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How to Become a Video Game Tester

video game tester The gaming industry is in a period of growth and is expected to more than double between 2010 and 2015. This bodes well for those wanting to be video game testers. / Credit: Dikiiy | Shutterstock.com

Think testing new products is all fun and games? Think again. As the popularity and complexity of video games continues to increase in the United States, there’s a growing demand for dedicated, detail-oriented video game testers.

These testers are responsible for making sure that the products gamers grab off the shelves meet the exacting standards set by game developers and industry publishers.

If you’re thinking about trying your hand at video game testing, then keep reading to find out more about what testers do, where they usually work, and how much money they typically earn.

Video game tester jobs

Video games have only been around for a few decades, but the demand for quality control of products goes back much further. Quality control testers repeatedly test products or prototypes before they go on sale to the public. They check for flaws and suggest improvements to the products they test.

Video game testers are quality control personnel who work specifically on testing games to check for flaws in programming, such as program glitches, broken applications, or non-functioning visual effects.

Testers often play the same levels of a game many times consecutively and crosscheck it with a detailed plan that tells them how the game is supposed to function. When they find errors, testers report them to developers who will fix them before the game goes to market.

Game tester job openings

Video game testers typically work for video game development studios. These studios might be owned by major game publishers like Electronic Arts (EA), Nintendo, or Sony or by independent game publishers.

Working conditions for video game testers vary depending on where they work and how many hours they are expected to test consecutively. Many testers work part time or on a contract basis. However, full-time employment of video game testers is not uncommon, particularly for those with experience in the field.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median wage for full-time video game testers is around $50,000 a year. However, most entry-level testing positions pay less than this.

The Houston Chronicle reports that major cities — such as New York, Los Angeles or Seattle — are usually the best places to find work as a game tester. Most studios don’t allow employees to test games from home, so finding work in this field depends on living close to where studios are located.

The demand for testers is dependent on the health of the gaming industry around the world. According to a 2011 study by technology research company Gartner, the gaming industry is in the midst of a massive period of growth and is expected to more than double between 2010 and 2015. This bodes well for those looking to start out as testers.

Becoming a video game tester

Just as in every field, the requirements for becoming a video game tester vary depending on the position for which you apply. Some game developers prefer to hire testers as quality control personnel exclusively, and create entry-level jobs to this effect.

However, other employers wish to employ testers who have a higher understanding of programming and software development. 

Tips on becoming a video game tester

Education-portal.com offers the following advice to those who wish to pursue a career as a video game tester.

Hone your skillsas a video game player. Almost every game developer is looking to hire someone who is both talented and passionate about gaming. Familiarize yourself with gaming terminology and trends. It may be helpful to join a social media network devoted to gaming or start a blog on the subject. You should also seek to be well-rounded in the kinds of games you can play. You might already be an expert at certain genres, but give new games a shot, as well.

Get technical training. Though not all employers require a college degree for entry-level game testing positions, it’s not a bad idea to expand your career options by obtaining a degree in computer programming, software development or graphic design. Well-rounded job applicants will have an easier time climbing the corporate ladder and might have a more fruitful career in the gaming industry.

Gain some technical experienceby learning how to write a bug report, participating in public beta tastes of games, and interning at gaming companies. The more experience you can add to your resume when looking for a job, the better.

Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth writes about innovative technologies and business trends. She has traveled throughout the Americas in her roles as student, English teacher, Spanish language interpreter and freelance writer. She graduated with a B.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University. You can follow her on Twitter @techEpalermo or .