Video game tester jobs sound like a dream come true. Many gamers envision long days spent doing nothing but their favorite pastime, little imagining the amount of work and job skill involved in any form of software quality assurance. As ephemeral as the dream of simply being paid to play video games for hours on end really is, video game tester jobs can provide a decent living. Work is usually done in the office, but many companies will hire testers to work from home. Beta testing is usually done after an early public release to determine the usability of the game. Video game tester jobs during beta are usually temporary and are sometimes unpaid. The larger the company involved, the more likely payment is. Many smaller companies will provide gratis copies of the game to testers instead of payment. If a tester requires payment, checking with the company first is the best bet.
Testing methods vary from company to company, though all come from industry standard software testing models. Functionality testing is what most people imagine when they think of video game tester jobs. Functionality testing involves playing the game to find errors or problems within the interface and flow of game play. This style of testing does not really involve playing the game through from beginning to end and noting any problems found. Rather, it means that the tester spends a large amount of time picking apart details of the game during play in order to find issues that a simple run through might miss. This can include localization testing, which involves testing the game script, including any text that may be printed on the screen. Compatibility testing is most important for PC games, because the hardware can vary depending on the way the end user has set up their system. Different graphics cards and input devices should be used during game play to make sure that everything functions properly. Soak testing involves allowing the game to run for long periods in different states to determine long term stability. Load testing involves loading as much of the program as possible to test for stability. This can include putting in the maximum number of game sprites, for instance. Regression testing compares a new build with fixes to a build previously tested to determine if anything was missed or if anything new has broken. The last form of testing looks for copyright and other violation issues that may cause legal problems. Any or all types of testing may apply to a game being tested.
Working video game tester jobs requires a lot of dedication. While no special education is required and game play skills are a definite plus, the best testers have a good eye for detail, decent writing skills, and the ability to report issues clearly and succinctly, whether in words, screen shots or some combination. The longer a tester works in video game tester jobs, more responsibility and a higher pay rate may be available. Many websites suggest very high pay rates for beginning testers and suggest that testers need game skills alone. Unfortunately, jobs like that are very rare. In reality, testers are paid between $25,000 and $40,000 yearly. Very few companies pay the highest rates to testers who work remotely on their own couches in their own living rooms. Management video game tester jobs pay better, but they usually require a degree of some kind, depending on the company. Testers without degrees should be aware that there may be a ceiling regarding upward mobility.