After all, you get paid to play video games all day long…right? Well, no, not exactly.
The truth is, video game testing is a highly challenging career that requires more than just leisurely thumbing through video games. You may be the best Grand Theft Auto player in your group, but that doesn’t mean you would make a great video game tester.
While this is a highly desirable job with relatively-low educational requirements, most people actually use it as a springboard for a career in the video game industry. In fact, it’s the opportunities, not the pay nor the “play,” that attracts most people to the position.
So, do you love video games enough to give it a shot?
Quick Facts About Becoming a Video Game Tester
What Do Game Testers Do?
Video game testers find the “glitches: or “bugs” in video games so programmers can fix these errors before the games are released to the public. Testers repeat levels multiple times to try all options and report their findings to the development team.
Video Game Tester Salary Potential
The average annual salary for video game testers is $53,030, but those with years of experience in the industry can end up making over $70k a year. However, there are lots of temporary and part time hourly jobs testing video games that pay around $10-15 per hour. Perks of being a tester include being able to see the latest games before they are released, getting a foot in the door for future work, and getting experience that can boost your resume for other work in the gaming industry.
What Skills Do Game Testers Need?
All game testers need experience with playing video games, but there are many other skills required. Testers need above average attention to detail, communication skills, and troubleshooting talents to be able to report and bugs to developers. In addition, the work can be repetitive as you try to find all the possible problems, so a strong work ethic is key.
What Education Do Video Game Testers Need?
While there are no specific educational requirements to become a game tester, there is a lot of competition for these jobs, so at least some education is ideal. Many game testers will have a degree in game design, video graphics, computer programming, or another related field. Those who are enrolled, but have not completed their degree are in a perfect position to get jobs that directly apply to what they are learning.
Where Do Video Game Testers Work?
Some video game testers work in-house at the bigger companies, which are mostly located on the East and West coasts. However, many smaller studios exist all across the country, and may hire contract workers to test games at different times. In addition, some positions allow you to work from home, testing games on your own equipment.
Video Game Testing Jobs
Video games are booming, with at least 75% of Americans reporting that there is a gamer in their household. Opportunities for video game testers often have multiple applicants, so having some education in related fields like game design, computer programming, graphic design, technical writing, quality assurance or communications will help you stand out among the many job applicants.
Steps to Become a Video Game Tester
Decide if a game tester career is right for you;
Compare degree or certificate programs to find the best choice for your career;
Take classes to boost skills or complete your degree in a related field;
Bolster your resume with additional education.
What Do Game Testers Do?
Video game testers are people who work for video game companies with the task of thoroughly testing games to make sure they are free of “bugs,” “glitches,” and other problems. They are also known as “beta testers,” or simply “game testers.” A more professional occupational title is QA Tester, with “QA” standing for Quality Assurance. Whatever the title of the job, the work is all about trying to help developers minimize the problems that users will face once the game is released to the public.
The job of a video game tester is not to actually play the game, but to break the game. They purposefully move through the video game, playing all the levels, going through all the menus, and using all the different characters and options with the goal of uncovering flaws in the system.
A video game tester is expected to take a wide range of actions in the game to identify any bugs or glitches. Essentially, a bug is something wrong with the programming, and there can be a huge variety of them. A bug comes when a player gets trapped in a certain spot, or when a movement graphic doesn’t work properly on a specific character. There are literally millions of possible bugs that could be in the game, but thanks to game testers, most games are released nearly flawless.
One of the main tasks of a video game tester is to use the game in as many possible ways as they can possibly conceive, taking actions that few users will ever make. Testers will try actions and gameplay that developers may not have anticipated to search for programming problems that can be fixed before release. This might sound time-consuming and repetitive, but it’s an essential duty.
The attention to detail is so important for testers because they will need to be able to replicate any bugs they find so the programmers can fix them. Being able to reproduce the exact steps it took to get to the problem spot and write up a report is key.
Game testers may also have to run through matrix testings. Matrix testing is often used in fighting games like Mortal Combat, Tekken, or Soul Calibur. Say a fighting game has 20 different characters and 20 different levels. When doing matrix testing, the video game tester would need to play as each character vs each character (including Character 1 vs Character 1) on all 20 levels. That’s 8,000 different matchups! That’s just one example of the highly-detailed, often monotonous work that video game testers have to do.
Video Game Tester Salary Potential
Your game tester salary will depend on your education, experience level, and skills.
According to the Glassdoor, the average salary for testers is about $55,030 annually. Entry level QA workers, with between zero and one year of experience, earn an average of $42,186 per year. Testers with one to three years of experience average roughly $47,151 a year. The average for workers with four to six years of experience is $53,849, while the average for the most experienced testers is $67,454 per year.
Not all video game tester jobs are salaried positions. Many game companies hire temporary game testers, sometimes through temporary agencies, or even part time video testers. These positions mean that you would be a contract worker rather than a salaried employee with benefits. Some positions offer very low pay, barely above minimum wage, but these jobs can be a way to get some experience to decide if you want to pursue a career in the industry.
Many tester jobs are paid hourly rather than salaried, meaning that you will get paid for any hours over 40 hours you work per week. However, budgets on most games are tight, so companies will often just want you to work extra hard in your regular work hours rather than pay you for overtime. No matter how you are paid, you will be expected to be highly productive during your work hours if you want to keep your job.
Salaried, full time jobs will likely come with benefits like health insurance, but those who work in temp positions or part time will likely need to provide their own health insurance. Because many jobs are contract, working as a video tester while you are studying to complete a degree means you can keep your student benefits while you hone your skills for more permanent work in the video game industry.
Perks of Being a Video Game Tester
First, you get to interact with all the latest video games before anyone else. While you can’t really call it “playing” video games, you do get the chance to use new games that others may not experience for years. If you’re a video game junky, this is probably one of the biggest perks of becoming a game tester.
Secondly, many people use a game tester job as an entry into the industry. While the position is low on the experience level and pay scale, it can lead to higher positions in video game development and design. It is a great way to get some experience and contacts in the video game development world and give you a leg up if you want to go into a higher paying job in video game design or engineering in the future.
Third, it can be a job you do while you get further education to become a higher paid working in the video game industry. Some schools will have distance education for these careers, while others may have evening classes. Or you might work part time as a video game tester to help pay your way through school. The perk there is you are also getting job experience while you get paid in a field you have always dreamed of working in. That’s a win all around.
There are plenty more where this comes from, but I know this one well so I thought I'd share to get you started.
Read this article: 38 Ways to Get Paid to Play Games Online for Free for more ideas, link below!