Becoming a Video Game Tester: Do You Have What it Takes?

By | October 16, 2014

Photo Credit: Flick User R Pollard

Working as a video game tester sounds like a dream job to many avid gamers. After all, does it get any better than earning a paycheck from playing games? Probably not. However, there’s a lot more to becoming a video game tester than plugging in a controller, kicking back, and battling your way to the finish line. If you’ve ever thought about making the transition from gaming enthusiast to paid video game tester, you’ll need to have the following skills:

Thoroughness and Attention to Detail

Testing is all about the details. As a video game tester you not only have to play games, but pay attention to every detail as you go along. This may mean playing the same level over and over again with different characters, covering every corner of every map, or testing the game against a long list of various settings. As opposed to free gameplay, you’ll generally start off with a set of instructions and it will be your job to execute each test and keep a watchful eye on every detail of the game. When you run into a bug, you’ll then have to meticulously describe how to recreate it, and follow the provided reporting procedures.

Analytical Skills

Though in-depth programming knowledge is generally not required for entry video game testing positions, you need to be able to wrap your head around basic logic structures and have some knowledge of how games are put together. This will help you identify areas where defects are most likely to occur and even determine their source.

Dedication and the Ability to Work Under Pressure

Gaming is a competitive industry and development companies are under constant pressure to release the latest and greatest games as soon as possible. As a tester, this means you must be prepared to work under strict deadlines and long hours on a regular basis.

Soft Skills

Playing video games may seem like a casual, laid-back profession, but the gaming industry is serious business. Testers are expected to adhere to corporate policies, follow instructions, and be team players. Excellent verbal and written skills are an absolute must, as you’ll need them when filing defect reports and meeting with other team members to update them on your progress.

Gaming experience

Above all, the most important prerequisite to becoming a video game tester is significant gaming experience. You should really have a passion for all-things gaming and make an effort to keep up with the latest trends in the industry. While it’s fine to maintain personal preferences for certain types of games, you should be familiar with the major game categories (e.g. action-adventures, first-person shooter, role playing games, simulation, strategy, sports).

Computer and Language Skills

Game play is the most publicized part of the video game testing role, but be prepared to perform other testing tasks more closely associated with traditional software testing. After all, there’s a lot more to a video game than the gameplay itself. You may be asked to test connectivity to the server, speed and performance, and communication interfaces. Language skills are also a huge bonus, as reviewing in-game text and dialogue, manuals, and instructions are also a part of video game testing.

A Final Word on Video Game Testers

Video game testing is a broad role that spans everything from working closely with development teams to test game logic at code level, to localization testing for games being marketed in different languages across various regions of the world. A lot of entry-level video game testing positions are available on a part-time basis, allowing you to earn extra income at hone your skills at the same time. Full-time roles are also available and are a great way to get your foot in the door of the gaming industry and kick off a career in technology.


Category: Mobile and video games trends Quality assurance testing

About Cheylene Thongkham

Cheylene Thongkham is a London-based technical writer and experienced software tester. She earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2007 and an ISTQB certification in 2010. After working as a web application tester in the US, Cheylene assumed the role of Senior QA Analyst at a FTSE 250 company in London where she oversaw testing for mobile websites, business intelligence, and Oracle databases. She is currently working towards becoming an Oracle Certified Professional.

  • Brendon Webb

    For a 15 yr old like myself would want to become a video game tester.What classes should i take to pursue this career?If there is not a certain class what are some interview questions an employee may ask? Please answer these as soon as you can that would be great.Thank You!

  • Any computer science classes would be useful. Anything that helps you understand how software works will help you. The other slightly unexpected advice I can give you is writing classes! A good tester is definitely one who is able to write clearly and convey his message efficiently.