How to Become a Game Tester
If your dream job involves playing video games, then you need to read this article on how to become a game tester. The video game industry generates over $50 billion in revenue each year, and companies are more than willing to pay testers to locate glitches and bugs that could hurt the sale of their products. Those starting out earn an average of $25k, and you can be making over $40k within just a few years.
In the following article, we’ll discuss how to become a game tester, the requirements of the profession, plus salary and benefits. We’ll also examine a number of game tester resources designed to help you find jobs within the industry.
What a Game Tester Does
Before we dive into how to become a game tester, it’s important to understand just what the position entails. Each year, hundreds of games hit the shelves for the PC and systems such as the Xbox 360. Success of these products often hinges on overall playability, and releasing a glitch-free product is the ultimate goal. After all, who wants to play a video game that freezes every time you perform a certain action?
That’s where the game tester comes in. They play through the entire game, searching for any bugs or glitches that the programmers might have missed. When they find one, they carefully document it and pass the information along to the game designers. After all major glitches and bugs have been located and repaired, a game is given “gold” status and eventually released to the public. Since finding glitches can mean the difference between making a profit and losing millions, it’s easy to see why companies are happy to employ video game testers.
The lowest rung on the ladder is the game tester, individuals tasked with checking for glitches and assuring overall playability. Above them is the lead tester, who works closely with the game designers and manages a group of game testers. They also compile game footage for submission to a regulatory body such as the PEGI or ESRB. In many cases, the lead tester will eventually move on to become a designer or producer. The top of the game testing pyramid is occupied by the game producer, an individual who sets deadlines for testing, coordinates with the marketing department, and gives approval for a game to be released to the public.
A game tester will usually receive a disc of an unreleased game to try out in their own home, although they may also try products online or at a designated testing center. When a bug is found in a game, it’s the responsibility of the tester to write a thorough report. Not only are they asked to identity the problem, but they must also include details on how to reproduce the glitch. This information is then passed on to the developers of the game. Once the glitch is fixed (or ignored, depending on its severity), the tester may be asked for verification.
Game Systems & Game Companies
When people first investigate how to become a game tester, they’re often overwhelmed by the video game systems and companies available to them. I’m talking PS3, Nintendo Wii, PC games, and the Xbox 360. And as new systems hit the market, they’ll also be added to the list. If it’s being sold in stores, then game testers will have a chance to play it in advance (and get paid for it). Of course, you will need to own the system in order to be able to test the game at home.
And just check out some of the game companies you’ll have a chance to work for:
- 2K Sports
- Infinity Ward
- Lucas Arts
- Multi Media Games
- Sony Entertainment
- Square Enix
As an added bonus, many companies will allow you to keep the games once you’ve finished testing them. In some cases, game testers wind up with a library of hundreds of video games without paying anything.
Game Tester Salary
One of the main subjects asked about by those looking into how to become a game tester is salary. Those with less than three years experience earn an average of $25k per year, while those with more than three years experience can expect to earn an average of $43k. On average, testers earn $39k annually, and lead testers make $71k. While payment differs from company to company, most will pay bi-weekly via direct deposit or check. And the more games you test, the more money you’ll make.
How to Become a Game Tester – Job Requirements
The job requirements for how to become a game tester are surprisingly few. No technical experience is needed, and a high school diploma is about the only education required. A love of video games is a must, and being able to thoroughly fill out reports on glitches is also a big plus. Owning multiple gaming platforms will also increase your odds of getting a job.
Like any other job, you’ll need to send in a resume or CV when the company is hiring. The trickiest part is knowing when the video game companies are looking for people. While these positions are sometimes advertised on job sites like Monster.com, often they are not. This is where making contacts within the industry becomes important. Don’t be afraid to attend trade shows and meet the people behind the scenes. These are often the individuals who can put in a good word for you at a crucial moment during the job hunting process.
Game Tester Resources
While you can spend hours on the Internet learning how to become a game tester, you can also consult a number of helpful resources on the subject. Some of these are free, and some require you to spend some of your hard-earned cash.
Game Tester.com – My highest recommendation goes to this free site dedicated to helping people find jobs within the video game industry. A database of game testing companies is maintained, and the site also highlights game publishers currently hiring or accepting applications.
Gamer Testing Ground – This pay site offers an 8-week money-back guarantee, and it’s loaded with the most recent jobs in the game testing industry. Purchasing a membership gives you access to the site for six months.