I’ve been wanting to talk about my job as a Video Games Tester for a long time here on my blog but I never really knew what way to go about it. I decided to see what questions you guys had about my job and the questions I received covered a lot of the topics I wanted to talk about so I thought that would be the best way to go about things.
I started my career as a games tester fresh out of university when I was 23. My boyfriend at the time was working for SEGA as a games tester already and I’d always been that person who could spot problems with films or games a mile off. I was that annoying person who constantly pointed out continuity errors, glitches or ways to improve whatever I was watching or playing. When I finished university SEGA were looking to take some more people on so on a whim I went for a job interview. I found out that evening that I’d got the job and I pretty much started a few days later. It was very much a whirlwind and unexpected career path, but it was a pretty badass job to land.
So, games tester huh, what does that actually mean? Well, what it basically means is that I’m quality assurance tester for video games. This means I work on the game to make sure it’s the best possible experience it can be before it hits the market/consumer. This could mean it looks and sounds the best it possibly can but also that its enjoyable and fun to play. Our aim is to make something as perfect as it can possibly be.
So my general day to day job can vary quite a lot but a pretty standard day is that we will be given a ‘build’ to test. A build is basically just a version of the game. This will constantly be being worked on by programmers, artists, sound engineers etc and everyday they will create a build that has the latest features/fixes in it that we can test. Depending on where we are in a project then depends on what kind of way we ‘test’ something. If a project is pretty early on, we’ll make sure that things function correctly aka it doesn’t crash or freeze, that general features work correctly (if it’s a racing game, the car is actually possible to race around) and basically making sure things arn’t horrifically broken. As the project gets closer to the end of production, this will be the time we’ll be finding and logging bugs so they can be fixed by developers. When these are then fixed in a new build, we will go back and see if they are still present and if not, we can then tick them off from the system that they’re no longer present.
That’s a pretty simple explanation of my job. It’s probably a little different from the idea you have in your head of a bunch of people sat around with headsets on eating snacks and playing GTA all day long right? ha ha. It’s not quite as exciting and glamorous as most people think sadly, it can get very repetitive and boring pretty quickly. Imagine watching the same film 7 times a day, everyday for 5 years, not so exciting anymore. But, generally, it’s a really fun and exciting line of work to be in, specially for a nerd like myself.
1.I think Games QA is quite a hard field to get into, you have to be very lucky that a company is willing to take on ‘new starters’ and train you up, not many companies are like this unfortunately. SEGA however is known for being good at taking on new starters. 2. You can actually do some qualification in Games QA which will certainly help land you a job however I don’t think it’s necessary (I don’t have any). 3. I had always been super into gaming but I had no idea this kind of job existed till I was at uni. 4. The best thing is working on a project that you’ve helped shape, especially when the public love the game. The worst is certainly the times where the job is like living in groundhog day and you’re doing the same thing over and over, this is the main reason I started blogging actually, so I had a creative outlet during those times. 5. I think people think testing is the most amazing job ever, it’s alright, but there are certainly downsides to it.
1. The gaming industry is almost always males which can be quite intimidating sometimes. I’ve always been a tomboy so getting on with guys was never a problem but you certainly have to act a different way. I think being able to banter and give and take a little helps a lot but I absolutely do not accept any form of sexist or harassment behavior, I think that’s really important to notice and report. There are more and more women joining the industry but for reference the company I work at currently is 160 people and there are 10 women, myself included. So they’re very few and far between unfortunately. 2. I actually play quite a mixed variety of games in my spare time, from shooters, Moba’s, episodic to simulators. However to test I seem to always end up on racing games, so that’s where I have most experience. 3. NDA’s (non-disclosure agreements) are pretty normal at most gaming jobs now and I actually find it quite easy not to talk about what I’m working on because besides my husband (who is also in the industry as a designer) my friends don’t really care! haha.
1. If i’m completely honest here, yes. Since starting as a games tester over 5 years ago, I’ve pretty much cut down my game playing time by 75% which is really sad. However the last thing you want to look at is a computer game when you’ve been working on one for 40 hours a week ya’no? I think now I’m just much more picky with what I decide to spend my time on rather than playing stuff for the sake of it.
I actually had a bit of a career crisis a year or so ago but if i’m honest, I think it’s because of the companies I was working for rather than the job itself. I’m so incredibly lucky to have landed a job with one of the best gaming employers in the UK recently (they won an award!) and even after 3 weeks I’m so much happier. I’m really loving my job again at the minute and I can see myself sticking around, especially as they have lots more career progression for me. So yes, I see myself doing this for a while yet!
That’s a brief overview of my job as a games tester. I’ve really simplified some of it because it can be quite complicated and confusing if you don’t get it but I hope it gave you a better understanding of what I get up to! Please, if you have any more question please let me know in the comment box or tweet me on my twitter account and I’ll answer what I can! For those that want to know what games I’ve worked on, the 3 biggest titles I’ve worked on so far are Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, DiRT 4 and F1 2017 where my name can be found in the all the credits!
If you enjoyed reading this post, you might also enjoy my post 5 Video Games That Shaped My Childhood.