How to Become a Game Tester
Updated March 10, 2023
If you enjoy working with electronics, becoming a video game tester may be an attractive career choice. Not only is there a demand for quality game testers due to the popularity of video game consoles, but it's a good way to enter the video game industry. In this article, we will explore what a game tester does and how you might find a job as a game tester.
What does a game tester do?
A game tester, or quality assurance tester, plays video games that are under development to check for errors, also known as glitches or bugs. Game testers normally work for video game companies, often in close connection with programmers and other technical members of the development team. They are expected to test extensively, often repeating game levels multiple times to make sure they have tested every possible permutation of play.
As well as playing games, game testers take note of any gameplay errors they find along with steps on how to recreate those errors. They communicate these problems to the development team so they can correct them.
Average salary of game testers
The average salary for a game tester in the U.S. is $14.13 per hour as of November 2019, with a range of $7.25 to $44.10. Your salary as a game tester will depend a lot on your experience and the company you work for. Where you live can also be a factor in how much you get paid, since regional laws may determine a minimum wage. Some game testing jobs may be in an office where the company provides the materials you need. Other game testing jobs are work-from-home positions where you are expected to provide your own game consoles, television and other equipment. You should consider this when negotiating your salary.
Steps to becoming a game tester
If you're interested in a career as a game tester, here are some steps you can take:
Earn a high school diploma, GED or equivalent.
Play video games.
Get a college degree in video game design or a related field.
Work in quality assurance.
1. Earn a high school diploma, GED or equivalent
You don't need a high school education to be a game tester, however, most game testers are 18 or older, so you should complete high school. Also, you will need basic writing and communication skills, which you can learn in high school or as part of studying for an equivalency.
2. Play video games
Most game testers started as video game enthusiasts. They learn about game dynamics, gameplay and what makes a good game from spending hours playing games. Since the job involves playing video games for long periods of time, often replaying game levels looking for problems, it helps if you enjoy playing video games.
3. Get a college degree in video game design or a related field
While you don't need a college degree to be a game tester, having one can help you find a job. Game testing is a competitive market, so any qualifications you have that might make you an attractive candidate are useful. The most helpful degree subjects are those that give you a better understanding of the technical aspects of game design and programming. These include computer animation, interactive game development and computer science. A degree could also help you advance in your career from testing to game design or development.
4. Work in quality assurance
Video game testing is more than simply playing the game. As part of your job, you are constantly trying to break the game, to find the game's flaws and see how you can exploit them. If you have work experience in quality assurance, you will likely be familiar with this way of thinking.
Frequently asked questions
Do game testers just play video games all day?
Testing games is a rigorous process that involves testing every possible scenario and every possible use of all the items in the game. In games where characters fight against one another, testers adopt a matrix method of testing. This is where they test each character in turn fighting against each of the other characters. They also need to check every weapon, tree, rock and building to make sure they are rendered correctly. Depending on the size of the game, testing like this can take days.
Besides playing the game, testers also have to attend meetings and write reports on each glitch or bug they find. These reports must be written in such a way that the developers can easily find the problems for themselves. Testers also send emails and perform other administrative duties as necessary.
What are the best soft skills for a game tester?
There are a number of useful soft skills you need as a game tester. These include:
Do game testers work normal office hours?
Most of the time, game testers work normal office hours. However, when there is a deadline and a lot of testing yet to be done, it is not unusual for testers to work as many as 80 hours in a week.
What is the employment status of game testers?
Video game companies normally hire testers as contractors. Some of these contract positions may be contract-to-hire and some companies might hire a full-time employee. You should expect, however, to be working as an independent contractor responsible for your own benefits and taxes.
Can game testers work from home?
Game testing is a job that can be done from home, though not all game companies provide that option. More often, you will be working out of an office with other testers. If there are no game companies in your area, you may have to relocate to find a job as a game tester.
What other career options are there for game testers?
Game testing is a good way to start a career in the video game industry. Other careers that may be open to you with your testing experience and in some cases additional education, include:
Now that you know more about what it takes to become a game tester, you can decide if this career path is a good match for you.
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