What comes to mind, when you think of video games – fun, cheats, hacks! Well, how about money!
There are some fundamental characteristics that are exhibited my most successful testers that help them do well in this job market. If you are looking for video game tester jobs it certainly helps to enjoy playing these kinds of games, and in most cases the time spent in gaming activities has improved your eye-hand coordination to the point that you have good gaming skills and an understanding of game play beyond the average person.
Unfortunately most “wannna-be” game testers fool themselves into believing that a love of video gaming and some talent is all that is required to be successful at game tester jobs and get paid to play games all day long. Should you be fortunate enough to be hired under this false sense of understanding, you will be in for a rude awakening, and in many cases not last long in any game testers jobs.
Video game testers vs Beta games testers
It is vital that we make an important distinction between being paid to test video games and video game beta testing. Game beta testing is done by volunteers, who usually test the full version of the game just before the release date looking for any last minute problems to report.
Beta testers help in developing games and gaming applications on Android, apk, and ios.
No payment is generally involved for game beta testing other than getting to play a new game before the general public sees it. This article focuses on the actual job where people get paid to play video type games in the role of testers.
Welcome to the “real world” of being a paid video games tester. Your job is very important despite the fact that you are often making only minimum wages as an entry level games tester.
The fate of the gaming development company is on your shoulders since you are the ones who must find any problems or “bugs” within the game so they can be fixed or eliminated before the game can be sold to the buying public.
No game development company can afford to have a “lemon” or seriously flawed game released to the public. It could cost them millions of dollars in research and development and destroy their reputation in the competitive game marketplace for a long time.
Game testers jobs may require you to work on many repetitive tasks such as playing the same level of the game numerous times, switching the gaming device on and off over and over, checking and rechecking in-game messaging capabilities, and the list goes on.
Close to the release date of the game, you may be requested to work extended hours to ensure any and all potential problems with the video game have been identified by your team of video game testers and still be fixed in time.
Why video game tester job programs which make some people thousands of dollars leave others with a bad experience.
And what determines when these programs are, and are not, right for you.
First, let’s look at hunting for a traditional job.
Take a step back and look at ways to seek traditional employment. There are different ways to look for work when searching for any job whether it be a secretary, sales representative, or plumber.
One way is do it yourself. Search on your own for job openings, write your own resumes, and visit each location (at the expense of gasoline or public transportation) to apply and attend interviews. At the end of the process you keep your full paycheck, pay no one else anything to get a job, and owe nothing to anyone once you have a job.
This is the traditional way to obtain employment, and in many situations it’s still the best method today. One consideration if you collect unemployment benefits from a previous job, doing at least some of your job searching this way may be a requirement of the law where you live in order to not lose your unemployment benefits before finding a new job.
Another is work with a staffing agency or temporary employment agency. In this approach, they attempt to find employment for you from among hundreds of potential jobs. They may conduct your only interview or a small number of interviews, from which they gather the information needed to find the best matches for you among all the jobs in their database.
They may also offer assistance in writing a master resume for their use, or a set of resumes from which they can select the best for each kind of job to submit to multiple companies.
Some agencies pay you, while charging the company needing workers both what you are owed and additional money to cover their fees. In this scenario, the agency is charging the business needing staff for providing workers as well as human resource management and other administrative services.
Alternatively, placement agencies and organizations which service freelancers may charge the job seeker: either a one-time fee per successful placement, or regular membership fees. One-time fees are more common among agencies providing permanent job placement, while membership fees are more common among providers of freelance work.
For example, freelance truckers can subscribe to services which give them access to hundreds of available shipping contracts they can select from. In this example, the agency aggregates and presents as many available contracts as possible to truckers for a fee; and leaves it up to the truckers to accept offers which best meet their personal, scheduling, and financial goals.
Taxi drivers may have a similar arrangement with a dispatch agency which charges a regular fee for use of a branded name, the service of forwarding call-in customers to drivers, and possibly use of a vehicle specially equipped to serve as a taxi. Drivers in turn keep the money they collect from their passengers.
How are jobs as a video game tester different?
The answer is, they are not any different.
With game tester jobs your options are the same.
You can do it yourself. Using your own experience, education, and training you can seek employment entirely on your own for free. You can search for opportunities using your own effort just as with any other kind of job. Directly contacting companies like Blizzard, EA Software, Konami, Riot Games, and others on your own will only cost you in your own time and resources.
All you need to do is compete directly with other possibly more experienced game testers; some of whom may already understand what hiring managers will be looking for, be familiar with these companies, and have a broader set of experiences to build their resumes and portfolios from.
You won’t have to pay anyone to compete directly against other applicants who may be able to respond faster, with more powerful qualifications, and a better idea of what matters and what doesn’t to perspective employers.
Or, you could work with a video game tester job program. This arrangement works similar to the arrangement with staffing companies and freelance agencies for more traditional jobs.
In some arrangements, membership for the person seeking work is free. When this is the case, the game development company needing games tested is paying the company running the program to provide testers from a pool of applicants.
You may, or may not, receive the same payment as when you work directly for the game development company. In either case, if your membership is free it’s because the game development company pays money to the program in addition to the money you receive.
In exchange, the company operating the program handles human resources or other tasks – such as screening potential applicants and only selecting those they feel are best suited to the interests of the game development company.
These companies do not charge you, because they charge the game development company and that’s who they work for – not you.
Other arrangements more closely resemble freelance agencies for taxi drivers, truckers, message specialists, beauticians, and so on. You pay a membership fee and in exchange you receive services, the most basic of which include making available to you as many jobs as you can qualify for. Others may include: helping you develop and present your resume, matching you with the best contracts, and managing your portfolio for you. You pay them, either a monthly fee or a percentage of what you make, and they are working for you – not the gaming company.
So, why are video game tester job programs great programs for some but not for others?
And, how do I know when such a program is right for me?
The main reason is mismatching between the game tester’s goals and objectives vs. a program’s services and benefits.
Experienced game testers often won’t benefit from a program, but could still benefit from books or other resources which some programs come with. They should check first if they could obtain the same books and resources on their own faster, at less cost, or both. A program would only benefit the experienced game tester if paying a fee just to get these kinds of resources would cost less in time and money than going out to find the same resources on their own.
If you’re a professional game tester and feel jobs offered through these programs are a step backwards for you, but you still don’t want to search on your own (maybe you average $11/hr. but could average $35/hr. if you had help being more competitive), you could always work with traditional staffing agencies.
This is best if you are trying to move from an existing full-time game tester position to a better one, or are also open to other kinds of employment. The down side is they may poorly handle video game tester jobs unless they specialize in gaming. If your qualifications are strong enough, and your portfolio stands well on its own, using a traditional staffing agency is probably still your best choice if you’re serious about moving to a better game development position from one you already have.
If you’re new to game related jobs or the job market in general, then you probably would benefit from a program. College education programs are best if you seek degree training in the field. However, college programs seldom offer job placement at the end of the program.
If you’re concerned about actually obtaining a job once you get your degree, you may want to augment your college education by participating in a freelance video game tester job program during your off-time from school. Augmenting your college education with time spent participating in a freelance program is probably the best bet for someone new to game development.
Another issue is the way these programs are marketed. Matching workers with jobs for a fee is older than the United States; however the video game industry only developed since the advent of the information age. As a result, agencies which match workers with traditional work generally promote themselves by describing their benefits in a strait forward way. There is no need to convince anyone on the concept of a traditional job; they simply need to inform people on reasons they may want to use a staffing service as opposed to seeking employment on their own.
By comparison, video game tester job programs need to promote both the concept of being a video game tester and the concept of using a freelance program to do so. This is sometimes done using persuasive language combined with the best examples of potential income which (while accurate) may not reflect the average tester’s typical results.
Also some websites promoting these programs are not built by the company operating the program, but instead by 3rd party internet marketers who simply build a website using the most favorable and persuasive information before moving on to another site promoting a different product. It’s not that anyone is running a “scam” per se. The video game tester job program is in the business of matching potential testers with available work, while the affiliate webmaster is in the business of building as many websites for as many products as they can earn income promoting.
Affiliate sites with these characteristics are likely to be providing you information you can trust and make sound decisions on; and to advertise and market proven programs, even if other sites promoting the same programs use more generic sales tactics.
What if you are not interested in college or a permanent career, you just want some easy money.
If this is the case, you need to look at the kinds of assignments you choose once you sign up for a video game tester job program. Most programs offer consumer experience (CE, UX, or UXA) assignments as well as quality assurance (QA) assignments, even if their website talks mostly about QA. However, when selecting, applying for, and accepting assignments be sure to read carefully what the assignment entails and the requirements you must meet in order to get paid. QA offers generally pay a lot more, but QA assignments are not as easy and nowhere near as fun. QA testing is very tedious, can be frustrating at times, and requires a more committed mindset. Of course, if you see a QA offer which it looks like you’d enjoy doing (and it pays enough) don’t overlook it. Just understand QA assignments are not as easy as CE, UX, and UXA assignments – especially if your mindset is easy money. The upside to QA of course is that it pays more when you do fulfill all its requirements.
Getting Hired as a Video Game Tester in Seven Simple Steps
First, you simply must enjoy playing games. Many people think being a games tester would just be an easy job, but without a sincere passion for gaming, just showing up for a paycheck simply doesn’t work. If you don’t sincerely love playing video games, then when the time to ship the game draws close, and everyone is putting in long hours to find all those remaining bugs in the game being tested, you won’t be enjoying yourself.
Second, learn that video games are software, and should be tested as such. Learn how to test the game as software, not simply a game. Discovered bugs aren’t simply a problem with the game play; they are most likely code bugs in the software. Learn the fundamentals of software testing, and you will find a lot more bugs, and soon become the leading bug finder on your team. This will make you a rockstar game tester, and the jobs will come to you as your reputation as a video game tester grows.
Third, don’t limit yourself to testing only one gaming platform or company. Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo are the big three, but if you limit yourself to only one of those, you limit the game tester jobs and opportunities that are available to you. Learn to use the PC as a gaming platform if you don’t already, and you will rapidly increase your video game tester job opportunities.
Fourth, acquire some game testing experience before building your resume. There are numerous video game beta tester opportunities that are free to apply for, and although they are unpaid, you will gain valuable experience. Build a portfolio of games, get experience playing them, on PC, as well as some mobile games. Some games to get experience are – FIFA, League of Legends, Injustice, Call of duty, Gangster Vegas, Real Racing 3, Dungeon Rampage, Dead Trigger 2 etc.
Fifth, learn a few things about the video game industry. Having a basic understanding of what it takes to design, market and ship a game will impress potential employers to no end, and put you way ahead of the pack of ordinary game testers.
Sixth, determine which company or companies you would like to work for. Many jobs are on-site, meaning you will have to live or work where the actual company is, but many companies will hire people to test their games at home, on their own systems, so your geographic location doesn’t have to be an obstacle.
Seventh, after following the first 6 steps, it will be time to build your resume and cover letter. You will now be able to really showcase your passion for video games, as well as show your potential employer you know something about game testing. This will give you a significant advantage against other entry-level game testers, and insures you will be hired for your first video game tester job!