When asking the above question, you will most likely hear from your friends or see from your initial search results online, that a Video Game Tester is someone that is hired to sit and play video games all day, to check for any faults that may exist before it is released to the public, right? The ideal job for any full-time gamer, correct? Well, before committing to any serious pursuit of this particular career path, it is important to know that there are in fact many factors at play here (no pun intended).
Things To Consider
Whilst it is true that there are roles known as ‘Quality Assurance Testers’ (QA) or ‘Play Testers,’ available out there, it is often far from easy to land your dream job with some of the major developers. Especially given the incredibly fierce competition you’re now up against as the industry, in general, continues to grow. Included herein are some of the various factors one should really consider before quitting a regular 9 to 5.
One of the first, most common misconceptions in regard to game testing is that you will be paid to sit and play various games, from start to finish, day in, day out. As a QA Tester, you will often just be given a single block of the game you’re required to test. Dependent on how far along the developers are on the game, you may only be provided with the opening section of said game and required to play that block over and over for 8 hours a day for instance. I’m sure it goes without saying, as, in any role (even the ones we love), repetition of this nature can quickly become just as monotonous as a conventional job. Furthermore, if you are working on a game you would ordinarily look forward to playing on its release, you may lose interest in something you would otherwise love.
Another misconception can be that all game testing is done from the comfort of your own home! Though this can and does happen, it is just as, if not more common, for you to actually have to attend a work environment in order to carry out your days testing, especially early on, and can consist of tasks such as pressing a single button to perform one individual move a hundred times or so, as the consoles themselves can also need checking. I wrote days and not daily here for a reason too, as not every test is guaranteed to become a full-time gig. Some tests are merely day tests, wherein you will attend a test centre of some sort to partake in the test, completing a questionnaire to provide feedback at the end of your day.
Some degree of experience will also be required and can vary depending on whom you’re testing for. Obviously a basic understanding of how to play video games is required, though again, this should really go without saying. It is no good if you don’t have the first idea on how to navigate a game, as you will most likely not even be considered.
What You Will Test For
As a QA Tester, you will be looking for any sort of bug that shows up within the content of the game you have been given to test. Bugs are basically everything you see that would be deemed a glitch or mistake and are most commonly things like:
- Graphical Glitches
- Audio Out Of Sync
- Sounds That Shouldn’t Occur
- Timing Issues
- Length Of Play
- Textual Errors
- Multi-Player Problems
The list could go on and on but will no doubt be apparent should you become a games tester. When a bug is discovered, you will then need to do your very best to try to capture the bug in order to send it to the developers. If you have a video fault, for example, the aim is to capture the hiccup and send it over to your given contact so as it can be rectified before launch.
Testing Opportunities in the UK
Now more than ever there are multiple platforms that will need testers to inspect their products. A lot of the time though, if you manage to land a testing job you will most likely be testing a specific brand at a time: Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo what have you. The rapid rise of online and mobile gaming has also seen an increased demand for testers in recent years, with more frequent advertising being placed on sites such as ‘Indeed.co.uk’ (link below) here in the UK.
Another area that is perhaps less spoken of when considering becoming a games tester, is the opportunities out there for language testers. Language testers will be hired if they can both speak and write in the tongue required by developers. I will leave a link below for UK residents so that you can take a quick look at current language testing opportunities that are available now.
What Can You Earn
The average wage for game testing varies greatly unfortunately, it is not created equally like other potential career moves. Here in the UK it typically tends to go from approximately £8 an hour up to approximately £10 an hour, rising considerably with experience and management skills. Whereas in the US it ranges between approximately $18,000 and $50,000 a year.
Thanks, For Stopping By
I hope this has been informative and helps some of you out there if you have been considering a move into QA Testing. I honestly think if you don’t mind running the risk of turning a hobby or even a passion in regard to gaming into a profession, then it could be an alternative and fun move. It really shouldn’t take much in terms of qualification, unless specified by the developers that are advertising the role and it could be a potential top-up income perhaps if kept on a part-time basis.
Big Love & Love Big,
ADAM J PRICE