Should I Become a Video Game Tester?
|Degree Level||Associate or bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field(s)||Software development, computer programming, computer science, or another technical field|
|License/Certification||Voluntary certification available|
|Experience||2+ years in video game development, testing or software troubleshooting|
|Key Skills||Familiarity with games and gameplay; knowledge of computer programming, hardware, and operating systems; strong communication and writing skills; strong self-motivation and attention to detail|
|Mean Annual Salary (2015)||$84,360 (for computer programmers)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Video game or product testers may also be known as quality control inspectors. These professionals verify that products meet certain standards, and testers try out products to determine if there are any flaws. For example, video game testers play games specifically to look for problems, such as program glitches, broken applications or non-functioning visual effects.
Testers have to verify that every aspect of a game works according to specified plans, which can involve playing the same section of a game numerous times. Testers also have to write reports about the gameplay problems or programming bugs so that game developers can fix these issues before the game goes on the market.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for computer programmers in 2015 was $84,360.
The education requirements for a video tester vary. Typically employers require or prefer a degree in software development, computer programming, computer science, or another technical field. While certification in quality control or other technical fields is voluntary, it is recommended.
The required experience also varies, but usually you can expect to need a minimum of two years of related experience with video games, computer software and program troubleshooting. The key skills employers look for include:
- Familiarity with games and gameplay
- Strong communication skills
- Good writing skills
- Eye for detail
- Knowledge of computer programming
- Understanding of computer hardware components
- Ability to use video game console controllers
- Understanding of video game operating systems
Steps to Becoming a Video Game Tester
The following are the three steps to take to become a video game tester.
Step 1: Hone Video Game Skills
Employers typically want applicants who have a thorough knowledge and love for video games. To prepare for testing video games, you may want to gain experience with using different platforms and with different video game genres such as such as puzzle games, first-person shooters, multiplayer games, role-playing games, and online games. Each video game genre has a different feel, and video game testers need to know this information to verify that each game they test fits the genre specifications.
Make sure to keep up-to-date on video game trends. For example, by reading industry magazines or blogs, you can find out when new games will be released and which games are preferred by certain demographics. Trade magazines and blog sites may also offer insider information about game developer companies, which may prove to be useful knowledge when you try to find open video game tester positions.
Step 2: Get Technical Training
Although requirements vary, you may need or benefit from technical training or an undergraduate degree in a technical field. Potential degree programs may include computer science, software development, or graphic design. Sometimes employers want video game testers with backgrounds in technology because they need employees who can do more than just test games. For instance, they may need workers to perform programming tasks or provide customer support. Other employers prefer testers who are tech-savvy because they want testers who can communicate problems to game developers and point out specific technical issues.
Try to get involved with beta testing new games. Experience in open beta testing will give an indication of what testing work requires and can build up a résumé. Software companies often release open beta games to the public to get feedback and find glitches, usually providing guidelines on how to test them. Testing such games can expose you to identifying and isolating bugs, paying attention to small details, and writing reports.
Step 3: Gain Experience
Video game testing is a quality assurance job that involves identifying problems and resolving glitches before public release. As you gain experience you'll learn more sophisticated quality assurance techniques. Larger companies usually require years of experience in the gaming industry for jobs that test more popular games.
Consider voluntary professional certification. Organizations like the American Society for Quality (ASQ) offer certification related to this field. You may also consider earning certification in more technical areas, such as a programming language. If you have programmer training you can become certified by passing written exams, although some exams may include practical skills tests as well as written questions. You also must maintain your certifications in accordance with the organization's guidelines.