The Role of a Computer Games Tester
A computer game tester isn't just about playing video games all day - it can be a demanding role that takes a lot of commitment, repetitiveness and perseverance.
An alternative way of making a living off of playing computer games is to become a live streamer on broadcast services like Twitch or Youtube. Though you will need to have built up a large audience before publishers and developers can start paying you to play their games to help market them, it can certainly be a rewarding experience.
However, that really is a luck of the draw and game streaming is a very tricky area. So, the only other alternative is to look into computer game testing.
What is Computer Game Testing?
In short, it's to break a game that's in development and to report to the dev team how it was done. The process needs to be repeated until the game is no longer breakable - or at least very difficult to break.
The one thing to know when looking for computer games testing is that you’re not just going to be playing the game. You’re going to extensively test, explore and do everything in your control to find anything that affects the gameplay, visuals or experience.
This doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, but it won’t be the same experience as a normal gaming session that you may be used to. A computer game tester will have to play the game in many different ways to ensure all possibilities are explored in an area so a game-breaking bug or glitch is brought to the attention of the developers before release. A glitch in game testing is usually any bug that affects the gameplay through a graphical error or malfunction.
As you play the game you will be reporting down any bug, glitch or irregularity that you come across whilst testing the game. This is normally reported via bug tracking software or a content management system.
Computer Game Tester Responsibilities
A computer game tester’s main responsibility is to ensure the quality assurance of a product by playing the game in as many ways as possible. Here are some other duties and activities that a tester may be involved with:
- Play and test the game repeatedly in different ways and situations
- Learn to be repetitive as well as unexpected. Basically you're trying to break the game!
- Test different versions of the game including PC and console versions if available
- Concentrate on certain areas of the game and try every possibility available
- Compare new versions of game and replicate previous bugs to see if they have been fixed
- Play game using different settings and options if available
- Check for typos, spelling mistakes and grammar.
- Report any error codes that may pop up and report them to bug tracking software
- Proof any other documentation with game including manuals, instructions and other booklets
- Understand the difference between reporting a bug and reporting a feature
It’s important to build and maintain a decent working relationship with the development team. Although some game development teams are open to suggestions from their testers, other developers and programmers will only require you to report broken game elements as they will need to reach their release date deadline.
Skills and Qualities of a Game Tester
This is one of the few job roles available where gaming skills would be considered an advantage. However, there are several other qualities and skills that would best suit a computer games tester.
- Excellent problem solving skills and a methodical approach to computer games
- Knowledge of computer games and the industry
- Understanding of Quality Assurance processes
- Able to work under pressure and meet deadlines
- Strong attention to detail and patience for repetitive work
- Flexible working and the ability to adapt to different processes
- Persistence and perseverance
- Strong computer literacy skills
How much does a Computer Games Tester earn?
Computer game testers can earn a salary anywhere between £15,000 and £19,000. The amount is dependent upon a number of factors, one of which is location. It is not uncommon for computer game testers in London to be paid more.