Playing video games for a living makes one think that this is the ideal job. People who witnessed the advent of computer my site in the late eighties to early nineties have probably dreamed of having a game testing job. Who wouldn’t desire a job that compensates personal enjoyment?
Almost everyone loves video games. The days of video games confined to clunky consoles that cannot be taken on a plane trip or any trip for that matter are long gone. When people choose to play games, they use portable gaming devices such as PSP Vita, or even their android smartphones or tablets.
Now that video games are competing with so many other personal entertainment types, a freemium model is now widely utilized in PC games and mobile gaming, which has given video games a boost. This is great news for those seeking to be video game professionals and they are willing to do what it takes to secure their place in the industry. One of the fastest ways to gain a foothold in the video game industry is to apply for a quality assurance testing (game testing) position.
It is important to note that those testing a game are always separate from the team that codes or programs the game itself. Therefore, the bug-tracking phase is accomplished by quality assurance testers (game testers).
Further, game testers are tasked by companies and game studios with presenting bug reports on a regular schedule. For example, if one is testing a game and has submitted only a few bug reports for all the months in the company, one should not anticipate superiors giving glowing reviews.
Since communication with the programming department is in writing, excellent written communication skills are needed. Without good writing skills, one will not thrive or survive in this field at all.
It is paramount to remember that game testers are not very special in the video game production world. The reason is that there is an abundance of potential testers, and if one leaves, another will quickly fill the void. So, if advancement is desired, one must demonstrate an above average or better game tester ability for superiors.
Here are the hard facts:
- Survival Skills. In order to survive in the professional quality assurance testing (game testing) field one will require skills of the trade that can be obtained through formal training (on-the-job training) and through continuous experience.
Paramount to playing video games is experience. However, it is not the be-all and end-all of game testing. It is just a small aspect that will assist in the performance of a game tester job.
- Most Important Asset. The most important asset of a game tester is the ability to perform on the job. How good is one in bug tracking newly developed games? One cannot astonish lead game testers and quality assurance managers just by simply telling them that as a 15 year-old one was a programming whiz. No matter how true this may be.
Game tester effectiveness lies in the capability to discover the bugs that may arise from many combinations that exist within specific game segments.
A tester is not assigned the whole game, but only a specific segment in which to discover bugs. This when tester effectiveness will be scrutinized.
- Be Prepared. Being prepared will greatly improve the chances of getting hired. To gain proof of time spent and monetary investment, one should enroll in courses just before applying for a game testing position. One cannot tell employers that they are well versed on game testing through reading. Interviewers will not accept this as experience and will end in one going home with a broken heart. It is important to be aware of this now, in order to prepare for what lies ahead. It is not easy to get in, but it is not impossible either.
- Professional and Passionate. One will need to demonstrate to superiors not only professional performance, but also an extreme passion for video games. This will enable one to advance above the average game testers.
- People often have trouble understanding the word “tradeoff”, sure enough it’s easy enough to understand as exchange but in today’s corporate parlance it is meant as exchange of one commodity as a cost for another. I was playing Final Fantasy’s Dissidia on the good old PSP yesterday when I marveled at the game’s replay value, yes I have spent over 50 hours on it already, which is what this entire topic is all about.
Normally if you look at the oldest games like Mario and Dave, they had one thing unanimously common, addiction to it. Not that I am propagating obsession towards anything, however this is what the current paradigm of gaming has come down to; a commodity. I have always been a gamer, I will not deny that and this is exactly what my contention with gaming today is. The first games had a lot of things that hooked people up but most of all it was about the level of engagement that the player had with the game environment or the “world” of the game. And this engagement has little to do with the 3D graphics or the extensive options available.
Let us take a look at the progression; first it was the advent of the simple arcade type games which were phenomenal to a certain point. Kept players hooked and introduced a whole new boom of media into the world. This was where literally every child was begging for the Atari systems and your Pentium II and III machines had Sega and NeoGeo emulators installed (mine still has both installed by the way) and game play elements were about difficult commands mixed in with clever sequences. Take this forward a bit further and the same two systems incorporated decent mixed stories and continuity in the games enhance the media capabilities being explored in the two avenues. The fighting game series KOF is an ardent testament to that and from there came the further boom of turn based strategy and role playing games which became akin to “user controlled novels” on computers. This adaptability of both game-play and media can be called as the turning curve of the gaming industry.
Because this was where a lot of business heads realized that the games could be used to simulate a lot of things, pretty much everything so the potential as a business commodity was obvious even from then on. The progress from then on was about enhancing the visual effects of the game, the additives were obvious the visuals needed more work so in came the influx of investment in gaming studios and the push for 3d graphics into gaming. That apex can be called as the secondary curve because once that was established, the potential for business gain via games became second to almost none. Hollywood movies will tell you the story of boom and fall without fail but games have the replay factor attached to them irrespective of their audience size that guarantees reward.
And this replay factor was cashed in next. We all can see the online capabilities being offered by games which as also paved way to players just buying the next powerup or update online. The concept of “buying all” is where we can point and say that gaming has devolved. So at a point where gaming was fun with added complexity like Baldur’s Gate, Ys, Metal Gear Solid, the games went on to become more about commodity value.
The biggest factor in all this is mobile gaming of course and here I point at the smartphone games which are purely centered on time killing. The problem occurs when the majority of the smartphone gamers are not regular gamers but more so there to just kill time. So when you give a game like Subway Surfers online buying advantages for the “normal” people, some level of competition envelopes between the console/PC games and the phone games. The niches are different, the categories are different, and the size is different. A game like Temple Run cannot be compared to Farcry 3 but ultimately when the games become about money then these things sidetrack and mix in.