Testing Dojo - The Light-bot game

24 April 2012
Lukasz Morawski
Frink_Cognifide_2016_HeaderImages_0117
A different kettle of fish, this time. Improve your testing skills by playing games! This exercise, in particular, aims to improve problem solving skills of a tester. Also, encourage some creative thinking.

Application

Light-bot, a flash game (http://www.funnygames.co.uk/light-robot.htm) - programme a little robot to "light" blue squares. Light-bot game
Light-bot game, first level

Mission Tasks:

  1. Finish as many levels as you can.
  2. Question: Does this teach you something?
  3. Additional task: try to implement a recursive function that lights up and lights down the square.
  4. Challenge: Try to finish the game with less than 205 commands (my result).

Time: 40 minutes
Testers: Cognifide QA Team

The Dojo

The main question asked while conducting this dojo was how such an exercise can help testers. Is it a waste of time or just a free time killer? Or will it really teach us something?

 Obviously, it helps testers who develop tests because the main goal is to program the robot, but is it helpful for functional testers who don’t write code? This conversation led us to think what tasks really help us to do and our observations were:
  • Task grouping - we can learn how to prepare to test, manage our time,
  • Algorithm - developers create algorithms which we test
  • Searching for patterns - functions are patterns, while testing we search patterns to identify and reproduce bugs,
  • Developer view - we learn how to be a developer, what challenges and what problems he is facing ("you fixed it instead of refactor the code"),
  • Logic - we're trained to think logically,
  • Inquisitiveness - sometimes you need to be very inquisitive to find some bugs, they hide well.

 And the three main reasons to conduct such a dojo was:
  • Creative thinking - testing needs creativity to be successfully conducted,
  • Problem solving – as a testers, we are faced to problems which we are supposed to solve. We have to handle it.
  • Building a team spirit

Summary
I was little afraid before conducting this dojo because this was not a standard event. I didn't know how my fellow testers would react to such a (trivial at first glance) exercise. But it was OK, we went through the dojo without a hitch. Participants were engrossed by the game and concerned with finishing as many levels as they could but burdened by the time constraint, we managed to get to 10th level. Also, teams came up with an enhancement for the game – “a hot seat mode”. Here, every tester is allowed to make one move then the next one makes their move and so on.

This shows that there can be many ways to achieve one goal and most of the time, we have to choose only one. Such games would also illustrate the limits for us testers (time, knowledge, tools) and teach you how to overcome them. This, I believe could be a great example of team work. Hmm, I wonder if such an approach would result in any success. We will definitely try this out someday!

Unfortunately, on this dojo, we didn't manage to complete all missions - implementation of recursive function were left for other time. And the homework is still to be done - 205 commands to beat. Anyone to match ? Light-bot game
Can you beat my result?