Becoming a video game tester is probably the life long dream for a lot of people out there and they definitely did make it look like “the life” in the cult classic movie, Grandma’s Boy but it really isn’t all fun and games. If gaming is your passion and you have a highly alert mind, exacting standards and a critical nature then you could conceivably do relatively well for yourself. There are, however, several issues which you’ll need to keep track of if you want to succeed sooner rather than later, or if you haven’t made up your mind yet whether this is what you want to do.
1: How do you find a game testing job
There’s a long list of wannabe testers out there and the competition will be tight, this is also why the job security is not so great. From high school many people have decided that all they want to do it play computer games and if being a tester will get them paid for it, then they’ll do almost anything. First of all you need to be a resident of a country which actually develops games to stand a chance, which probably means the US, some parts of Europe and Japan.
If you’ve got that down you should start submitting your C.V to every developer as well as the agencies you know they make use of. What goes on your C.V should be the list of games that you’ve played, and these should include titles from every genre. Developers don’t want specialists, they want testers that will take on any title.
2: How’s the pay?
In two words, not great. Unfortunately, game testing still seems to be unfairly viewed as an almost minimum wage enterprise and this is because the kinds of experience you need is limited and not generally taught in schools. The only academic skill which helps a tester is computer courses and proven skills in managing reports and admin, and these can be very basic. The sliding scale is vast but my research says that, on average, mid-level testers make around $15 an hour and, if they’re lucky with their assigned hours, they might walk out with $600 dollars per month.
Again this isn’t a strength for the industry. Because they’re not unionised, testers receive no benefits and as such, little job security. Working hours are not always guaranteed and when you do get a job you might slave away all at once as a project reaches “crunch time”.
Shireen Louw is a professional wedding photographer in Cape Town who has done more than 250 weddings over the past 5 years.