Most gamers would love the chance to be able to play great video games and get paid for it. Unfortunately though, most gamers think that paid video game testing is too far out of reach and will remain a dream forever. Well luckily, it’s not a “dream” and anybody can be a paid video game tester with the right amount of experience and guidance. The following steps should help you get started with a career in professional video game testing.
Step 1: Don’t Wait For Jobs to Find You, Get Out There and Find Them. Video game tester jobs are not going to fall from the sky, so you can’t expect to find them with a few glances at the Sunday newspaper. Therefore, instead of just sitting around and waiting, be proactive and actually chase those high paying testing jobs. Make a beeline straight toward the game developers and present your case, no matter how poor or excellent it might be. Let them know who you are, what you do (game tester), and why you would make a great addition to their team/project. It’s important to remember that developers aren’t going to hire you on the spot; so, don’t let rejection get you down. They have lots of video game testers applying for projects and jobs, which means they can literally be as picky as they want to be. With that being said, be as confident as you can and be sure to let them know of all your gaming accomplishments and deeds. They should know about what games you play frequently, what consoles you own, what communities you are apart of, and any websites/blogs you own or help operate. No matter what the gaming accomplishment, big or small, it will help with landing you a job.
Step 2: Don’t Think “Hobby with Pay”, Think “Career With Benefits!” You have to keep in mind that developers pay video game testers as part of a job. They are not paying testers to merely enjoy video games at their own expense. Therefore, when you land a testing job, don’t simply play it to have fun; play it like you are earning a paycheck. Does that mean you can’t have any fun? No; it simply means you shouldn’t make “fun” your top priority while testing video games. If you take each and every testing job seriously and give it your all, you should have a much more successful game testing career.
Step 3: Know What To Expect The biggest part of being a professional video game tester is knowing the golden rule; which is “You are paid to test games, not to play them.” There may be a fine line between the two, but any real game tester will tell you that the difference is definitely there. The subtle difference between testing and playing is, well, work. A game tester will have to do actual work, such as filing reports & filling out questionnaires; as opposed to a regular game player, who will just relax and play the game at a leisurely pace. Admittedly, the work isn’t back breaking, but it is work nonetheless. The questionnaires are the easier part of game testing, as all the video game tester has to do is answer some general questions about the game and give his/her honest opinion. The reports, on the other hand, are a bit more difficult to do. These reports need to be filed on every bug/glitch that the tester comes across, and they have to be remarkably accurate. In each report, the video game tester has to describe what happened, where it happened, and how it happened. With this detailed information in hand, the developers & programmers will then fix the problem and find out why it happened in the first place. Every video game goes through this basic cycle, which is precisely why video game testers are so vital to the gaming industry. As you can see, there really isn’t all that much work involved with video game testing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious profession.
Step 4: Build up a Network of Reliable Contacts. Networking is a crucial part of professional video game testing. Although it is quite possible to have a prosperous career without a reliable network, having one just makes things easier. A network of contacts can actually help your career in many different ways. The biggest thing it can do is give you heads up about new job openings and testing assignments that have been announced. Also, some of your contacts can even act as valuable references when applying for testing jobs. And, as if those two things weren’t enough, your network can give you the inside scoop about what’s going on behind closed doors. Much like a video game tester job, a reliable network is not going to just jump out at you. Therefore, you will have to build it up all on your own. The best way to do that is by getting to know the industry and the people who work in it. Anyone that spends time around video games (professionally, of course) can be included in your network; game testers, developers, programmers, concept artists, art designers, graphics designers, technical support specialists, audio specialists, etc. Basically, if they know video games and work with video games, you want them in your network.
Step 5: Don’t Give Up. Keep Trying! The unfortunate fact is that you are not going to land a video game tester job whenever you want one. As a matter of fact, it may be weeks or even months before you land your first testing job. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have what it takes; it just means you have to keep trying & giving it your best. Not many newcomers start off at the top of their game, which means you likely won’t either. Hence, just give it time.