The Sweet Life of Being a Video Game Tester. . .or Is It?
Almost anyone that has toggled a joystick for hours on end has dreamed that maybe they could get paid for playing video games and testing them. What a tasty life that would be, to make money doing what you will do for free. One would imagine gamers ruminating on the following questions:
What could it take to make a living playing on games all day long?
What are the qualifications?
How much money do game testers actually make?
Is this work plentiful?
What do video game testers actually do besides judge how epic a game is?
What video game companies are hiring for video game testers?
Who do I have to kill to get a job like that?
The Professional Job Title of Being a Game Tester
If you are serious in your ambition to become a game tester then you should know the proper job title before you venture out looking to be hired at your dream job. Game testers are called Quality Assurance Testers, Quality Control Inspectors or QA Testers. Anyone who does a Google search for ‘video game testers’ will get few worthwhile links to credible sites and most likely be lead nowhere in their quest to begin a career as a Quality Assurance Tester of applications and software.
Generally QA Inspectors are entry level positions at software and gaming companies. It is highly suggested in your job search that you go directly to the company and make any contacts possible, persistence is key if you’re starting out cold. Know something about the profession; know that you will not be spending hours sitting on a sofa with a joystick in your lap and a can of coke at arms length. You’ll spend hours playing through a single game; a game that you may not like; until the conclusion of its production. Many times at the conclusion of a game’s production the QA tester is laid off.
Am I Qualified for this Awesome Job?
The general qualifications of QA Testers:
• Education Level — This is variable from company to company but generally an undergrad college degree is preferable. If you’re in school and want to aim your schooling at QA Inspection then focus on- software development, computer programming or computer science.
• Certifications — Independent certification in Quality Control or another technical field would be beneficial.
• Experience — Usually a minimum of two years experience in video games, computer software and program trouble-shooting.
• Major Skills Required — The requisite knowledge of games and gaming platforms, strong communication ability, self motivation, good writer and a keen eye for detail.
• Computer Skills — Computer programming knowledge is preferable along with an understanding and or experience with computer hardware components.
• Technical Skills — Excellence at using game controller consoles with an understanding of video gaming operating systems.
What Companies are Hiring Quality Assurance Testers?
A Quality Assurance Tester job openings; aka, video game tester job openings are out there and at times plentiful. More than likely you’ll be hired as a contractor by a consulting company rather than a direct hire by someone like Microsoft. However there are a large number of game publishers that directly hire testers, especially the newer firms that produce games for mobile devices.
Remember, game testing is an entry level position and the starting pay can be frugal. Most publishers are looking for people who will want to advance into development and even marketing.
Does Activision Have Tester Openings
Activision does directly hire some QA testers, but they seem to be moving more to contracting out that work in the last few years. A search returned nothing more recent than 2010 for Activision seeking QA personnel for their gaming.
What Are EA Tester Opportunities?
This past September Electronic Arts (EA) moved its main testing center to the campus of Louisiana State University. It is speculated that EA is looking to collaborate with the university’s computer science department. EA is employing LSU students as testers presently and they may be looking to grow into other areas of the mobile media in partnership with LSU.
Can You Tell Me About Microsoft xBox Game Tester Job Openings?
Microsoft does hire QA testers for it’s in development gaming. The information about Microsoft’s xBox game testing was pretty dated (2002) but from that I surmised that Microsoft recruits testers for days long assignments, not long term employment at the company.
Can I Test Games At Home?
Firstly be wary of jumping on ‘work from home testing games’ scams, they are plentiful out there. That being said; there are genuine opportunities to work from home testing some in development video games. Most likely you’ll have the opportunity to work from home after working at a company for long enough to gain some trust. Of course the requirements are having the proper, latest technical equipment at home. Good writing skills are a must because you’ll be making and emailing reports of your findings and recommendations to programmers at the company.
Seriously…How Much Money Can I make Testing Video Games?
Generally testers can earn from $10 to $100/hr for their testing. Before you leap out of your seat, the upper scale of the pay is reserved for experienced, uber talented testers who also are heavily involved in the development of the games. The general entry level tester is most likely to earn about $10/hr. for the lifespan of the development process, which is usually about two years. Most times testers are not called for until late in the development phase in the last 6 months to a year.
Okay…I Still Want To Test Games…How Do I Get Experience?
Game QA testing is a job that identifies glitches in programming and game flow, a good tester should be able to offer some input to resolve the bugs he or she finds. A tester who has experience learns more sophisticated QA factors and becomes more desirable to companies.
Someone new to the field of QA testing would be well served to seek some certifications to get enough attention to be hired. The American Society for Quality (ASQ) offers quality control certification related to the game testing profession. Someone seeking entry into this line of work would be well served to obtain some technical certifications also, especially a programming certification.
Get experience by beta testing games. Take advantage of as many beta testing opportunities can you. On a QA tester’s resume, participation in beta tests count as some experience. Software firms many times release games in beta stage to the public for feedback and bug detection. Most times the companies will provide guidelines for finding game bugs and glitches which also gives you experience in the testing procedure.
Another way to gain experience and attention of a gaming company is to look for glitches or logical improbabilities in the games you’re already playing. Log them and contact the game maker with your findings. Employers will like your proactive nature and will note your ability to pay attention to detail and record-communicate your findings.
So if you’re prepared to start out making near minimum wage, working in 3-6 month intervals, working at a job that seems like watching the same 30 second clip of a movie over and over again searching for an out of place pixel or something like that. Then you were born to be a QA Inspector for video games, and it is time to start your video game tester career.