Solving Quantum Physics with Context Driven Testing


There’s a thousand tests performed every day here in our enrichment spheres. I can’t personally oversee everyone of them, so these pre-recorded messages will cover any questions you might have and respond to any incidents that may occur in the course of your science adventure. Your test’s assignment will vary depending on the manner in which you have bent the world to your will. – Cave Johnson (Portal 2)

I’m still off work and getting in some good gaming time on the consoles, mainly Batman – Arkham City (Would Batman make a good tester? – That’s another article) and Skyrim.

Unless I’m mistaken, there’s another game out there in gaming land where you’re not an action hero, superhero,  assassin, spy or even a crack driver escaping from the law.

No Siree – you’re a tester , and that game is Portal 2.

Now, in the game you are in a science facility where you have to go through a series of rooms solving the puzzles in order to escape the facility. All you have is your logic and your portal gun.

What does this have to do with testing you make ask. – Good questions, let’s hope that I can do this justice. *smile*.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of video watching over at and also reading about ‘Context Driven Testing’ by James Bach. I would like to think that the basic premise of the concept is that you use what ever method/tools is best for that project/situation in order to test efficently.

I would like to think that being Chell (The character in Portal 2) likes to use ‘Context Driven Testing’ in order to solve the rooms. This is how I see it

  • Chell – Tester
  • Portal Gun – Automation Tool
  • Puzzle Rooms – Test Objective/Test Case
  • Method of Solving Room – The method that works best in the situation (scripts, exploratory testing, paired testing, etc).

My thinking is that for each puzzle, the solution to passing the room is to systemically go around the room assessing the environment and seeing what the rules are in order to progress.


Context-driven testing is an approach, not a technique. Our task is to do the best testing we can under the circumstances–the more techniques we know, the more options we have available when considering how to cope with a new situation.

This is where the comparison comes in, for each room you have to come up with difference approaches. As you go through the levels, you learn new techniques to use in order to escape and therefore you have more options available to use.

Portal 2 - Chell (Context Driven Tester)
Chell (Context Driven Tester)


The technique that works in one room and enabled you to progress will not necessarily work in the next room. What you do have to do is use the skills learnt in the previous room, learn new techniques and apply them. This applies to testing, just because you used an automation tool in one test scenario might not be required in the next test project that you do, heavy scripting might do the trick or the project after that, pure exploratory testing. It all depends on the conditions.

This is what I get from context driven testing. I will have to do more reading to see if I can apply it to my job. Of course, I would like feedback and discussion because I really want to learn more about this concept.

Until next time.


P.S – What games represent Business Analysts, Developers?

P.P.S  – I figured Project Managers would like the Civilisation or Sims/Sim City type games (you know – being god and micromanaging everything *smile*)


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