Video Game Testers
Exploring this Job
Students interested in video game testing and other computer jobs should gain wide exposure to computer systems and video games of all kinds. Become a power user. Get a computer at home, borrow a friend's, or check out the computer lab at your school. First, work on becoming comfortable using the Windows programs and learn how to operate all aspects of computers, including the hardware, thoroughly. Look for bugs in your software at home and practice writing them up.
Secondly, play as many video and computer games as you can. Get good at all different types of games. Learn the differences between games and become familiar with all commands, tasks, and shortcuts.
Keep up with emerging technologies. If you cannot get much hands-on experience, read about the industry. Join a computer group or society. Read books on testing and familiarize yourself with methodology, terminology, the development cycle, and where testing fits in. Subscribe to newsletters or magazines that are related to video game testing, programming, animation, and game design, such as Computer Graphics World (https://www.cgw.com). Get involved with online newsgroups that deal with the subject, such as Gamasutra (https://www.gamasutra.com).
Secure a part-time or summer job as a video game tester if you live in an area where numerous video game development companies are located. An internship with a game development company or any computer-related internship will be a helpful learning experience.
If possible, save up to attend the Game Developers Conference (https://www.gdconf.com) when you are a sophomore or junior in high school. This is a great chance to network with the industry and make yourself known. In addition, investigate the possibility of spending an afternoon with a video game tester to find out what a typical work day is like.
The primary responsibilities of video game testers are game testing and report writing. Testers work with all sorts of games, including handheld electronic devices, computer programs, and traditional video games, which are played on the television screen. As technology advances, testers are responsible for games on more compact electronic devices, such as mobile telephones and palm-sized electronic organizers, as well as online games.
Before video game manufacturers can introduce a game to the consumer market, they must run extensive tests on its quality and effectiveness. Failing to do so thoroughly can be very expensive, resulting in poor sales when games are defective or do not perform well. Video and computer games require extremely detailed technical testing.
Games to be tested arrive in the testing department after programmers and software engineers have finished the initial version. Each game is assigned a specific number of tests, and the video game testers go to work. To test a game, testers play it over and over again for hours, trying to make moves quickly or slowly to "crash" it. A program crashes if it completely stops functioning due to, among other things, an inability to process incoming commands. Testers spend the majority of their time identifying smaller glitches or discrepancies in games, which are known as "bugs."
Video game testers must clearly report any bugs that they find in a game. They keep detailed records of the hours logged working on individual programs. These are called bug reports, and they are based on the tester's observations about how well the game performed in different situations. Testers must always imagine how typical, nontechnical users would judge it. Video game testers can also make suggestions about design improvements.
Prior to being employed in this field, it is important for potential video game testers to carefully observe how different types of people play games. This will help to ensure that suggestions and evaluations reflect more than just personal bias.
In addition, testers verify that video games perform in accordance with designer specifications and user requirements. This includes checking not only the game's functionality (how it will work), but also its network performance (how it will work with other products), installation (how to put it in), and configuration (how it is set up).
Once video game testers make sure that the correct tests are run and the reports are written, they send the game back to the programmers for revisions and correction. Some testers have direct contact with the programmers. After evaluating a product, they might meet with programmers to describe the problems they encountered and suggest ways for solving glitches. Others report solely to a game testing coordinator or supervisor.
The goal is to make the video games and computer programs more efficient, user-friendly, fun, and visually exciting. Testers keep track of the precise combinations of controller movements, keystrokes, and mouse clicks that made the program err or crash. These records must be very precise because they enable supervisors and programmers to replicate the problem. Then they can better isolate its source and begin to design a solution.
Video game testers work closely with a team of development professionals. Computer and video game developers and designers create and develop new games. They delegate responsibilities to artists, writers, and audio engineers who work together to produce the developer's desired vision of each game. These professionals creatively collaborate their ideas of style and flow to make each game a polished and engaging finished project. Programmers have to reproduce the bugs before they fix them. Producers keep the video game's progress on schedule and within budget.