Game Testing Career

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#1 Edited by scottt140 (9 posts) -

I've done a little research on it, but I was wondering if anyone has any first hand knowledge.

What type of people do they look for? Do they only want elite, super gamers or do they also want people who's gaming skills are more average? Personally, my gaming skills are pretty average. I die a lot and I never play online because I just get slaughtered, but I never give up. I'm usually a normal difficulty player. Only if I really, really like a game will I go back and play a game on the harder settings.

Do you have extensive computer knowledge? Do they only want aspiring programmers and such?

Thanks for any insight you might have to share.

#2 Posted by MonsieurX (29157 posts) -

They need people that won't get tired of playing the same level of a kiddy game over and over

#3 Edited by osan0 (12583 posts) -

I did a bit of gaming QA and still work in software QA (not gaming).

game testing is nothing like game playing. 2 different things.

you dont just run through a game and give it the green light. every element of the system needs to be tested both in isolation and working with other systems.

You could be running up against all the borders in a level to see if there are any gaps. then running against the walls. then shooting the walls and counting the bullt holes. then looking at them to see if they dissapear (if they are supposed to dissapear). you will do this over and over again in slightly different ways (one run could involve just running. the next could involve jumping up against border, the next could be reversing into them and so on).

then you could be looking at character models in isolation to see if something looks really weird or to see if there are any gaps in the texturing.

then there is testing the game mechanics. gamers dont tend to see it but a tester will see the game in debug mode (some PC games allow people to see this and cheats like god mode and no clip originate from testing). the spec for damage might say if i hit someone in the head i cause 50 damage. so i shoot someone in the head and see if the game registers 50 damage. then i check torso, legs and so on. my opponent would be a completely still model. other things like movement speed in every direction, turning rate and so on also need to be tested. what if i flick the analogue sticks rather than move them will the game behave? what if i press all the buttons at the same time on the controller or mash the keyboard?

all the data the game runs needs to be tested and validated. not doing so leads to an obsidian or bethesda game :P (in fairness testing games like fallout and skyrim can be really tough.)

then outisde forces need to be tested. what if i play the game in windowed mode on the PC (i am playing f1 2013 at the moment....someone didnt test that. or maybe they did and they just didnt fix it :P)? what if i press the home button on the xbox? what if i am in the middle of a level and there is a power cut? what if a friend wants to voice chat while i am playing a game on the PS4?

speaking of skyrim.....if i was testing a quest for example i would first go through the test as a player...see if there are any issues (thats a smoke test. if that doesnt work then there is no point even testing that quest any further). then i would reset and go to the dungeon the quest takes place in, clear it out and then start the quest. then i would start the quest then kill the NPC that gave it to me and run through the quest and return. then, if applicable, i would kill the NPC i was supposed to meet in the dungeon. reset, play the same quest but this time get the item (yes there is an item :P) and sell it then try to get my reward without the item in my inventory. then, just for the heck of it, i would get the quest, talk to the quest giver again and see if they will reward me without me actually doing anything. i am sure there is more testing that could be done (what if i go off and complete 50 other quests beofre getting back to that one? what if, at some stage in the game, there is a faction shift that causes that NPC to dissapear? what if 2 quests take place in the same dungeon?).

then there is the gameplay testing and balancing. this can be a bit more like game playing but its still a lot more methodical. you will look for exploits like snaking in mario kart or a one hit kill wonder with a certain assault rifle under certain conditions. this is impossible to get absolutely right without millions and millions of hours of testing...but its still important, especially in competative MP games, to ensure the game is somewhat balanced at launch. in SP games its also importantt to test the difficulty is as expected by the developers/publisher. they usually get target audiences to do this though. so if its a game for children then they will get children to try it and monitor how it goes. its very hard for somone who has been playing games for years to gauge difficulty. what could be easy for them could be a stiff challenge for a new gamer. however a tester would test the game to make sure the difficulty settings are being applied correctly.

so its not really like gaming at all. its a lot more methodical. you need great attention to detail and be able to creatively break things. sometimes you get a worksheet of things to check (shoot someone in the they get 50 points of damage? no? bug) but you also need to be able to think a bit outside the box and think of other things that could break the game.

the other thing to keep track of is expected output. sometimes it could be vague (if i mash the keyboard its OK for the menu screen to jump around...but the game should not crash). should the quest be marked as failed if i kill the NPC? should the quest be removed from the journal is there is a faction shift? when i complete what should happen? so if i finish the skyrim quest just checking to see if it gets a tick is not enough. is the journal updated with the correct text? has the reward been given to the player? is the NPC still behaving normally? has any faction bonus been assigned? are there any triggers the completion of this quest should set off. were they set off?

there is also load testing. if the game is supposed to support 16 players in every map then you test the game with 16 players in every map and you try to put it under the most demanding conditions (smoke bombs everywhere, all 16 people standing next to each other and looking at each a smoky room.....with windows...n stuff).

player skill isnt important. as i said...god mode and no clip. if you are not testing player damage or game balancing then you will probably be using it.

You dont need to be an aspiring programmer either. it can be a gateway to programming but its not a requirement (unless the job spec says otherwise). they are two different skills. but the knowledge you get from testing can help on the programming side if you wish to go that route.

but the main thing to remember is that testing games is not like playing games at all. just playing a game may help with the games balancing a bit (not many exploits will be caught though) but itll do nothing for the games robustness and stability. so many bugs will get through if a game is just played normally and then you end up with X rebirth (i do wonder if that was tested at all).

the other thing to rememeber is that you wont always be testing fun games. you could be testing barbies dream house something something or dora the destroyer (has to be made :P) on a vtech. it wont be all AAA COD and would be very lucky to get a game like that.

#4 Edited by IMAHAPYHIPPO (2555 posts) -

It's not as fun as it sounds You're playing broken versions of games in small, confined segments of the game hundreds of times. And you're getting paid less than a teacher to do so.

#5 Posted by yngsten (188 posts) -

If you wanna play games as a job I would rather aspire to become a gaming journalist than a "bugbitch". This way you can play the game even though you'll have to remain as objective as possible and keep the critical eye intact while you do so. If you don't have what it takes to become a journalist, you could try to get through the needle eye in other places of the industry sound/programming/3D however that would require skill, expertise and always staying on top to compete with others for a place. Turning a hobby into a job isn't always synonymous with fun for everyone, the hard work it takes to make it in a niche could take away what made it fun in the first place.

#6 Posted by donmuath (53 posts) -

@osan0: Wow, that was a very detailed and interesting read, thanks for the insight.

#7 Edited by DontReviveMeBro (7 posts) -

I did some consumer acceptance testing (CAT) very boring work. They people were cool. It was temporary thought so after like 3-5 months you go on a long break then they call if they need you.

I did this for a 3rd party and they worked with a major company.

#8 Edited by dbtbandit67 (353 posts) -

I was a game tester for about 6 months. It's not as enjoyable or even as easy to get into as you would think.

Game testing jobs are seasonal, and many companies only hire on a part-time and temporary basis (i.g. You are a tester for Cod: Ghosts, the project ends, the studio won't necessarily pick you up for another project, it's back to LinkedIn to see who's hiring for QA). Right now is kind of a weird time in the industry with the transition to the next consoles. But generally I think the future looks bright. You typically will have a hard time finding work in the winter while work will pick back up in the summer, and it'll be painstakingly difficult for you to find anything paid out the gate with zero experience.

The hours are also very rough and the job gets very old very fast. You're not going to be testing Titanfall or Destiny, out the gate you're going to be testing lots of shitty mobile and web based games, because that's probably where the most QA work is at right now. And if you do get something on consoles you are doing very repetitive and cerebral tasks to try to intentionally generate bugs and glitches. It's a bit of a numbers game because they want to see how many bugs you can find, and some companies will mandate quotas. It's also easy to get cabin fever very fast.

If you are still serious about getting into QA (Quality Assurance) my advice would be to start off looking for something non-paid at first and see how you like it. A lot of the testers I knew actually enjoyed it. Good for them. I recommend getting something non-paid at first cause it's an easy way to rack up experience, get better at the job, and begin building your LinkedIn contacts. They may attempt to put pressure on you, but believe me, the company knows their being stingy (or they've accepted they have no money) and they know their getting what they pay for, lol, so there isn't as much pressure to rack up high numbers as there would be in a paid position for a big budget game.

If you do become a game tester, never take anything personal (like getting hours cut or a better/more experienced tester getting the gig over you) cause for every game tester you have to have the mindset that you're always looking for work. So even when you're working on a project, always hit up your LinkedIn contacts to see what their working on and if the company their with is looking for anyone. Goodluck!