What is Video Game Testing, and What do Game Testers Do?
What is Video Game Testing?
When I first think of video game testers, my mind goes straight to the Adam Sandler sophomoric comedy Grandma’s Boy, but I know, in reality, the life of a game tester is not that different from other, regular people jobs.
The purpose of video game testers is to systematically test aspects of a game to find bugs. You have to use analytical thinking skills to determine how to recreate your steps to cause the bug, and you have to make detailed notes, which are returned to programmers to (hopefully) fix. You have to love the idea of breaking things and take a careful approach to playing a game in all of its possibilities.
If you want to work in a different area of game development, game testing can be a great entry-level position to network and gain a better understanding of how game development works.
What Do Video Game Testers Do All Day?
The object to video games testing is to work with the game development team to find all software defects and bugs.
You may be asked to play a games start to finish as quickly as possible, or you may be asked to play one level repeatedly to find all of the bugs. One QA tester reported doing what is called “matrix testing,” where you play each character in a fighting game against every other character, on every map.
In case you haven’t noticed, one aspect of game testing you’re going to have to accept is the repetitive nature. Some days you could do the same task all day.
When you find errors in gameplay, be it functions, art, or text, you have to carefully document the errors in detail and pass these communications to their respective departments. You’ll have to have excellent written English skills, as well as the ability to communicate with a wide variety of work personalities; for example, computer programmers typically require a different approach than artists.
You may not get a choice in what games you test. The larger game companies obviously hold the bigger titles, while other companies may develop mobile game apps or games for children. It’s possible you would have to play a kid’s game repeatedly or play a genre you just don’t like. One QA tester estimates that for every awesome game you get to play, you’ll have to slog through at least three or four that you aren’t fond of. When games get closer and closer to deadlines, there may be added pressure to work harder and faster; some people have reported having to work significant overtime (60+ hours per week).
A typical day for a QA tester usually involves re-testing previously identified problems, called “regression testing,” attending meetings, communicating with programmers and artists, filing bug reports, and doing “open testing,” where you find new glitches and bugs. If you have excellent written communication skills, an analytical mind, a meticulous nature, and a love of video games, you may want to become a video game tester.