How to Become a Video Game Tester from Home and Make Money

Are you a gaming enthusiast and want to make money gaming? If YES, here is a complete guide on how to become a video game tester from home with no experience.

Work at Home, WAH, video game, Testing Jobs, skill, Featured make-money
christianladewig0 (CC0), Pixabay

The job of a video game tester has always held a certain appeal for people who love playing video games and people who hope to work from home. Being a video game tester goes far beyond playing video games, it is a very viable way to make some money, and it’s certainly a common way for newbies to break into the game industry.

The fact still remains that game testing can be highly challenging. Being a very good player in a multiplayer game does not necessarily confer on you video game testing abilities. This is a highly desirable job with relatively-low educational requirements, and most people actually use it as a springboard for a career in the video game industry. In fact, it’s the opportunities, not the pay nor the “play,” that attracts most people to the position. Even though the field of game testing does not require a lot of educational qualifications, a bachelor’s degree in game design, computer science, graphic communication, or a related field can be considered as a competitive edge.

Duties of a Video Game Tester

Game testers are tasked with duties such as playing through all levels of a game to uncover bugs and glitches, then writing brief memos to the development team describing the issues so that they can fix it before releasing the game. After the development team must have fixed the bug or glitch, it is still up to the game tester to confirm that the bug was actually satisfactorily fixed.

The job of a video game tester is not just to leisurely peruse through the game but to “break” the game. They purposefully move through the video game, playing all the levels, going through all the menus, and using all the different characters and options with the goal of uncovering flaws in the system. The more thoroughly you analyze a game, the more valuable you will be to the development team.

Even though some games testers are required to work in-house for major companies, many can work from the comfort of their homes. This means that many testers have no daily schedule and no boss hovering over their work. However there is a catch, once an assignment is given, you are expected to complete that a specified date. How you meet those deadlines is entirely up to you. Often the game developer will set individual milestones, breaking down the work into smaller segments.

Job Description of a Video Game Tester

A game tester’s work area is in front of a television or computer screen. Like most work-from-home professionals, the need for a quiet area is essential, allowing a game tester to give all their attention to the work at hand.

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Almost all work-from-home video game testers will have to provide their own equipment, meaning you will have to purchase consoles, computers, controllers, and other products in order to complete the work and earn an income.

A video game tester is expected to take a wide range of actions in the game to identify any bugs or glitches. Essentially, a bug is something wrong with the programming, and there can be a huge variety of them. A bug comes when a player gets trapped in a certain spot, or when a movement graphic doesn’t work properly on a specific character.

There are tons and tons of possible glitches and bugs that could be in a game, so it is up to games testers to detect and report these issues to the developers for correction so as to help the final customers achieve a flawless gaming experience.

One of the main tasks of a video game tester is to use the game in as many possible ways, taking actions that few users will ever make. This might sound time-consuming and repetitive (and it is), but that would be your job.

In some cases, games testers may be tasked with running through matrix testing. Matrix testing is often used in fighting games like Mortal Kombat, Injustice: Gods among us, Street Fighter or Tekken. Say a fighting game has 20 different characters and 20 different levels.

When doing matrix testing, the video game tester would need to play as each character vs. each character (including Character 1 vs Character 1) on all 20 levels. That’s 8,000 different matchups! That’s just one example of the highly-detailed, often monotonous work that video game testers have to do.

Advantages of Being a Video Game Tester

Here are some advantages of choosing a career as a game tester.

  • You get to work from home, choose when to work and have all the personal freedom that comes with working from your house. Many people find this to be one of the top reasons to choose a video game tester career.
  • You will get to have access to new games before the general populace. While you can’t really call it “playing” video games, you do get the chance to use new games that others may not experience for years. If you’re a video game junky, this is probably one of the biggest perks of becoming a game tester.
  • A career as a game tester can serve as an entry into the gaming industry. While the position is low on the experience level and pay scale, it can lead to higher positions in video game development and design.
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Requirements to be a Video Game Tester

1. Skills and Abilities: there are a lot of basic skills and abilities that are very important to have in order to succeed as a video game tester but probably the most important attribute is a foundational experience with video games. You need to understand the top genres of games, know what makes for a good video game, and grasp the essentials of game play. Knowing video games, however, is not the only skill you will need.

It is also necessary to have very good written and communication skills in order to be a good video game tester. You should also be able to writer in a clear, brief and unambiguous manner when writing about glitches and bugs and how you discovered them. Your clear writing will give developers a clear path to addressing the issue and creating a fix. You don’t have to be a poetic, colorful author; you need to be a clear, concise, and detailed communicator.

You will also need to be able to understand basic troubleshooting. Even though the task of solving the glitches is not up to you, you still have to recreate, often dozens of times, the specific sequence that led to the glitch. Finding a bug can be simple, but recreating the steps to reproduce the result can be a challenge.

2. Personality Traits: a good game tester should have an eye for details. Gaming proficiency is required, but you should be able to spot glitches that the average gamer will not be able to see. A good game tester will have to spot these tiny details and point them out to the developer. No glitch is too small and as such it should be detected and reported. You can fully expect to be tested on details when interviewing for a game testing job.

Like it has been mentioned before, video game testing can be mind numbingly repetitive and as such you should have a high tolerance for repetitive task. You may have to play a level over and over again, attempting to perform every possible task or interact with every computer-based character, walking through all the possible actions in order to make sure they function properly.

Yet another important personality trait that a good video game tester must have is that he or she must be a team player and have a strong work ethic. The ability to meet deadlines and work independently will also contribute to a long video game testing career.

Educational Requirement to Become a Video Game Tester

There is no specific educational requirement that is needed to become a video game tester neither is there any special school that you need to attend. However, there a few paths that you can take to increase your chances of landing a job as a video game tester. Game testers are generally educated in either game design or in something related to video graphics, computer science, or other software-related fields.

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Each of these educational paths will cover how programs and coding comes together to make a technology like video games, websites and online apps. You’ll also learn why certain programs behave the way they do, and how applications are designed from the ground up. This is highly technical education, but it may also involve theoretical and artistic concepts like color composition, image balance, texture, or user behavior.

Possible degrees for video game testers include:

  • Game design
  • Software development
  • Software design
  • Software engineering
  • Computer programming
  • Computer science
  • Graphic communication
  • Software quality assurance
  • Software testing

How Much Do Video Game Testers Make?

Testers are paid either based on the hours of work they put in or on an annual salary. Either way, the pay rate can vary a lot — it’s based on factors such as which game company you’re working for, what geographical location the studio is located within, and how many years of experience you have as a game tester or a game testing lead.

Do I Need to Move to a Certain Location to Be a Video Game Tester?

Most game testing jobs are near the larger game studios, which happen to be in the larger cities around the world. You may be able to find testing jobs in smaller towns and cities, but if you’re positive that you want to break into the game industry, then you’ll have the best chances of finding work if you can move to one of the major cities for game development.

If the idea of moving to a different city (or even a different country) freaks you out, I urge you to keep an open mind. Many people moved to a new town to start their first video game job, so there’s already a support network in place to help you out. The company that is hiring you might even offer financial assistance to help you with your moving costs.

Where Can I Get Hired as a Video Game Tester?

Almost all game studios need testers and some of the gaming industry giants such as Nintendo, EA, and Microsoft employ hundreds of game testers either directly or through temp agencies. Like any job, you can start by searching for job postings near your city using the video game job search tool. You can also search on popular tech-industry job sites like Monster.com, or on job aggregator sites like Indeed.com.

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