Testers can learn from the Hunger Games

Recently I read the first book of The Hunger Games Trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. The book is also very interesting if you think a little bit deeper about it. What can we as software testers learn from the Hunger Games?

1. Explore the environment.

When Katniss, the main character in the book enters the virtual world, she did not know how it looked like. Every year the games take place in a new virtual world. What does it mean for her? She needs to know the world. Where is the water supply, where can she find food. And so on. How does she find it? By exploring that new world.
In the world of software testers, this is the same. Every new product, or even every new build, some new features can be found. The tester needs to explore that new build. How does it work? What are the mistakes? If I do this, what happens then next in the system?
Like Katniss, the tester also needs to remember what the system did on certain places. Sometimes buttons can appear and disappear, depending on the state of the program. Search for states, search for little changes that may not happen.

2. Keep living (testing)

To win the game, Katniss should listen to one advice. Just keep living. Do not let other persons kill you.

For us, software testers, this is also the case. We have to win. But when do we win? When our customer(s) is (are) satisfied with the quality of our software product we provide.

For us, this means that we need to test the product until quality is good enough. Good enough to win the trust of our customers in the product. Customers who are not happy will not return in the future.

3. Challenge the rules.

The rules of the Hunger Games are very simple. Kill each other and the last one that survives will win the game. In the very end, only two players where alive. Two from the same district. Katniss had the poison berries and gave a few berries to Peeta. They wanted to eat them together. If they did, then there should be no winner that year. At the very last moment, suddenly there was a voice yelling that this year, there are two winners. It means they defeated the rules.

Is this not like we always do? We challenge the system to see if the rules are fulfilled. Rules are in our case, the requirements. We try to get around requirements to see if there are mistakes in the requirements itself. The system can maybe put in such a state, that the system violates some requirements.

4. Rules can change.

Suddenly there was a voice. The rules of the game changes. Now two persons can win the game if they are from the same district. Katniss was happy about that. Now she does not have to kill Peeta. So this means that the strategy of Katniss is now completely different. She can look after Peeta and together they can try to survive. But in the end the rules of the game changes again. This means again a strategy change for the players.

This looks a lot like we work with our agile team. The requirements can change very fast. This mean that also the testing strategy can change and also the testing itself. What yesterday looked like a bug is now no bug anymore. Or maybe a new one appears.

We as testers in agile teams need to adapt to changes. Try to do it, then you will survive.