Before working at Jagex I had absolutely no QA experience, just a love for a games and a willingness to learn and push myself beyond my current capabilities.
I had a few friends from University who did placements at Jagex who had nothing but good things to say about the company. Needless to say, as soon as I had completed my studies (and done a spot of travelling) Jagex was the first company to receive my C.V and the rest is history.
I've been with the company around a year and a half now, having done around 5 months in Player Support and roughly 13 months in QA. My day to day role within QA involves testing any new and up and coming content that is in preparation to be released for our massively popular MMO, RuneScape. This can be anything from a new high level quest, to an entry level weapon for new players. Amongst all that, there are numerous meetings to discuss lots of important things like project progress and potential issues that may stop us from completing our work.
A typical day in the office for me involves getting into the office for 8 a.m. reading any handover emails which include issues that have been highlighted from the Player Support night shift (more coffee), then from roughly 8:15 / 8:30 a.m. it's time to continue with whatever project I may be working on at that time.
Well it began really with a love of computer games from a young age and the decision to undertake a games degree at University seemed like the next logical step towards the career I always wanted.
As you can imagine competition for places at a UK Top 100 Best Company which is also a games studio is going to be tough, but I think as long as you show that you have a real passion for whatever it is you're applying for, you'll always stand a good chance of shining through and making yourself stand out. For me, I made sure I came across as keen to learn and work really hard at interview, full of passion whilst also backing it up with the knowledge from my degree.
My degree was a BSC in Games Computing from the University of Lincoln. I would say it was an 'ok' course at the time when I was there, but to be honest if I were to have my time again and be able to pick my University course I would undoubtedly go for something more relevant to what it is I wanted to eventually progress into; I.e. Computer Science for a games programming job, or Animation course for animators etc. I suppose the key is to know your niche before selecting your course and you will have far more success in job hunting after your degree has finished because your key skills will be so much more relevant. In answer to the second part of the question, I would say yes. I think QA is a great position, and the chance for progression within QA is really good, but most people who pass through are either looking for ways into Developer or Production positions in one way or another, be it programmers or artists etc.
QA was my original games career choice, and I think QA offers a great platform to step into design or development providing you can show the relevant people you can do a good job in that position. Myself, I'm hoping that I can progress into a content developer role sometime in the future.
It totally depends on the project really. Something like the Clan Citadels project was so insanely huge, that we couldn't possibly have hoped to find all the bugs pre-release with a team of 20 or so testers. But with smaller updates like UI changes for example, we'd really be looking to hit in the high 90's (%) of bugs before the update hits the live game.
Millions of things. To list a few; the relaxed attitude in the office, working on massively popular titles, working with lots of passionate like minded people, the camaraderie in the teams and of course turning out for the might Jagex Football Club every Sunday.
My favourite memory has to be my first company Jolly. We were taken to a water sports activity centre were the whole company were split up into teams to compete at Dragon Boat Racing! It was a great way to meet people from all over the company in friendly (but secretly serious) competition. Specifically though, I'd have to say being really quite rubbish on the Banana boat that they had there, (nothing to do with the free bar) and spending 99% of the time bobbing around the lake unable to get myself onto the boat. Good times.
I see really great things for the company in the future. With the Transformers Universe MMO coming along very well and RuneScape becoming better and better every week, as well as the investment the company are making in some really, really experienced industry experts, I can't see anything but an upward spiral for the company for years to come.
I would 100% say that the most important thing is finding your niche early. If you can pinpoint what you want to do in your career before University, you will be in a far better position when your degree has finished and you're on the hunt for a job. Try to avoid generic games courses, which unfortunately are abundant in Uni's up and down the UK right now. If you want to be a games programmer, do a Computer Science course, if you want to be an Animator, do a dedicated animation course and so on. Doing these kinds of courses will also give you something to fall back on if you do fail to find something in the industry, whereas if you do a generic games course, you will have nothing.