The Profession of Game Testing (edited)

“I can get paid while having fun and playing a video game before its releases!”

And this is usually the expectation of being a game tester. In reality, game testings requires very little skill and it can be done internally within the game development teams or with the team’s friends and family. Big game developers like Sony and Nintendo can afford to hire a few temporary video games testers for their releasing games.

Game testing usually happen in the late phase of the game development, when the developers are looking for people to test their product and seek feedback. During the game testing, testers are only allow to do what the developers assigned to. It may be jumping repetitively at a spot for loopholes, clicking buttons to see if they all work, testing the game balance… or anything the game developers are bored of testing for the previous months. Nevertheless, unreleased games still under testing will have more flaws than released games. In another word, game testing is like playing the unfinished version of game in the boring ways.

Image result for game tester reality vs expectation

Expectation vs Reality of being a game tester, source: Dorkly

In addition, I worked in an indie game developing studio before and after graduating from college. Our game development team also helped out other game developers in their testings. Speaking from experience, the game development process usually goes like this:

  1. Brainstorm for game idea and planning
  2. Try to set up dummy environment and game mechanic
    • If it doesn’t work, tweak a bit or go back to step one
  3. Programmers start coding, designers start making models, environments, sounds effects
    • Hearing the programmer’s frustration of why the code doesn’t work and the designers trying to squeeze idea from past experiences
    • If result doesn’t come out as expected, development team argue and resettle, restart step three (may repeat many times)
  4. Having a playable “game”, start internal testing. The developers know how to play the game. Spot and list all bugs and fix them. (Can lead back to step 3)
  5. Optimize aesthetic, in environment, sound, music, game play flow, and balancing factors
  6. Internal game test again
    • If bugs found, go back to step 4
    • If no more bugs, ask friends/family members to test games some day for feedback
  7. Optimize game with constructive feedbacks
  8. Test again
    • If ready to be shown to public (This is when game testers show up).
      • For budget limited game studio, the game testers may be only friends of the developers or given compensations like pizza and soda
      • Big game developers may offer paychecks
  9. If developers are satisfied with the testing results, game will be releases (even then, there may be bugs being spotted after release

When speaking of professional game testing jobs, there are legitimate game testing jobs. Not all game testing jobs are scams. However, the supply of game tester is always much higher than the demand. The excess amount of supply of game testers gave the opportunities to scammers to get money from game enthusiasts. In addition, no one is going to need a $5 ebook to learn how to play video games nor any developer is going to hire a full time game tester because all skill is needed is knowing how to follow the developer’s instruction.

According to Glassdoor, the average video game tester’s hourly rate in January 2017 is about $10. As game developers don’t always have games available for public testing, the job most likely is going to be temporary. Hence being a full time retail associate will have a more stable earning and will earn more than a video game tester.


Game tester average salary in the US

In conclusion, the time for game testing is relatively short when comparing to the total amount of time needed game development. The whole game development process may take months or even years, but the testing will only take hours to days. Due to the high supplies and low skill requirement, the compensation is going to be low but yet there are scammers trying to make money out of this.

PS: Scammers may also use big companies names like Microsoft Xbox to scam. For security, only apply on the company’s career page.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s