“Recently I came to know from a friend about career in video game testing and it sounds too good to be true; doing what I enjoy doing most (playing video games) and getting paid for the same sounds awesome. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that someone can actually get to play the latest video games all the time and get paid good salary for… uh… playing games! I think I already have the basic traits to become a good video game tester and I have love and passion for video games. What’s the requirement for video game testers? What are a video game tester’s main responsibilities? Can you please give me some instructions on becoming an expert game tester?” –A Video Game Tester Wannabe If you are also wondering if you should start a career in video game testing industry, this article is for you. The gaming industry itself has come a long way in the past decade and as the modern day games like the latest cutting edge games from EA are evolving and becoming more interactive, feature-rich, faster and complex the need for good gaming tester who can push the limits of these games also has increased.
What is Video Game Testing?
Like any other testing related activities, video game testing has an important role in the video game development. Testing begins while the game is still in development phase (“alpha” or early versions of the game) and when finished, the game testers go a final end-to-end testing to ensure that gamers have a good experience out of it. Like software testers, video game testers perform video game testing to find mistakes, defects, bugs and other issues that could frustrate or turn off the end user (gamers) if not fixed.
Video Game Testing; Not as Easy as It Sounds!
But do not let the word ‘game’ in the job description fool you. Video game testing is a complex job and involves meticulous planning, can be tedious at times and requires an structural, disciplined approach to product testing, which in this case is a ‘video game’. A good game tester is required to have a good pair of eye for detail, out-of-the box critical thinking and the ability to remain focused while on the job.
What are the Qualities of an Excellent Video Game Tester?
Some of the fundamental qualities and skills that video game studios look for in a good game tester are: Computer/Game Skills: Prior experience with games and game play, basic know-how of computer programming and fundamental understanding of computer hardware components. To become successful in this area, hone your video game skills, learn about various genres like puzzle games, FPS (first person shooters), arcades, multiplayer games, online games, mobile games, console games etc. Keeping up-to-date on latest gaming trends will help you in this career. Attention to Details: A good tester needs to be very meticulous and must have excellent attention span. If you get bored of a game after you’ve been testing it for a while, then this job is not for you. To become successful in this area, beta test new video games that you can find. Game studios often release beta versions of their upcoming games to get user feedback and you can use that to hone your testing skills. A Good Bug Hunter: A good tester needs to be able to detect bugs, find reliable ways to make them happen easily, and document the shortest steps so the development team can replicate and fix those bugs. To become successful in this area, use beta release games to find bugs and glitches and write them up in a nice bug report. When you contact the game studio with your report, try to be as detailed as you can and who knows they might give you a job if they think you are good at it! Communication Skills: Both verbal as well as written communication skills are the key here. A game tester needs to constantly communicate with the programming team and fellow testers to inform them about the bugs and other issues that they find. So the ability to document your bugs precisely and concisely in the bug tracking tool, to explain it to the dev. team if the need arises and to inform other testers about it so they are also aware of the existing problems are going to help. Soft Skills: Other soft skills like good attitude, being a team player and getting along with co-workers will be an added advantage. And yes, testing is hard work and can often be tedious and extremely frustrating at times. So keeping a cool head in those circumstances is a big plus.
Word of Caution!
But before you make up your mind and decide to become a video game tester, keep this in mind! These days the field of video game testing has come under serious criticism for being excessively strenuous and lack of much rewards, both financially and emotionally. But if you think you’re passionate about video games and want to make a career out of it, this is probably for you. If you are someone who expects to just play video games all day and get paid then you will be hugely disappointed. But testers who realize that video game testing is a serious job and hone their skills accordingly will be much more successful. Here are top 5 challenges in video game testing career and how to overcome them!