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Video Game Testing

What's It Like To Be a Video Game Tester?

If getting paid to play video games sounds like a dream job, you are probably wondering what it's really like to do it for a living. What are some of the things that real-life video game testers do every day?

It's true that you'll be the first to play new games. However, debugging and playing for fun are very different experiences. Working on a video game's quality assurance, your job is to find bugs, which are problems with the design or code of the game that keep it from working as designed. Here are some common ways testers check for bugs:

  • Are old bugs still there? A tester will see whether or not bugs that were previously found were fixed correctly, by replaying the problematic areas of the game. For example, if a character was getting stuck in a certain area and the game's developers reported that this bug was fixed, you would double-check whether or not that character can still become trapped in that area.
  • Does it match the manual? Testers compare the features and functionality of a game to the documentation. For example, if the game is designed to allow a maximum number of items in a character's inventory, you will try adding more items to your inventory.
  • Murphy's Law. If you're not familiar with the aphorism Murphy's Law, it means: what can go wrong, will. Someone playing the game will do something strange that was hard for the game's designers to anticipate. A tester has to try every possible thing that a player could do, to see if it works in the way that the game is designed to function. For example, in a tower defense game, you will want to see how every possible tower interacts with enemies, not just the ones that you personally would choose based on your preferred strategy. A good tester will anticipate the behavior of diverse users, because a quality game will be able to accommodate users with different skill levels and personalities.

So is video game testing a dream job? It's not for everyone, and it's not necessarily what you might expect, if you're just looking to be the first to play a hot new game. But if you're detail-oriented, tenacious, and you love seeing if you can break things that are supposed to unbreakable, this might just be the job for you.

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