leading an interactive session at STPCon titled, “Agile testing games.” Read on for a preview of what to expect.

SSQ: You have a session at STPCon titled “Agile testing games.” Will you be talking about games such as those promoted by Luke Hohmann’s Innovation Games?

Lanette Creamer: No, I won’t be modeling the games after anything in particular. I’ll simply bring some objects, and some back story. With whatever I provide, I’ll expect participants to play along with the rules for small prizes of their choosing and Internet fame. For those expecting a free laptop or some other awesome prize, sadly, the fabulous prizes won’t be quite that fabulous!

SSQ: Are these testing games associated with a particular Agile methodology such as Scrum? What makes them “Agile”?

Creamer: It isn’t so much that the games are “Agile,” but that the games are “Agile Testing.” If I had more time for this one, I would design it so there was something to develop as well as something to test, but these are exercises to have some fun while also practicing some of the skills that are used when testing Agile software. I’m giving the tester a user story, along with something we’ll pretend was created to fulfill that story. That part is where we deviate from Agile development. We are going to pretend real life objects are the software under test. Testers will invent tests, and execute them against the product. Much like a real project, they must do the best testing possible in the given time. It is Agile because they must rely on the story and the product to test. It is a game because we aren’t actually testing software to ship to customers. I do practice testing on real software sometimes. I call that learning, but some people call that “working for free.”

SSQ: Agile methodologies promote testing early, sometimes, as in test-driven development, using automated tests that can be run as regression tests with each build for continuous integration. Will these testing games involve any planning or movement towards automated testing?

Creamer: It could. Automation ideas are welcome.

SSQ: Can you tell us a little about your favorite testing game and why you like it?

Creamer: I love to think about how I would test amazing inventions that don’t exist yet. It’s so fun to think about what would happen if we could time travel, what the edge cases might be, and what could happen in case of errors. It opens up the creative part of the mind, and as well as thinking about what could be possible, it gives you some insight into how other testers think when you hear both their serious answers, and the non-serious. In my blog, I once asked how we could test the beta of a transportation device. I thought it was hilarious when the answer was to ask the developer to get in to see how confident they were feeling about the safety.

SSQ: Who do you think would most benefit from this presentation and why?

Creamer:  This isn’t a presentation. It is an interactive experience. People who want to do something fun, try out new test ideas they are learning, or even those who are curious to win a prize should come play some testing games. Taking some time out of simply listening to interact will refresh you for more sessions in the day, and sharing your ideas that are being learned at STPCon is a good way to review basic test strategy, and hear what your fellow conference attendees are learning that you may have missed. The curious should certainly come check out my items to test, as I’ve brought some bizarre stuff that you may have never seen before. Keep your fingers crossed that they all make it through TSA inspection, as I’ve lost objects to test in the same of safety before. I’m actually checking my test objects this time so that the odds are better of them making it.

One more thing. I’m going to try to carry some test objects on me while I’m at the conference. If you’d like to play a game during lunch or at one of the social events, just let me know! I’ll be the redhead who is likely overheated since I’m from Seattle. I’m hoping for cool temperatures at STPcon this year.

For more from Lanette Creamer, read Software development: Benefits of pairing programmers and non-programmers.

Lanette Creamer is an independent software testing consultant and coach from Seattle, WA.  Known in the blogging community as TestyRedhead, her blog can be found at http://blog.testyredhead.com/. Her presentations are known for being candid, including cat photos, and being focused on the human side of software testing. Recently focused on Agile testing and pairing with developers, in the past her papers and presentations have focused on combining automated checks with exploratory charters, and group collaborative testing techniques.

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