Becoming a Game Tester
When people think of a gaming job, Game Tester sounds like the holy grail. Who doesn't want to get paid to play games all day? Good
What does a game tester do?
A game tester's job is to find as many bugs as possible. Their work is often overlooked, but it is essential to the quality of the final product, hence its most commonly used name in the industry, Quality Assurance or Quality Control. Without them, the game will be an unplayable mess that the rest of us developers will leave due to our narrow and variable vision during development.
Other developers are so focused on the small picture that sometimes even the biggest issues can go unnoticed. That's where Game Testers come in. Your job is to look at the big picture and make sure the game really works well from the player's point of view.
The main role of Game Testers is to find bugs. Bugs can range from small things like a missing texture on a wall to big game-breaking issues like crashes and game crashes. The tester will find these bugs, report them using whatever software the company uses, and then prioritize the bug. They will also need to test each of these errors multiple times to ensure it's not one.
Not all bugs will be fixed, projects often run out of time to fix known bugs, and sometimes bugs go unnoticed by the QA team. This is unavoidable as you can only hire so many testers whereas a game like Minecraft was made byover 176 million times according to IGNand has been played for many hundreds and thousands of hours by many of these players. So much testing can never be done before a game is released, and as such, players will often find things that testers miss.
Once a bug is fixed, it will be sent back to the Tester to try to recreate the bug. If they can recreate the bug they will send it back for you to fix one more time. If they can't recreate it, they can mark it as fixed and the game gets a little better.
While it is not a Game Tester's job to balance a game, which will often fall to designers and programmers, it is their job to test a game's balance to ensure that it works as intended and "feels right" to the player. This can range from balancing an entire character in MOBAs like League Of Legends to calculating how many health potions a player might need to get through a given dungeon.
While finding and reporting bugs is a science, balancing a game
How do I become a game tester?
A job as a game tester is often the way people get their foot in the door and gain valuable experience that game development companies value so much. Industry experience, even a few months, can prepare someone for another role far more than any previous preparation. As such, it's a great way to build on that knowledge and show the company what else you're capable of while you're at it.
One of the reasons it's a great first step is that there usually aren't many prerequisites for landing the job. While most jobs require (but don't) a college degree and an incredibly strong portfolio, gaming testing is a job that can be learned quickly as you go along, and therefore the entry requirements are lower.
You may still find it difficult to compete with those who have industry experience or relevant qualifications, but generally speaking, you will have an easier time getting a job in quality assurance than other roles.
What skills do I need to be a game tester?
While qualifications may not be as important in game testing as other roles in the industry, they still require a specific set of skills. Most of these are soft skills that can be developed over time, such as attention to detail. Having the right set of skills defined will make you an excellent QA evaluator who will have a real impact on the project.
It takes a huge number of skills to be effective, but here are some of the most important ones:
- Attention to the details– Attention to detail is essential to working as a game tester. This is because you will be required to keep your eyes and ears open at all times, as the slightest thing can flicker on your screen and cause various bugs in the future, and you will need to find them.
- Serveranciaand dedication– Game Testers must be absolutely dedicated to their work. It requires playing the same small parts of unfinished games over and over until you find a problem. It can be a long, exhausting job, and without the perseverance to tackle it, you'll struggle.
- Communication– Good communication is essential to work on quality control. You will need to be able to clearly explain how something is wrong and how you can reproduce the problem. You also need to be able to do this in a way that doesn't offend people who have been working hard on a project for years. Criticizing while maintaining high morale is a difficult skill, but an excellent one to master.
a gametester to have.
How much do game testers get paid?
Gaming salaries vary widely across the industry, so it can be hard to give an exact number, but there are some good rules of thumb about how much you can expect in any given role. Sadly, Game Testers is one of the lowest paying jobs in the industry. This is due to the lower entry barrier as well as the need for skills that don't necessarily require a higher education.
Some other things will be a
Rank would be another determining factor, QA Lead or QA Head will have higher salaries due to the increased responsibility, but these will be roles you will need to spend time to get promoted.
Depending on the company you work for, they may pay more. For example, a third-party company dedicated to quality control often charges more for its quality control services than a company would pay for in-house quality control. This money can sometimes, but not always, come to game testers in the form of a higher salary or better benefits.
How do you treat a game tester?
There's an unfortunate misconception in the gaming industry that game testers don't matter. As such, this could mean that they get the short end of the stick quite often. Fortunately, this isn't true in every corner of the gaming industry, but you may find yourself fighting an uphill battle to be recognized and treated fairly at some companies.
Game Testers are also only needed for a certain amount of time during the development process, i.e. in the latter half and especially towards the end of the project. In companies that rely on releasing a great game every few years, they may have periods where QA isn't necessary when they start the next game. This often leads the company to lay off quality control personnel. Fortunately, most companies will have multiple projects in progress, which means you can move them around to different projects. This leaves the QA team particularly vulnerable to the gaming industry's lack of job security.
Where do you get a job?
There are some places where you can get a job as a Game Tester. The most obvious one will be a gaming company. Many game companies will have an in-house QA team. Sometimes it will be just a few QA leads who have permanent roles while everyone else on the team is hired. This is not a great situation to be in, but unfortunately it is the most common situation. A few lucky people will land a permanent position with a large company, but you should expect to have a lot of job uncertainty to deal with until you find one.
Another place you can find work in games as a QA tester is by working with a specialist QA subcontractor. These are companies that specialize in providing QA work to other companies that do not have their own QA teams or need some additional QA support during a certain part of the project. This allows smaller companies to use Game Testers late in the project, before launch, without having to hire workers for a few months before laying them off again.
bug reporting software
There are some software that are often used to report bugs. These are often sites as opposed to programs, as information needs to be shared among a large group of people. Typically, the company you work for will have a standard that you need to use, but any form of information organization can work, even an Excel document.
There are a wide variety of error reporting software out there, and you could be using a wide variety. Fortunately, most of these programs work in a similar way, so many of the skills are transferable. We'll cover some of the most popular ones.
Generally speaking, you will learn how to use any of these programs to get the job. The only time you're expected to be familiar with the software is if you're looking for a high-level position. It can still be helpful to research the larger programs so that you are more informed when talking to future employers.
Jira is a very popular piece of Atlassian's QA reporting software.. It is part of a suite of programs that can be useful for managing large teams and allows for a high degree of customization. If you spend a decent amount of time in the gaming industry, there's a good chance you'll know Jira pretty well.
MantisBT or Mantis Bug Tracker is a popular bug reporting software. It's not as strong or versatile as Jira, but as open source software, it's free and can be modified as needed.
Monday.com is an increasingly popular bug reporting programalthough I personally haven't seen it used in the gaming industry until now. It specializes in combining with other programs into a streamlined workflow.
Bugzilla is a tool that has been around for a long time and has been used in a huge number of projects.. It's developed by the Mozilla Foundation, the creators of Firefox, among other things. It lacks some of the more sophisticated features of other reporting programs, but it is easy to use and reliable.
This is part of ourmake game serieswhich covers all the jobs you can get working on games written by people who work in the industry. Go check them out if you're interested in a job in gaming.