How to Become a Video Game Tester [20 Minutes Guide]

Learn How to Become a Video Game Tester and Make Money Testing Games

Video Game Tester

The Gaming Industry keeps booming in 2016 and this entertaining business has already topped 630 million dollars (just in the US). As you probably guessed, it is very likely to have a piece of this huge pie for everyone. Literally for everyone – for the game developers, publishers, marketing guys and the game testers, of course. Isn’t it awesome, to make money by playing video games? But a few fair questions arise:

  • 1. How much money can I make by testing games?
  • 2. How to start a career of a game tester?
  • 3. Can I test video games online (remotely)?
  • 4. What knowledge and tools do I need to test video games?

Long story short. Yes, you can make money by testing games and the sums are quite exciting. No, it is not as easy as it looks for the first time. Of course, you should have at least some basic understanding and a huge will to practice in a position of a game tester. Summing things up, we can go into details with the following facts:

Fact 1: An average game tester salary on Indeed equals $22.000 per year in 2016. [tweet]

Fact 2: The size of a gaming company does matter, and in practice, we can observe a tendency that bigger companies operate bigger budgets. It also implies for the QA department. [tweet]

Fact 3: According to GlassDoor.com, Big Fish Games pays testers up to $16/hour. [tweet]

Whatever facts and figures we can provide you, these facts will not deny the simple truth that a Video Game Tester position is probably the most suitable way to jump into the gaming industry for non-technical employers. If you love games and see yourself in the gaming development, then QA could be your right choice.

On the other hand, there is also the dark side of the Gaming QA position. There are 4 sorrows of a Game Tester Guy.

  • In most cases, you will face low hourly rates, especially in the very beginning of your work experience.
  • One day you might get stuck in a strange kind of depression when games stop entertaining you at all. This will happen due to the work hours and the dozens of reports wou will have to file.
  • Being a Video Game Tester doesn’t mean just playing games in a normal sense as we know it and use to do it.
  • The Game Developer companies always can get the test audience for free by addressing to the Internet communities.

So, now it is high time to state the usual yet maybe a bit frustraiting statement: IT IS NOT AS SIMPLE AS IT LOOKS. But of course the main character in this auditorium is YOU and it is your own desires and goals that matter. If you really feel that this is your path in money making and making yourself happy, then welcome to the Video Game Tester Guide. Read the following 6 simple milestones and learn how to be hired for this job.

How to Become a Video Game Tester

Six steps To Become a Game Tester

1. Create a resume and make it stand out. Your resume is going to end up in a pile of resumes that the recruiter has to sort and narrow out quickly in order to fill the required positions. They are not going to spend a lot of time looking at your resume, so you have to have something that says, “I am a game tester and I can do this job” – Education, experience or something. Experience and data of past performance catch the eye of any recruiter the most.

2. Google “game testing jobs” to find companies looking to hire game testers for the latest games. You now have the contact information you need to apply for the position. There are free websites with free game tester job postings out there.

3. When you apply for game testing positions, make sure to present yourself in a professional manner. At the same time, don’t be afraid to brag about how many games and consoles you own and how many hours a day you spend gaming. Experience counts!

4. Take your job hunt seriously. Chances are you’ll eventually get your first assignment. Switch off your phone, don’t be nervous. Make sure to show up on time and listen to any instructions carefully. Be certain you know exactly what kind of information and feedback the company is expecting from you. Keep this in mind as you play the game they provide you with.
If you find you are not getting any response, you must understand that there are a lot of people applying for these positions. You will have to enhance your education or gain some real world experience to increase your chances of getting a call back.

5. Do your job as well as possible. This may not seem like part of becoming a video game tester, but if you want to continue applying for a similar position with future companies and contracts, doing it well counts. Keep notes as you go along and write clearly. Don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar. Most importantly, make sure you get the data back to the company on time! Even though you’re having fun, don’t forget to stay on the track.

6. Be proactive in looking for the next position. After completing your first assignment, you might be so excited in receiving that first paycheck that you will spend all your time gloating about it. Don’t! Keep up the process of submitting resumes. You will build up an impressive resume of testing game assignments that will help you get even more and better paying ones in the future. Plus, you will get the much needed experience.

Reddit talks Game Testing

You can also find a lot of helpful thoughts and revelations on the Internet. Just like this Reddit post from a game tester who reveals and explains the work and its pros and cons.

Reddit Video Games

So, let us analyze this awesome insight from the insider and conclude how it really is to be a Video Game Tester.

How does the employment work for QA

QA are often employed by staff agencies working with a publisher and as a result most QA work is temporary, lasting anywhere between a few months to a few years depending on both the need for testers and the quality of the tester. No more no less, this depends also on the longevity of the game project itself. Some testers perform so well that they are hired by the publisher/developer directly and are brought into the team permanently.

Honest thoughts on the Game Tester Salary

Testers pay isn’t anything special, the average starting at $10/hr which, depending on your performance, can go higher. The most I’ve ever been paid was $12.50/hr and it was after 2 raises. This means that Testers get paid well during overtime, but at the cost of having hardly any time to themselves.

Tester pay isn’t anything special, the average starting pay is $10/hr which depending on your performance can go higher. The most I’ve ever been paid was $12.50/hr and this was after 2 raises

How does a Game Tester’s day look like

So let’s talk about what it is like doing the job itself. Let’s pretend that I’m a tester and I’m working on Rayman Origins for 360 and in the very first stage I come across a checkpoint that isn’t functioning properly. Specifically, when I die I don’t respawn at that checkpoint for some reason. First of all, I need to make sure it happens again and most importantly, I need to make it happen again. So I’ll spend some time playing with the checkpoint, figuring out what causes the bug, and once I have a basic idea of how the bug works it’s always wise to ask your fellow teammates if they’ve experienced the same bug. And if they don’t know anything about it, it is always recommended to check our bug database to make sure somebody else didn’t write it up, so you don’t waste any time analyzing the issue any further. However, if you have something new to add to the bug database, such as information or alternate steps or maybe the bug happens with more than just the specified checkpoint, then you can add that information to the existing bug.

How Actually a Bug Report look like

Most bug databases will have a template that you can use to just fill in the blanks and select the appropriate variables from the drop downs, it’s always important to specify where it was found, what was found, on which platform it was spotted, if any, etc. This is what it may look like:
Video Game Tester Bugs

The Dark Side of Being a Video Game Tester

It sounds pretty monotonous and it mostly is, but after a while you stop feeling like you’re “playing games for a living” and it begins to feel more like work. Testers are often given an assignment, either for that day or for the entire week. Some assignments vary from testing the menus to only testing a certain set of levels or only using certain characters. Other times a tester who is particularly good at the game may be assigned to beat the game as quickly as possible. When we receive a new build we always need to make sure that the game can be finished both regularly and with 100% completion. I worked on a game called Wolfenstein for the PS3/360/PC and one of my duties was to complete the game on the hardest difficulty as quickly as possible. So I would sit there and power my way through the game every time we got a new build, just to make sure the devs didn’t break the game with their most recent fixes.

Pros of being a Video Game Tester

I’ve never felt more at-home while at work. Testers are usually a bunch of guys and girls who play and love games just like the rest of us. The ages vary but most of the time you’ll be in a room with a bunch of twenty somethings and thirty somethings and the discussions and the banter that goes on between testers is oftentimes hilarious and/or informative. I’ve made many friends working at this job because we all have so much in common. If it weren’t for the people, I wouldn’t have been able to put up with the work.
Many developers are often a pleasure to work with as well. Most notably for me these were the guys at Firaxis and Insomniac Games. They have such a great sense of humor and it was an absolute joy to work with them.

In conclusion

Some people say that a Game Tester is a real dream job, however there are many others who disagree and state that this position will not bring you neither money nor pleasure. Who is right and who is wrong and who should you listen to? Nah, it does not matter. It’s all up to you as everything in this life and there is actually the only right choice. One that makes you happy. If you are not sure what to choose and wether a game is actually woth it, then you probably should try this industry on the very basic level. Just pick a game, play it and write down what is wrong with it. Then, post it somewhere on game development forums and communities. Just give it a try and see what happens. What is more important, get a feel for yourself, have you liked it? if yes, then welcome to the Video Game Tester community!