Is Working As A Games Tester Really That Fun?

The gaming sector is worth billions of dollars each year to the economy, and is a serious business. If a game is released with bugs, glitches, and errors, it will cost the game publisher money. Critical reviews and poor feedback for the gaming community can destroy sales and damage profitability. The game tester, more generally known as the quality assurance tester is tasked with identifying all errors, problems, and anything that can affect playability prior to the game being released.. Following this process means that the final release is playable, bug free, and most importantly of all, gets great scores and feedback online. Great scores and feedback = more money for the games publisher. Game testers are the last chance for bugs and glitches to be picked up prior to release, and therefore are vitally important to the games publisher.

Unfortunately, games publishers are not going to pay you money to just play the games the way you play them during your leisure time. You will nearly always be working on a set project with very clear guidelines concerning what specific parts of the game you are required to test. This is how the QA tester, earns his cash. Essentially, you will be trying to break the game.

For example, I once worked on a first person shooting game, testing one specific stage. My jobs was to test the map , which involved trying to access areas of the map I was not suppose to be able to access. I would also shoot at the walls and objects with different weapons, and try to climb the terrain to get over the boundary. The goal of this testing session was to check whether or not the map boundaries were working properly, and whether other in game objects reacted propery when fired upon.

Other examples of projects are testing a track in a racing game, driving round it in different directions, at different speeds, driving into the boundaries, and generally trying to wreak havoc and find something that wasn’t supposed to be there. Some additional taks you will be required to perform are checking loading times, and that levels load correctly, and making sure that things such as lighting effects, and the weather, are displayed properly. Concentration is essential, as you will need to ensure that no problems are missed, as these will negatively effect the gaming experience for customers.

Essentially, you will not be playing the game for personal fun or enjoyment. You will be conducting yourself in a thorough professional manner, following your project guidelines, and thoroughly testing every aspect of the game as stated in the project. This can become somewhat tedious, and many people tire of the job after just a few months. You could end up in a situation where you are playing the same game for weeks, even months. You may find that by the time you have finished working on a particular game, you never want to play it again! Quite often, game testers will rack up hundreds of hours of game play on just one project.

Once a bug has been found, the video game tester will have to complete a short report on the bug, including details of how it was located, and how often it occurs. All glitches are categorised according to the impact they have on the gaming experience. The most serious bugs are those that cause crashes and game freezes. On the other end of the scale are bugs that may be down to personal opinion, for example a video game tester thinking that a particular graphic “doesn’t look right” or an animation that seems odd or out of the ordinary. Quite often, minor bugs and errors will be left in the game, particularly if a deadline is looming.

The database of clitches is constantly being checked, and only when all the serious issues are resolvved is the final product released for sale. It is very rare for games to be released with major problems, as publishers know full well the damage this can do to their reputation.

Thanks to the video game tester, a clean, polished product is usually released and fans and publishers alike are kept happy.
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