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’What Agile Teams can Learn from World of Warcraft’ by Alexandra Schladebeck


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World of Warcraft and agile teams have many parallels in terms of role distribution, team-building, task management and communication. This talk starts by looking at concepts from WoW with direct parallels for agile teams: Duality of Roles, Team Building, Sustainability, "Questing" and Tools. Following this, the differences are noted: Lack of Dungeon Guides, Reliance on Specific Members, No Flying Dragons

As a conclusion, we look at why achieving goals in the fantasy world works so well, why it doesn't always work so well in real life, and what we could do to change that. We consider whether roles on an agile team can be compared to roles in WoW (testers: healers or damage dealers?), and what conclusions can be drawn from such comparisons.

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’What Agile Teams can Learn from World of Warcraft’ by Alexandra Schladebeck

  1. 1. What Agile Teams Can Learn FromWorld of WarcraftAlexandra Schladebeck, Bredex GmbH, GermanyAlexandra earned a degree and an MA in linguistics from York University beforestarting work at BREDEX GmbH, where she is a trainer and consultant forautomated testing and test processes. As a product owner, she is also responsiblefor developing user stories with customers as well as documentation and testing.Alex frequently represents BREDEX at conferences, where she talks about agilityand testing from project experience. She is also involved in event organisation andcustomer communication.Alex started playing World of Warcraft almost seven years ago and has beenhooked ever since…
  2. 2. Join the conversation on Twitter#esconfs@esconfs@alex_schlwww.eurostarconferences.comContinue the conversation with the speaker on Twitter after the show!
  3. 3. Agenda• Introductions and mandatory geek check• World of Warcraft – a beginner’s guide• Parallels with agile• Differences to agile• What can we learn?
  4. 4. Introductions• BREDEX GmbH– Software development and consulting– Focus on quality– Focus on communication– Increasing use of agile practicesand you?
  5. 5. Brief introduction to WoW• Create a character– Race– Class– Equipment– Talents– Profession– SkillsCharacterRaceSkills (innateabilities)ClassEquipmentEnchantmentsImprovementsTalentsSkills (talentbased)Skills (class-based)ProfessionSkillsPictures:
  6. 6. Alex’s Character:Blood Elf PriestBlood ElfDisrupt magic,resist magicPriestMagic cloak+5 intellectShadow formMind flayLevitate,Shadow Word:PainHerbalismLifeblood (heal)Example characterPicture:
  7. 7. Go on quests• Quests– Find things– Kill things– Save things– Collect things• Dungeons– Killing and questing in a group, separate from others– Big “bosses” to kill• Raids– Killing and questing in a very large group (25)
  8. 8. Agile vs. WoWSimilarities• Roles– Assignment & Flexibility• Team– Creation– Communication– Collaboration– Improvement• Task management– Granularity– Estimation– Pace– ToolsDifferences• Team– Reliance on members– Dragons and portals• Task management– Dungeon guides?
  9. 9. Roles: AssignmentRoles in WoW- Healer- Tank- Damage DealerAssigned based on various factors- Skills- Experience- EquipmentPicture:
  10. 10. Roles: FlexibilityMay need to help others withtheir role- Healer disconnect?- Unexpected health hit?- Stunned tank?Dual specializations arepossible- Require practicePicture:
  11. 11. Teams: CreationRole-based- Need specific roles- Not all one roleDiversity brings benefits- Herbalist Hunter can healhimselfGroups  raids- Smaller teams combine tolarge group- Each team structured samePicture:
  12. 12. Picture:
  13. 13. Teams :CommunicationQuickUnambiguousTeamspeak for speedSymbols everyone understandsPicture:
  14. 14. Teams : CollaborationCan only succeed as a teamKnow team:- Skills- Members- ExperiencePairing heal and tankSelf-organizing- List of tasks- What order- Who- How
  15. 15. Teams : ImprovementWhat is hard now may be easy later- Experience- Skills- Armour- New group membersPlay more, win moreRetrospectives- Battle log- Don’t step in the green gooPicture: joystiq.comPicture:
  16. 16. Tasks: GranularityQuests- Information- Requirements to completeQuest sequences- Each quest separate andindividual- Reward after each questPicture:
  17. 17. Tasks : EstimationDrop rateEaseRiskAmount of players neededPhases in fight are timeboxedHow much mana is enoughPicture:
  18. 18. Tasks : Sustainabilityand PaceRefresh after fight- Too many fights withoutrefresh can lead to death /wipe- Repair equipment- Ideal situation is nothaving to recover fromfightPicture:
  19. 19. Tasks : ToolsMacros- Automation for sequences- Can’t automate everything- Intelligence and skill stillrequiredTools- Are often necessary(healbot)- Must be used correctly- Can’t lose focus on fightPicture:
  20. 20. Differences…No automatic level upNo dragons, portals or dungeon finders- Make life (and helping) easierNo reliance on specific role- Damage dealers are less importantthan tanks and healers- Without the tank or healer  dieCan’t give up completely on tasksNo dungeon guidesPicture: wow-nimbert.dePicture:
  21. 21. Who are the WoW testers?• Healers?– “Heal over time”  constant presence– “Your fault” if we have a wipe?• Damage dealers?– Is testing a destructive activity?– Do we cause problems from afar?• Tanks?– Standing at the forefront, taking the hits?• Rogues?– Because we’re sneaky?• Mages?– Because we do magic?
  22. 22. Why does the game work so well?• Tangible, attainable goals• Easy to help and be helped• Instant gratification – it’s fun• Because it’s not the real world– Experience points– Magic armour– Automatic levelling– It’s just a game
  23. 23. Conclusions:What can we learn for our teams?Aim WoW AgileMake helping easier Dungeon findersEasy port in and outOpen door policySame officeRewards for helping andinitiative$ for random dungeon Thank people(also publicly)Social / team incentives?Nurture a common goal Prestige, XP, Items Pride in softwareFoster mutual trust Playing regularly as a team RetrospectivesCreate shared mentalmodelsWorld rules Transparent decisionsReduce frustration Automatic improvementOption to abandon questAttainable goals
  24. 24. Conclusions:What can my “character” learn?• Keep learning– Practise “dual specialization”– Aim for improvement• Gain pleasure from social incentives andrewards• Rely on your team– You can’t kill the boss on your own ;)Picture:
  25. 25. Thank you!Alexandra.Schladebeck@Bredex.dealex_schlwww.bredexsw.comblog.bredex.dePicture:
  26. 26. EuroSTAR Webinar ArchiveAccess almost 50 on-demand software testing webinars by the worlds leadingtesting experts. Topics include….www.eurostarconferences.comAgile, Automation, Test Management, Process Improvements, Risk-based Testing, PerformanceTesting, Test Documentation, Cloud Testing, Session-based Testing, Weekend TestersVisit the archive!
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