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We all know that video games are quite popular, especially with teenagers, who just love to play video games most of the time. The industry itself is quite big and popular, as you can see from the number of games and apps that are available for computers & smartphones.
There are many who are employed in this industry, and are actually doing quite well for themselves.
However, game testing can also be a hard field to get into. Short of getting a college degree in game development, you should focus heavily on finding the skills needed to build your portfolio as a tester before applying for an actual position.
Most Common Myths About Game Testing
There are many who think that video game testers don’t even exist, leave aside the fact whether it offers a career or not.
Most people have a hard time believing that jobs in this industry can be long term and secure. Though nothing is secure nowadays, many refuse to believe that there are sufficient jobs in the gaming industry.
Here are some common myths that surrounds this popular pastime.
Myth: Video Game Testers Don’t Exist
The truth is that there are several jobs in the video game testing area. Large and small video game production and development companies hire people to test their games to remove bugs, sort out kinks, to test prototypes before their product is released in the market.
Myth: Game Testing Jobs are Honorary Positions
Many believe that game testers don’t get paid, and do so just because of their love for playing video games.
The fact however is that these jobs provide adequate compensation, depending on the experience.
Most are paid on an hourly basis, while some get paid per assignment. However, all of them do get compensated for their time, effort & skills.
You Need Degrees to Get a Job
Not really! You can get work even without any formal education, as long as you understand the dynamics and intricacies of most popular gaming platforms. Most gaming companies look for a good attitude, experience on popular gaming platforms, passion for game play, and ability to provide feedback.
The bigger companies may ask for formal qualifications, but it shouldn’t deter you from applying (if you don’t have formal qualification and still have passion for video games).
You Need Close Contacts / References in the Industry
Well, this could be said of any other industry. Having contacts does help you reach the right people, though its not a requirement.
Most of these jobs are up for grabs for anybody, provided you have the right skill-set for the job.
Some companies may offer you work-from-home opportunity, whereas some may insist you to travel to work.
Requires Technical Know How & Work
A video game testing assignment does involves some technical know-how, and the basic aim is to find glitches at various levels of game production.
To be able to perform the job well, its best to have experience in playing games; you may have testing & quality assurance experience on other software projects but for you be able to perform the job well, its important to have hands on experience.
Video game manufacturers do have people who work on the ‘quality assurance’ part of the project, however for certain projects, it just makes more economical sense to hire freelancing testers rather than hire full-time video game testers.
Those who manage to find long-term assignment in this work can expect a decent pay, ($45,000 per year is reasonable), though most video game testing jobs are paid by the hour. In that case, you could be paid around $30-$150 per hour depending on the project and your skills. In fact, if you are able to find bugs, you could be paid more benefits, in addition to the amount that was agreed.
What it Takes
You won’t land any video game tester jobs if you just sit around and wait for a “Game Testers Wanted” ad to appear in the paper. It won’t happen. So instead of sitting back and waiting for a miracle to occur, just get out there and find the perfect video game testing job for you.
Becoming a game tester is probably a little more than you would expect. There are three things you must have before pursuing a game tester job.
1. A Sincere Love of Playing Video Games!
I mean you love to play all the time and almost never get tired of playing. if you could be fed through a tube you would play forever. If you’re a casual player then this might not be for you.
2. You Are Really Good!
You have to also be really good at video games. These companies don’t have a lot of time waiting for you to learn the game. If you don’t have skills, how can you test a new game for release?
3. Must be 16 Years of Age.
This is a qualification that meets child labor laws and is the minimum age that can be employed for this type of work. If youre just a bit younger then you can always start getting ready by working on your skills and staying up to date with the new games and trends.
If you have these three things then you have the foundation to be a game tester. The next step is creating a gamer profile and getting it out to the appropriate companies for review.
You can do this yourself, or you can sign up with one of the game tester clubs that are legitimate and they will help do most of the ground work for you.
How to Find Game Testing Jobs
Most take short classes at their community college or read a book on the subject, and once they get excited (most of them do), they try to figure out how to find jobs or make a career in this line of work.
The most obvious place is to checkout the websites of popular game-makers such as Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo, Sony, Code Masters and others. You might be just lucky to find that opportunity that you’re eagerly waiting for. You should also approach other video game companies and let them know of your capabilities and how you could help.
You should start by signing up for all and any open betas you can find. Games like World of Warcraft have closed betas every 1-2 years when expansions are released while new MMOs (Massively multiplayer online) often have closed and open betas lasting for months to prepare the game for release.
Don’t just work on these games, however. Make sure you are providing high quality input that goes above and beyond what is expected. Game testers need to provide details about where a bug appears and how it is created, so as a tester your job will be to analyse those bugs and develop a clear understanding of how it can be reproduced.
While MMOs are a frequent way to get into game testing, they often employ thousands, making it hard to stand out as a good tester. So, if you really want to drive home how good of a tester you are, you need to get into the closed betas for disc-based games. These are very rare and almost never advertised, but will allow you to show off how effectively you can test for errors.
Look for Them
Head straight to the game companies and developers and apply for testing jobs. Since they aren’t looking for you, the only logical step is to actively search for them. Once you find them (which shouldn’t take too long), apply for a game tester position with them and then repeat the process for as many different companies as humanly possible.
On your application/resume, brag about all of your video game achievements, such as the consoles you own, the games you’ve played, the games you own, the MMORPGs you are apart of, and anything else that shows how much experience you have with video games. And if you want to help your cause even further, create a website/blog that talks about video games, gives reviews, previews, cheats, hints, tips, etc.
You have to remember that experience and professionalism count for a lot in this industry. Therefore, the more experience you have and the more professional you are, the better your chances are for getting a video game tester job.
Get a Reality Check
You have to realize that video game testing is a job. Yes, it’s a really fun job, but it is still a job nonetheless. This means that you have to treat it as such and take every part of it seriously. Don’t merely sit down and play the game to have a good time. Sit down and play the game so that you can collect a paycheck when you’re through.
Many “wanna-be” testers believe that being a professional video game tester is a “no work, all play” type of career. Honestly, they couldn’t be more wrong. Although there aren’t huge amounts of work that a game tester must wade through, there are still a few things that he/she has to complete. For instance, filling out reports. Surprised? Well, most aspiring young testers are when they hear that there is actual work involved with video game testing.
A retail machine used to test a beta game disc can be harmed by repeated bugs and crashes. Additionally, you’ll probably be playing a pre-release version of the game with a lot of bugs. If you actually want to enjoy the game later, this can make it a lot less entertaining on the whole.
Another thing is that most of these jobs, especially at the entry levels, may not be high-paying nor fun, as you may have been led to believe. However, with more experience under your belt, the pay and benefits (and the excitement) will surely come.
Contrary to what you may have thought, you won’t be simply playing games and giving your opinion on whether they are good or not. You will actually be testing them. You will play through a game, find any bugs or glitches, and then fill out reports on any problems that you come across. This is to help the developers and programmers locate and fix those problems. You don’t have to be an English professor or a college graduate to write bug reports, but you will have to have basic writing skills. Aside from the reports, you will also be required to fill out numerous questionnaires; which are typically opinion based.
Career Paths in Gaming After Testing
Now lets take a look at the various career paths (in gaming), that you can get into, after gaining valuable experience in Game Testing.
There are many who want to work in the gaming industry, but don’t have the relevant experience. For most, working as a ‘game tester’ is a great opportunity to get work in the gaming industry.
But there are other jobs within the same industry that pay more or give you the opportunity to accomplish bigger things.
Here are some of the career paths that you may choose, after gaining experience in testing. The good thing is that getting these jobs becomes easier after a successful stint in game testing.
The Various Careers
There are dozens of different opportunities in game testing. And its equally fine if you want to a game tester for life, if that’s your wish. There are many who are satisfied building expertise and working toward becoming a lead tester for bigger projects.
But, if you want to be more directly involved with the game’s production, there are other roles you can strive for:
Programmers are the back bone of any game production. There need to be people who can hard code the different pieces of a game as it goes together. You will either need a college degree in computer sciences or previous experience that demonstrates your ability to completely understand the necessary programming languages for the job.
Design is dedicated to the production of visual elements in a game. If you want to be a designer, you will need experience with key 3D animation software and advanced hardware tools. There are college programs in digital production and animation, or you can practice on your own to develop a working portfolio.
Systems involves the development of systems, game balance, and online play for a game. It might also include scripting and writing for a game’s story and dialogue, though these roles are less frequently promoted from within a testing staff.
If you are truly ambitious you can work your way up to the production staff. Producers are in charge of managing the rest of the development staff, overseeing deadlines and budget concerns, and ensuring the game as a whole is on a good track.
There are many who want to get into game development & production but don’t have the experience initially, and that is why some of them decide to become a game tester, which helps them gain that initial experience. But then gaming is a diverse field with dozens of potential career roles, some of them more lucrative than the other, and with a solid experience in game testing, you definitely stand a good chance of getting those jobs/roles.
Video game testers get hired worldwide almost every day, as the demand for complex, interesting & interactive video games is only going up. You can ignore the debunked myths that surround most of these coveted positions, and don’t let it stop you from pursuing your dreams of becoming a video game tester, which could also lead to bigger roles within the gaming industry in the future.
However, its also going to be lot of work; as soon as you accept the fact that you’ll be doing actual work as a video game tester, you will have much more success finding game testing jobs.