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How to Become a Video Game Tester

Love playing video games? Then there’s no job cooler than a video game tester! These guys and girls get to test out video games all day, every day – and get paid to do it! Check out our interview with Brad at PowerUp Games to find out more!

KW: What does a video game tester do?

  • A video game tester plays games, looking for issues that would be found by the game player. Sometimes it is simple: the weapon doesn’t work, the AI is too hard or too stupid, you can shoot through buildings, etc. Other times it has to do with design: I get lost in this game, it needs a radar/map feature, etc.  Or, it might be hardware related: this works on my iPhone but not on my Android. Basically, you have to pay attention to what is happening, analyze it and provide good, relevant feedback about it. Anyone can just play a game; game testers play the game with an eye on breaking it and, once they break it, they see how small of pieces it breaks into.

KW: How do you become a video game tester?

  • Easy: find a game-testing job and apply. There are game-testing job boards on the Internet that don’t cost anything to see where the jobs are.

KW: What skills do you need to have?

  • Diplomacy, communication, observation, persistence – plus, you need to have at least average game-playing ability.

KW: What type of personality suits this kind of job best?

  • There is a wide variety of assignments in game testing. The person who is analytical can do the map checking; the person who is hyper can play the game through as fast as possible; the person who likes video games can look for usability issues. The biggest disqualifier is not being excited about helping make great games. That means you have a problem playing a level through several times just to come up with one suggestion on how to improve it.

KW: Do you have to love playing video games?

  • You have to like video games.  Some people who are total fanatics about video games have a hard time playing the game to find issues to improve it. They want to beat the game or pursue some other challenge with it.

KW: What are the job perks?

  • Sometimes you get a lot of overtime. You work killer hours for four to five months, getting great paychecks and not have any time to spend it so when it slowed down or you were off for a couple weeks until the next project, you had money and time to go enjoy life. Plus, usually, food is brought in for working extended hours (10+) in a day. Seeing the video game expos is fun, too.

KW: What are some of the challenges?

  • Boredom, if you are testing a game you don’t normally play or enjoy for several hours a day, several days a week for a couple months. Pushing yourself to find new issues is a challenge. But I bet working fast food gets boring, too, and greeting unpleasant customers over and over again also has the same challenge. If work is going to be challenging, I would rather be doing something at least a little more fun while facing the challenge.
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