Mom, I wanna be a real game tester!
Surely there were already a lot of software testing articles about game testers, yet they all vary in content. Video Games Testing sounds like a job offer from heaven as you are seemingly getting paid for playing all day long. But, unfortunately our world is a bit crueler than it has to be. As strange as it may sound game testing is not at all about fun and games. It’s more about creativity, soft skills, and skills in troubleshooting as well as detective work. Your paycheck comes from people expecting results from you rather than good people willing to pay for your amusement.
This does not mean testing is not fun. Playing a game is not fun if you are a tester, but the process of finding possible defects is of great amusement if you are the perfect person for the job. It’s like with any other job in the world, whether you love your key responsibilities or you don’t.
And there is also the environment game companies are supporting employees with. First of all you will be surrounded by people passionate in what you are doing (testers without passion for it don’t last long). Secondly you will likely have cheap or free snacks, sports and relax rooms with appropriate equipment, etc.
Apparently things are not as bad as it seemed from the start? So let’s talk about actual pitfalls and turnovers of the industry.
Is that thing my salary? Really?
You will not get paid much. You probably won’t even be getting paid at all from the start. A lot of companies have a nasty attitude believing any QA person may be replaced within seconds. You may even be working as a contractor for a few years before the company will offer you a position on the team.
What may be done? Learn and evolve constantly. Don’t consider yourself as just a person playing a game to test it. Use your talents and make yourself appreciated. If you get some access to between console compliance issues use that chance to become a great specialist in compliance matters. If you can code go for some unit tests or other automation that is slowly but steadily pushing itself into the game testing industry. That way you will probably be able to earn a bit more. One nastier thing is the lack of career paths possible. But the way described above may resolve this issue if you are both smart and skilled.
Can I go home now?
Heard about people working overtime a couple of times a month? That would be a dream to a game tester that’s been working overtimes for just as long as he can remember. And the worst part is that you won’t probably get paid for the extra time spent on a project.
Bad approach to testers as professionals is a part of company culture and, unfortunately you won’t be capable of doing much about it in a big company with years of history. Thus it would be better to work for small businesses. There will be a lot of overtime there as well, but you will at least have a nice chance to influence the approach to testers, etc. One nicer feature of working in a relatively small team is that you will have a great chance to affect people’s opinion over you. Reality is that testers are often considered as monkeys with gamepads by many developers. And if you know them personally their opinion will change about you hence you will be known and treated as a professional.
So are you really up to the challenge? Please share in the comments below!