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The Joy and Challenge of Being a Video Game Tester

 
 

Testing | Gabriela Elena Miroiu |
25 January 2023

Video games are experiences rather than just a piece of software. They are intended to trigger a particular emotion. To transport the player to a distinct, unique mental space. The newest generations’ preferred pastime is playing video games. In general, humans love to play and are natural gamers!

Because of their passion and love for video games, many people believe that becoming a game tester is a privilege and a luxury that only a select few fortunate individuals can enjoy – and that it is a simple and delicious duty that is made even better by the fact that you get paid for it. The truth is not as simple: a professional game tester’s existence is complicated and frequently challenging due to both the nature of video games and how the business has developed.

I want to share with you some information about the work of a game tester: what I do, how I use manual and automated testing and, ultimately, what I’ve discovered by testing games. Press any button to continue!

WHY BECOME A GAME TESTER?

Being a game tester can be fun and rewarding in addition to being a way to earn a living. You’ll often have access to the newest titles, and you’ll get an inside look at the gaming business. Testing video games may also appeal to your skills and interests, especially if you appreciate discovering new worlds, paying attention to detail, and thinking strategically. You’ll also get to use the most recent platforms, like PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, etc., allowing you to enjoy the most high-end of video games.

Being a game tester can lead to a variety of employment prospects if your long-term goal is to work in the gaming business, including game creation, visual design, quality assurance engineering, and project management.

Testing video games is also challenging since the testing scope expands to include 4D (adding the desired feelings the player should experience) and demands the tester to be conscious of the entire context, not just specific features of the game. That includes graphics, sound, music, game flow, game design, game balance, storytelling, performance, and of course the game mechanics as a whole. Focusing on all of these elements at once and determining if the game “feels correct” is the toughest challenge in my job.

Finding a game’s weaknesses is, in my opinion, the second-biggest headache right now. Many gamers strive to test a game’s limits and find shortcuts, and a significant number of them will attempt to manipulate, exploit, or hack the game – put simply, they cheat. And that will harm other gamers’ experiences and can directly affect the profits of your business.

WHAT DOES A GAME TESTER DO?

Testers for video games perform various crucial duties. Most importantly, testers must approach the games and gameplay differently than they would when playing for pure amusement. In this approach, they can spot technical and creative issues that might have an adverse impact on the user experience, such as:

  • When a player gets stuck in a game’s environment
  • When a motion graphic malfunctions
  • Any time the controls don’t feel natural
  • The game’s less entertaining sections
  • Uncertainty regarding the goal, the general idea of the game, or both

Game testers may be requested to complete specific actions, such as turning the game on and off, downloading games while playing other games, playing the game on various platforms and devices, and reproducing glitch-causing sequences, in order to find these issues.

You can have a significant impact on the gaming industry and community by working as a game tester. Before games are released, testers assist developers in finding and fixing bugs and other aspects that may cause issues. In addition, costs are greatly reduced when post-release errors are avoided. Ultimately, effective testing enhances the overall quality of the game and user pleasure, paving the way for the economic success of the game.

And one of the most intriguing parts of the job: the games you test may go on to become classics that thrill and inspire gamers for ages!

HOW DO WE TEST GAMES? AUTOMATION VS MANUAL TESTING

With such a range of responsibilities on the game tester’s shoulders, let’s take a brief look on how we test games and one of the major decisions: whether to go for automated or manual tests. For a few years now, software testing has frequently been automated, which has sped up the creation of apps and computer software. However, since testing video games is often quite complex, automated testing is not always an option.

Automation cannot be used everywhere since games have interactive material and live player engagement. Sanity checks and then regression tests, as necessary, are the tests that are advised to be included in an automated set.

However, artificial intelligence (AI) is altering the playing field, quite literally, since it is capable of object recognition in a manner that procedural automation technologies are not. AI testing can dynamically respond to changes in the game by not having hard-coded steps.

Manual testing has the benefit of pinpointing issues that are hard to reproduce, something which an automated test couldn’t do as it can only generate two answers: either it works or it doesn’t, which translates to a reproduction rate of either 100% or none at all. Manual testing also allows the tester to come up with suggestions that could improve the overall game experience, like solutions for balancing issues, for example.

WOULD YOU MAKE A GOOD GAME TESTER?

I love my work as a game tester – I’ve learned and enjoyed myself so much!

If I were to make a list of job requirements, it might look something like this:

  • Good attention to detail is needed to spot bugs and flaws.
  • Adaptability is necessary. You need to be flexible as plans can change every day
  • Reasonable motor skills will come in handy. You don’t really need to be a skilled gamer, as most of the time you will be testing basic functions, like walking or jumping or reloading, but being able to use all the controls is important.
  • Have good oral and written communication.
  • Have a tolerance for repetitive and tedious tasks.
  • Bonus: No prior testing experience needed – game testing can be learned from scratch.

Finally, keep in mind that the gaming industry is untamed and expanding at a breakneck pace. There will always be much more to it than what I have shared with you, including my experiences and what I know from friends and co-workers.

If you love games as much as I do and are thinking about working as a professional game tester, I say go for it! Win this game!

Gabriela Elena Miroiu

QA Test Lead

Despite attending an art high school, Gabriela had a deeper interest for computers, so she began an IT career, encompassing positions as QA tester, QA analyst, and QA test lead for video games and banking applications. Elena truly enjoys video games, which has aided in her professional development. Even after switching to software testing, she never gave up on gaming as her passion. Gabriela often spends her free time with friends playing board games, watching comedies, or trying new recipes while sipping wine and listening to music.

 

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