Game testing is a profession clouded in mystery.
Most gamers think that game testing is the ultimate job, a dream come true for any gamer. After all, a game tester gets to spend all day playing games, right?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The job of game testing isn’t simply playing games.
From my experience of making games at Chaos Trend, game testing is a gruelling, slog of a job that often offers little security or cash for your efforts. The game tester is a nomad, hiking between Triple-A blockbuster and Indie bootstrapper on a weekly basis, never settling. Yet, game testing offers a backdoor pass into the game industry.
This pass can eventually lead to rockstar roles such as game designer and lead gameplay programmer.
But what exactly is a game tester? What do they do, and why are they so important in the game industry?
In the following article, I’ll explore these questions and more. So let’s kick off by looking at the life of a game tester.
The Life of a Game Tester Explored
The role of a game tester in the development process is often underestimated and understated.
Yet, in the modern game industry, the game tester plays a vital role in ensuring games fly onto our consoles bug-free and with tight, honed gameplay. Game testers will spend hours searching for bugs, recording where they scuttle about in the game, ready for programmers to stamp them out. Testers also meticulously test all gameplay mechanics to ensure a game is fun to play in all scenarios in the game.
This might sound like hyperbole, but in many ways, the game tester is the most important member of a game development team, for without them, games would be bug-infested, and gameplay would be dull and bloated.
What sort of tasks do game testers have to complete every day? Let’s find out.
Everyday tasks and responsibilities
Game testers have several key tasks and responsibilities they must complete each day.
Below is a list of their main tasks:
- Finding bugs and glitches, recording how to repeat the them in-game
- Testing different areas of the game to make sure that everything works properly
- Creating detailed reports about any issues found in the game and communicating these reports to the development team
- Collaborating with developers and other team members to fix any problems that are identified during testing
- Following test plans and cases to ensure that all aspects of the game have been thoroughly tested
- Keeping up-to-date with the latest trends and methodologies in the gaming industry and staying informed about new testing tools and techniques
- Playing the game as a regular user to make sure that the experience is smooth and enjoyable
- Testing the game’s performance under different conditions, such as different hardware configurations and internet speeds
- Providing feedback on gameplay mechanics and suggesting improvements to enhance the overall user experience.
That’s a lot of tasks that you’ll need to complete if you want to become a game tester.
If after reading that you think game testing is right for you, consider signing up to my FREE Get Into The Game Industry email course, where I outline the fastest and easiest way to become a game tester. Check out what’s included in the course here.
Next, I’ll have a look at what skills and personal traits you’ll need in order to effectively complete these tasks.
Skills and traits required to succeed as a game tester
From my experience, many gamers who get into game testing are shocked by the variety of skills needed to perform the job correctly.
I think most think they can just show up, slip on a pair of headphones, grab a controller, play games and shout out bugs and problems. But this is a false view. Game testing involves large amounts of paperwork to be filled in. Whenever you encounter a bug, there are strict protocols and systems that must be followed to catalogue the bug, record where the bug was spotted, what in-game events led up to the bug, and what direct action triggered the bug.
Every bug and glitch, regardless of size, must have a report filled in for it. Reports are filled in for every bug and glitch, regardless of size.
And a tester can encounter tens, if not hundreds of bugs a day
To record this many bugs in such a systemized manner takes a great number of skills, a number of which I’ve listed below:
- You need to be super attentive to detail to spot even the tiniest issues in the game.
- Analytical skills are essential so that you can troubleshoot and fix issues that you come across while testing.
- Great communication skills are key to effectively convey the bugs you find and provide suggestions for improvement to other team members.
- You need to have a good understanding of game development processes and be knowledgeable about gaming hardware and software.
- Patience and perseverance are critical since game testing can be a repetitive and sometimes tedious process.
- A creative mind is important to think outside the box and identify unusual issues that may crop up in the game.
- You should be passionate about gaming to fully understand the game mechanics, detect gameplay issues, and provide feedback to enhance the player experience.
- Time management skills are essential to make sure that you complete testing within set timelines.
- Being adaptable to new processes and tools is a must-have skill in the ever-changing world of game development.
That’s a lot of skills, right? I bet you didn’t think you’d need so many skills to get into game testing, did you? Well, there’s actually a few more. For an in-depth look at them all, take a look at my Game testing skills article.
Game testing is highly skilled work that takes dedication and determination to succeed. The great thing is all skills above can easily be acquired if you’re willing to focus on each one of them and learn them.
If you’ve got the determination and desire to learn these skills, then becoming a game tester is easily within your grasp.
In conclusion, game testing is a profession that is vital to for quality game development.
However, game testing is often misunderstood by many gamers. While it might seem like the ultimate job, a dream come true for any gamer, the truth is that game testing can be a gruelling, repetitive, and sometimes tedious job. Additionally, unless you have become an ace tester in the industry, the job, at first, offers little security or cash.
However, it is a backdoor pass into the game industry, and it can eventually lead to rockstar roles such as game designer and lead gameplay programmer.
In this article, we explored the life of a game tester, including the main tasks and responsibilities that they have to complete every day. We also looked at the skills and personal traits required to succeed as a game tester. Here’s a quick summary of the main points covered:
- Game testers play a vital role in ensuring games are bug-free and have tight, honed gameplay
- Game testers have several key tasks and responsibilities they must complete each day
- Game testing requires a variety of skills, including attention to detail, analytical skills, communication skills, technical knowledge, patience, creativity, passion for gaming, time management, and adaptability
- All of these skills can be acquired with determination and focus