Introducing to game testing


Game Tester

Aaaah playing games, you have been spending countless of your life playing video games, and they gave you some of the unforgettable memories. Be it playing with your friends, or by yourself, you have had a blast, it was awesome, you couldn’t detach yourself from playing, and you wish if you can play any time.

Well, here comes your wish, a job that actually make you play a game, a very very very long time, sounds too good to be true? Might as well be careful what you wish for, as it might not be as nice nor easy as you thought, because everything, has a price.

About game testing

Is hard to make a video game without bugs, or not, it is impossible to make a video game without bugs, or at least what I believe, not like the game must be ridded with bugs to be a video game. What I want to say is that a video game is a hard nut software to program, games usually give you much more control over the software, in one way or another, way more than your usual computer programs, especially games with large number of features, particularly 3D games, with embed physics engine. Games are meant to emulate the real world, but it can only at the best emulate, and not recreate the real World fully, not it doesn’t mean that games can’t i.e. mimic real World’s physics, it is just it comes with a great cost, and most of modern computers aren’t being able to take all of that, not without some explosions, I presume. Unless you have a NASA’s computer, oh man that would be so frigging awesome, but coming back to Earth, with so many equations and functions, something is bounds to be gone wrong, actually, a lot of them, and finding them is not an easy task.

Game testers

Like every piece of software, it is impossible to release a product without having a quality assurance process, games are not different. As a matter of fact, players are actually have a lot less endurance toward buggy video games, compared to other kind of software. Nowadays players are very demanding, a slight graphic glitch, physic based bugs could lead to an army of angry gamers, or rage-quitters, the latter are actually pretty fun.

Enter the game testers, as much of I know, there is quite much required from an usual software tester, knowing how to write test cases, how to use test tools etc. For the game testers, a thing mostly required though is… being an experienced gamer, and that would be very essential, with you had to have played through a lot of games.

Why is that so? It is because some way, the best video game testers are actually gamers, gamers love to find exploit in the games, most of them are very nitpicking with their games, they can find very small problems that even game creators wouldn’t image to exist, and better, there is an army of them, and who wouldn’t want to play games for money, it is like a dream.

Game Testing

As you know, game testers usually have a background of playing variety of different games on multiple platforms, but obviously it isn’t an only requirement, they must be able to notate and reference any problem with detailed report with deadlines, the ability to play through a game on highest difficulty is also required, which could become very tedious, having to play a hard part of a game over and over again.

Usually testing starts as soon as the coding is being written and increases toward the end phase of development. As the game approaches the alpha stage, more through testing and more staff would be assigned for testing. At this phase, tester feedback may determine the final decisions if features that would be presented in the game, with some features may have to be removed, for the game to work properly. Usually bugs in the game are divided in to a few categories:

  • The critical bugs that cause game crashes, often rends the game unplayable, those must be carefully taken care, and as soon as possible, since they prevent the game to be shipped.

  • Another are essential bugs that require much attention, but they don’t really cause the game unplayable, still with many of these bugs, can lead to critical type of bug.

  • And small bugs, those could be fixed if possible, or control them so they don’t appear too often, it is quite hard to fix all the bugs in the game, some of them are allowed to exists, as long as they won’t interfere too much with game experience.

A job as a game tester

A game QA usually have lesser technical experiences than normal software QAs, many testers have next to none experiences with only high school diploma and no technical expertise. Game testing most often is a full-time job for experienced testers, however, many are hired only as temporary staff, in example beta testers, and those are often students, or part-time workers.

As said before, while the job may sound too good, it is not really about getting paid to play games all day. Many of testing process involving having to repeat one of game process over and over again. This can be compared to watching a part of your favorite movie, even if it was something that you love, having to watch it around 12 hours a day, every day and month, slowly it will become something you hate.

Also, testers can’t choose what kind of games they will play, it could be very boring for them to play again and again a game they don’t like. Some people may even abandon gaming for good with all the frustration process and repetitive nature of game testing.

Why bother?

After reading all of that you think about why torture yourself with all of this? Game testing is a pretty good start point to get into the video game business, you can get used to game development process, gain experiences and get yourself into a game development position. Also it could be a trial time when you could decide if you really want to get into this business or not.

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