What Is a Game Tester? (+ How to Become One)
For those looking to enter the exciting world of video games without extensive experience or specialized education, game testing can be an attractive option. It offers an entry point into an industry that may otherwise seem daunting and allows individuals to leverage their passion for gaming into a rewarding career.
This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to the world of game testing, including insights into what a game tester does, the different types of game testing, how to become a game tester, potential salaries, and where to find these unique job opportunities.
What Is a Game Tester?
A game tester is a professional responsible for playing video games in a systematic manner. Their primary role is to identify bugs, errors, and issues within a game that might hinder the user experience. By thoroughly evaluating various aspects of gameplay, they contribute to the game's overall quality and performance.
Roles and Responsibilities
Game testers play an essential role in the development and perfection of video games. Their responsibilities include:
- Testing Gameplay: Playing the game in various ways to identify bugs, glitches, or inconsistencies.
- Documenting Errors: Accurately reporting issues found, detailing the conditions under which they occurred.
- Providing Feedback: Offering insights on the gameplay experience, including suggestions for improvement.
- Collaborating with Developers: Working closely with game designers and developers to understand testing requirements and goals.
Types of Game Testing
Different aspects of a game require different types of testing, including:
- Quality Assurance (QA) Testing: Ensuring the overall quality of the game, including functionality, performance, and usability.
- Functionality Testing: Checking the game's functions and features to ensure they work as intended.
- Compatibility Testing: Ensuring the game runs smoothly on various platforms and devices.
- Localization Testing: Verifying that the game is culturally appropriate and accurately translated for different regions.
- Beta Testing: Testing the game in real-world conditions, often by selected players, before its official launch.
Becoming a game tester doesn't require a specific educational background, but certain skills are essential:
- Attention to Detail: Ability to notice minor glitches and inconsistencies.
- Understanding of Gaming: Familiarity with different game genres and platforms.
- Communication Skills: Effective in conveying findings to developers and other team members.
- Critical Thinking: Ability to approach gameplay from various angles to identify potential issues.
- Technical Proficiency: Basic knowledge of software, hardware, and possibly scripting languages can be beneficial.
Why Become a Game Tester?
Are you passionate about gaming and curious about turning it into a career? Let's explore what makes this field so enticing.
Entry into the Gaming Industry
Becoming a game tester offers a unique gateway into the gaming industry. It's often considered a stepping stone for those who aspire to roles in game development, design, or production. The hands-on experience gained through testing can provide valuable insights and connections within the industry.
Potential for Growth and Advancement
The field of game testing offers growth opportunities for those who are dedicated and skilled. Starting as a tester, one can advance to higher roles like Lead Tester, QA Manager, or even transition into game development. Continuous learning and professional development can pave the way for a fulfilling career in gaming.
Flexibility (Possibility of Working from Home)
In line with the trend of online jobs, some game testing positions offer the flexibility to work from home. This option can be particularly appealing for those seeking remote opportunities or those who value work-life balance. It caters to a wider audience, including individuals who may not reside near gaming hubs.
Passion for Gaming
For those who love playing video games, transforming this hobby into a profession can be incredibly rewarding. Game testers often find joy in contributing to the creation of games that others will enjoy. It's a chance to turn passion into a paycheck, aligning one's career with personal interests.
How to Become a Game Tester
Breaking into game testing might seem a challenge, but with determination and the right steps, it's an achievable dream.
Here's a guide to getting started.
1. Know the Educational Requirements
While there are no specific educational requirements to become a game tester, having a background in computer science, game development, or a related field can be advantageous. Some employers may also provide on-the-job training for newcomers.
2. Find Game Tester Jobs
Finding the ideal game tester job might seem challenging, but many paths lead to this exciting career. Whether it's online job boards, gaming company websites, or networking events, opportunities abound for those who know where to look.
2.1 Gaming Companies and Studios
- Direct Applications: Many gaming companies post vacancies on their websites. Consider researching and applying directly to studios like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, or Blizzard.
- Internships: Some developers offer internships, which can be a pathway to full-time testing roles.
2.2 Job Boards and Platforms
- General Job Boards: Websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn often list game tester positions.
- Specialized Gaming Job Boards: Platforms dedicated to gaming industry jobs, such as Game Developer, often have more targeted opportunities.
- Online Job Platforms Like Wahojobs: Platforms focusing on online and remote jobs can be great sources for finding testing roles that can be done from home, including game testing.
2.3 Freelance and Contract Work
- Freelance Platforms: Websites like Upwork or Fiverr may have opportunities for freelance game testing.
- Contracting Agencies: Some agencies specialize in providing game testing services and may hire testers on a contractual basis. Examples include Game Tester and PlaytestCloud.
2.4 Community and Networking Events
- Gaming Conventions and Expos: These events can be great for networking and discovering opportunities directly from industry insiders.
- Online Gaming Communities and Forums: Engaging with online communities dedicated to gaming can lead to connections and job leads. Examples include r/gaming by Reddit, ResetEra, and GameFAQs, to name a few.
2.5 Beta Testing and Volunteering
- Open Beta Testing Calls: Some developers seek volunteers for beta testing new games, which can be a foot in the door for paid positions.
- Indie Developer Projects: Small or independent developers may offer unpaid or low-paid opportunities that can provide experience and networking connections.
- Indie Game Platforms: Platforms like itch.io host independent developers who may need volunteer testers. This can be a way to gain experience and network within the industry.
2.6 Universities and Educational Institutions
- Gaming or Technology Departments: Universities with gaming or technology programs may have connections with industry partners or host career fairs with gaming companies.
- Internship Programs: Some educational institutions may facilitate internships with gaming companies, providing real-world experience for students.
3. Gain Experience
Starting with small projects or volunteering for indie developers can be a great way to gain practical experience. Platforms like beta testing communities or open-source game projects offer opportunities to build a portfolio without professional experience.
4. Build a Portfolio
A strong portfolio showcases your testing abilities and your keen eye for detail. Include examples of games you've tested, bug reports, and feedback you've provided. Even personal game projects or collaboration with amateur developers can be highlighted.
Tips for Applying and Acing Interviews
- Customize Your Resume: Highlight relevant skills, experiences, and personal gaming interests that align with the specific position.
- Prepare for Interviews: Familiarize yourself with common interview questions, such as describing how you would test a particular game scenario. Provide specific examples from your experience.
- Show Enthusiasm and Professionalism: Emphasize your passion for gaming, but also demonstrate your understanding of the professional responsibilities of game testing.
- Consider Certifications (Optional): Although not required, certifications in software testing or related areas can make you stand out among other candidates.
Salary and Compensation
Game testing offers various compensation structures, reflecting the diversity and flexibility of the field. Understanding these details helps in making informed decisions and setting realistic expectations.
Forms of Remuneration
Game testers can be compensated in various ways, including:
- Hourly Rate: Many entry-level or temporary positions pay testers by the hour, with rates ranging from $10 to $25 per hour.
- Per Bug Found: Some companies offer additional incentives for each bug or error found, encouraging detailed exploration.
- Per Minutes of Playtest: A unique payment structure where testers are compensated for the actual minutes they spend playtesting a game.
- Annual Salary: Full-time positions often come with a fixed annual salary, based on experience and role complexity.
- Project-Based: Short-term or freelance roles might offer payment based on the completion of a specific project or game.
Average Salary Range
- Entry-Level: Around $20,000 to $30,000 annually or equivalent hourly/project rates.
- Experienced Testers: Upwards of $50,000, with potential bonuses for exceptional performance.
Factors Affecting Pay
- Experience: More experience often leads to higher pay.
- Location: Regional cost of living can impact salary.
- Company: Different companies may have varied pay structures.
- Specialization: Expertise in specific testing areas may command higher compensation.
Challenges and Common Misconceptions
Game testing is not without its challenges and misconceptions. An understanding of the workload, potential for monotony, and the real difference between playing and testing games can offer a realistic and clear view of this profession.
Workload and Expectations
- High Demands: Game testing is not just playing games for fun. It often requires meticulous attention to detail, repetitive tasks, and strict deadlines.
- Long Hours: Especially during crunch times or before a major release, testers may be expected to work extended hours.
- Performance Pressure: Finding and reporting bugs efficiently is key, and there might be pressure to meet certain performance targets.
- Repetitive Testing: Testers may have to play the same section of a game repeatedly to identify hidden bugs, which can become monotonous.
- Limited Game Choice: Unlike recreational gaming, testers often don’t get to choose the games they test. They might work on a game that doesn't align with personal interests.
- Routine Reporting: Writing detailed reports on bugs and issues is a routine part of the job, which may not appeal to everyone.
The Difference between Playing and Testing Games
- Not Leisurely Play: Testing is about systematically exploring the game to find faults, not merely enjoying the gameplay. This can be time-consuming and tedious.
- Focus on Details: Unlike playing for pleasure, testing demands a critical eye for minor details, glitches, or inconsistencies that regular players might overlook.
- Emphasis on Communication: A significant part of game testing is effective communication. Testers must accurately describe issues, provide feedback, and collaborate with developers, contrasting the solitary experience of playing a game for fun.
Tips for Success in Game Testing
Success in game testing is built on continual learning, forging industry connections, and keeping pace with gaming trends and technologies. Embrace these strategies to not only enter the field but to thrive and grow in this dynamic career.
Continuing Education and Skill Development
- Pursue Courses: Taking online courses in game design, development, or software testing can sharpen your skills and enhance your resume.
- Hands-on Practice: Regularly engaging in testing, even with personal or indie projects, can help you stay sharp and gain practical experience.
- Seek Feedback: Collaborate with experienced testers and seek their feedback on your work to continuously learn and improve.
Building Relationships within the Industry
- Network Actively: Attend industry events, join gaming communities, and actively engage with professionals to build lasting relationships. Some important events include the PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) in the US and Australia, Gamescon in Germany, and the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) in Japan.
- Collaborate: Working on team projects, even on a voluntary basis, can foster connections and teamwork skills.
- Find a Mentor: If possible, seek guidance from a seasoned game tester or developer to gain insights and personalized advice.
Staying Current with Gaming Trends and Technologies
- Follow Industry News: Stay updated with the latest trends, technologies, and news within the gaming industry. Notable websites for gaming news include Kotaku, Polygon, and GameSpot, to name a few.
- Play and Analyze: Regularly play different genres of games, analyzing them from a tester's perspective to understand current standards and practices.
- Join Forums and Groups: Engage in online forums, social media groups, and other platforms where industry trends and new technologies are discussed.
Game testing offers an exciting and dynamic career path for those passionate about the gaming industry. While it does come with its unique set of challenges and misconceptions, the opportunity to be involved in the creation of video games is thrilling and rewarding.
If this career path resonates with you, why wait? At Wahojobs, we are committed to helping you find the right opportunities to start your journey in game testing. Browse through our curated listings of remote testing jobs, and take the first step toward turning your passion into a profession.