If you live and breathe video games, then a career in game testing might just be your dream job. As the video game industry continues to grow, video game tester jobs are increasingly in demand.
But you should be aware that being a video game tester doesn’t mean you’ll get paid just to play games all day. There are other things involved with the position, and if you want to land this fun and exciting job, you’ll want to make sure you meet the requirements.
In this article, we’ll explore how to become a game tester, including the skills you’ll need, what it’s like, and tips to getting hired for this job.
What is a Video Game Tester?
Though the job title seems self-explanatory, game testing involves a lot more than just playing video games before they go to market.
Video game testers are responsible for quality assurance — meaning they play games or portions of a game that are currently in development. A game tester ensures that the gameplay is smooth and doesn’t have any bugs. As part of their job, video game testers work hand-in-hand with the development team, including programmers and developers.
When they do play video games, they’re not necessarily doing it for the enjoyment of gaming. They often repeat levels or sequences in games to make sure every option or path in a given game has been tried out. When problems arise in a game, they’re responsible for taking note so that the technical teams can fix the glitches.
What Does a Video Game Tester Do, Exactly?
Now that you have a broader idea of what a video game tester is, we’ll take a closer look at the specifics of what they do on a daily basis.
When testing a game, there are a few general steps that are followed on a regular basis. These steps are then repeated over and over again on the same sequences until it’s perfect, and then the game tester moves on to the next task or sequence.
So, what does the testing look like? Here’s a breakdown:
- Play a sequence or level and look out for bugs or glitches
- If you find a glitch, figure out how it can be reproduced
- Report and record the bug or glitch in the relevant reporting system
- Send the report to the programming and developing team who will try to fix it
- Retest the sequence when the bug is removed and start the process over again for new bugs
As a video game tester, you’re likely a seasoned gamer. So, another one of your tasks is to play the game in a way that the developers perhaps didn’t anticipate in order to seek out flaws or defects in the gameplay.
What Skills Do Video Game Testers Need to Have?
First and foremost, video game testers need patience. Video game testing isn’t all fun and games, but requires a keen eye for detail and the ability to go over something several times until it’s perfected.
Imagine how frustrating it is when you can’t get past a certain obstacle or level when you play for fun. Now, imagine your job is to work through that frustration daily until the obstacle is surmounted. Furthermore, you don’t usually get to choose the game you test, so patience is key if you’re playing something you wouldn’t normally enjoy.
It’s also important to be extremely detail-oriented in the world of video game testing. Since the job requires you to find glitches and flaws, you’ll need to be extremely focused so you can pick up on the small details that both the developers or the average gamer might miss.
Not only that, but you’ll also need to be creative since you’ll need to think outside of the box in order to break a game since this isn’t something that regularly happens. You’re looking for those one-in-a-million chance scenarios.
Additionally, your communication skills are also important since you’ll be working closely with other teams to report and fix the problems. You’ll need to be able to effectively communicate the bugs on reports so that the programmers can have a good enough understanding of the issue in order to fix it.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Game Tester?
Becoming a game tester is a great entryway into the field of video game production. Often, game testers go on to become video game developers. So, if you’re interested in creating video games and not only testing them, starting out as a game tester can be a great way to accomplish this goal.
Video game development isn’t the only path you can take if you want to eventually move on from game testing. Game testers can also advance to careers in video game graphic design, quality assurance engineers, project manager roles, or testing team managers.
One of the main benefits of game testing is that there are ample opportunities for growth within the field of gaming. Of course, growing into a higher position also depends on your work ethic, performance, and the technical skills you have. Still, video game testing can help you hone and sharpen those skills, making you a prime candidate for other gaming positions.
Opportunities within the field are sure to become more and more in demand as gaming is a growing industry. Revenue from gaming has increased exponentially only in the last decade, and by 2028, the industry is expected to generate $300 million.
Tips on Becoming a Video Game Tester
If learning how to become a video game tester has gotten you more excited about finding a job in this field, you should also know that it’s a very competitive industry. Many people with a love of gaming want to work with video games, so there usually are a lot of applicants for video game tester jobs.
You can stand out from the crowd in a few ways. Take a look at these tips to help you land a career as a video game tester.
Pick Up Some Technical Knowledge
Most video game testing positions only require a high school degree, but you’ll impress future employers if you can also prove that you have the technical skills that go along with your other gaming skills.
The American Software Testing Qualification Board (ASTQB) is a great place to look for gaining that extra technical knowledge that can put you over the edge. You can get a certificate in software testing so that you already have the technical knowledge you’ll need to start work as a game tester.
Work on Your Gaming Skills
Everyone applying to video game testing jobs loves gaming and is probably good at it. Being passionate about video games isn’t enough to work as a game tester. You’ll also need to prove you have the gaming skills to go along with it.
To improve your gaming skills, you should learn gaming terminology, including technical ones. You should also diversify the types of games you play to get a better understanding of more genres. Look at blogs or groups on social media to familiarize yourself with gaming communities, terms, and to grow your network.
Get Game Testing Experience
Before you apply for game testing jobs, try and get some experience in the field. There are public forums where you can search for public beta testing gigs. These jobs can help you learn some basic skills about what to look out for when testing a game as well as how to spot bugs and fill out and submit reports. Furthermore, by participating in public beta testing, you’ll get a better understanding for the job so you can see if this is the right position for you.
Video Game Tester Salary Expectations
The salary for game testers can vary depending on your location, the company, how many hours you work, and many other factors.
Some video game testers are paid hourly, while some are paid a salary. It’s also worth noting that some gaming studios see game testers as the bottom of the food chain, so their salaries aren’t always that high. So, if you’re seeking a position that has higher pay, you’ll have to do your homework and find a studio that really values its quality assurance and testing employees.
According to Game Industry Career Guide, game testing salaries can fall anywhere in between $18,000 to $55,000 annually. The salary will depend on your skills and if you’re an entry-level tester or an experienced senior game tester.
Another factor to consider is that it’s not uncommon for game testers to be part-time or temporary employees. That’s why a lot of video game testers are paid hourly. Often, game testing is more in demand when there’s a specific game or project that needs to pass QA. However, when there are no projects in the testing phase, game testers aren’t needed, so they’re not always kept on as permanent employees.
That being said, when there is a new project that needs to be tested, game testers might also work overtime, which can also affect your overall salary. Overall, a game tester salary is influenced by a lot of different factors, so it’s ideal to speak to other game testers in your area or at studios you’re applying to in order to get a better picture of what you’ll earn.
Do You Need a Degree to Become a Video Game Tester?
In short: No.
Can it benefit you? Absolutely.
You don’t need a degree, undergrad or otherwise, in order to become a video game tester. Many postings for game testing jobs only require a high school diploma, so in most cases, a degree isn’t necessary.
That being said, if your goal is to continue to work in the gaming industry after starting as a video game tester, then you likely will need a degree in something related.
Since game testing is often done as a part-time job or on a temporary contract, it’s possible for you to do this job while studying for a degree. This way, you’ll already have a foot in the door at a gaming studio once you graduate.
There are a number of degrees that are useful that will also allow you to grow within a company and move into a different role. Here are some of the degrees you should consider if you’re after a career in gaming:
- Software Development
- Software Engineering
- Computer Sciences
- Computer Programming
- Game Design
- Graphic Design
- Software Design
- Video Game Development and Programming
- Interactive Media Design
- Computer Animation
- Digital Cinematography
Another route to landing your dream gaming job is to begin as a game tester, and then take certification programs based on the area you’re interested in pursuing. Depending on what aspect of gaming you want to work in, this can be a quicker and more cost-effective way to get the professional training you need.
If you are looking for a way to earn a degree that doesn’t break the bank, consider doing an online degree in Computer Sciences at University of the People. Not only is the program tuition-free, but you’ll be able to learn online at your own conveniences. This way, you’ll have no problem working as a video game tester while also earning a degree that’s relevant to your field.
The Bottom Line
Now that you’ve learned all there is to know about how to become a game tester, the next step is making a plan of action for how you’re going to land your first job.
Start by assessing the skills you already have and filling in the skills that need to be further developed. Then, start networking with gaming studios near you that are looking for game testers to get a better understanding of what they look for in a candidate.