Beginning a career in video game testing is not always as simple as you may think. By no means should you ever treat it as a secondary endeavor. Like any other job, it is crucial that you pay close attention to all requirements of any employer.
I have outlined some very basic rules of thumb that any great game tester candidate will adhere to. When you are working on your testing job, you will be gathering and preparing information about the game for dissemination to the firm who is employing you. With this being said, the details you may have never noticed before will just start popping for you. You will soon be seeing things in games you have never noticed prior to becoming a great video game tester.
Because of this fine tuned skill of paying very close attention, the marks on your resume will soon be reflecting this and therefore it is very likely you will be getting offered higher compensation to match it with your current or future employers. Here are the rules of thumb I have just mentioned. Just my personal steadfast list:
- First off, you must already totally love gaming! It sounds silly to even bring it up but game testing is honestly a love it or hate it type of deal. If you don’t absolutely feel passionate for the gaming industry as a whole, you just flat out won’t make it long. You will burn out and start hating games. Do you really want that? I can assume the answer is no. Assuming I am right then you need to look at it like this. Once the developer ships out that brand new non released game for you to start digging into, you should be waiting with anticipation. With genuine excitement, you will be competitive with your fellow peer game testers in other parts of the country and you will actually be more productive because of that excitement. Productivity = more titles to test. More titles to test means more experience and more money in your pocket.
- Many game testers fall into a limited way of thinking and only tend to test for those companies who create the titles they enjoy the most. This is a very dangerous path for your career. Remember the big three? Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. Now of course there are hundreds of other developers, out there, so don’t just stick with Microsoft X-Box One games for example, when there may be plenty of opportunity at Bethesda Softworks. You get my point.
- Realize right now before you even begin as a tester that video games are often considered a software suite or package. Not just another “game”. If you look at them as software and understand that every piece of software on the planet has a developer or in this case an entire team of developers, you will start understanding their job also. If you understand the basic job function of the developers, then you will know what is important to report in each game. You will also understand the why’s behind the how’s. Why is it important to report this or that? What will the developer specifically do with this bit of information? Keep reading and when you get your first tester job and heed my words, you will discover all of the answers to these questions and gain valuable know how as a game tester.
- Educate yourself about the inner workings of the video game industry. Gaming professionals are constantly bombarded with average “gamers.” Take it from me, this gets very old, very quick. Instead learn how the business works from the outside in using references like the internet. Read all about how it works, from idea, to development, testing to marketing. Industry insiders are very secretive about this business but the internet is your best friend when it comes to research. Put your game controller down and get your studying mind active. If you are serious about becoming a game tester then you need to get started right now.
- Take on many small jobs for smaller firms right off the bat. Start working and don’t get too picky about the money either. The point is to build up a powerful resume that will make the big company salivate when they see it. When employers get resumes of this nature, they oftentimes will compete with each other over employees. This is exactly the position you want to be in! Some very small and limited budget companies even seek out non paid testers. Although these companies can not afford to compensate with money, you still get the free game, but way more importantly, you get the experience on your resume. You can get started right away just by following the instructions located in the job guides. Having the knowledge and know how will do wonders to dazzle potential employers.
- Confirm what your long term goals are. If your goal is to be working for a particular company as a game tester, check to see if that company will require you to relocate or if you will be able to work from home. Start researching this right away. There are many of both types of companies. Some of the sources list over 200 companies and are continually adding more.
- After you have completed these steps, you should then get started polishing up or creating from scratch a resume. Make sure to list off the experience you have playing the games, but more importantly your passion and knowledge of the industry you gained. Also be sure to list the testing firms I mentioned if you decide to work for them, then of course list them on your resume as well, Following the steps laid out here will greatly increase the odds of you landing your dream game testing gig. From there, your future in the game industry will be wide open as long as you continue to learn and grow.
Jacob Tyler spent over 15 years in the video game industry selling video games online. He was the CEO of a major video game wholesale supplier and importer. Video games were always a passion since the ripe old age of 10 but later turned it into a full time career. Now he helps people get into the industry at the easiest stepping stone of video game testing by reviewing source guides in the subject.