Gama Daily: Game Industry Salary Survey 2007

Gama article:

The actual survey.

I though programmers’ pay was not too bad with other domains, though location and QoL issues are undocumented, and could be an impact. (like say…how many 50+ hour weeks are they pulling, office space, etc.) Was surprised at artists’ pay.

God that article just reinforces how shitty my pay is at my current job. 8 years experience and I’m not even in the 3-6 bracket yet.

The games industry pays well.

Those averages seem about right. They are much higher in the Bay Area, and I assume much lower in say Wisconsin. I bet Texas is almost exactly in the middle.

Sucks 2B a tester.

Actually, more like “sucks to be a company that doesn’t value quality testers”.

The industry rule is “pay testers like shit, treat them like shit, replace them with new monkeys when they inevitably leave”.

But the simple fact is that good and quality testers are hard to find, and can often be the difference between a good game, and a great game.

Truly, the most undervalued aspect of game development.

Which is why I am not a game tester anymore.

So very true and not just for games, but in business software too.

Bill James once wrote about how there is no such thing as a fast right fielder. You could, in fact, be too fast for the position. The reason is that an outfielder who could throw (like a right fielder) and was fast, would be in center field, the most important position.,M1

A really good game tester is very rare because they are more valuable as producers and, thus, get promoted out of their position.

I don’t know if that analogy works. I know nothing about baseball, but doesn’t a center fielder see more action than a right fielder? So they’ll be able to use that skill more often and thus that makes them more valuable?

Every game goes through Q&A and every time that Q&A process has a real and discernable effect on the game. You’re probably be right that as a producer, they may have more value, but it’s not because you don’t always need good Q&A.

Does that even make sense?

Good Q&A is hugely important. I just think there’s just a bit of a catch-22 involved with finding good testers because of how it is positioned as an entry point into the industry.

Gotcha. You could still make the argument that (depending on how the development processes is structured) on any given game, the producer will be working on it a larger percentage of that process than most testers will. So, that kind of fits the analogy. I don’t know. shrugs

This happens once in a while, but it’s far more likely they’ll get tired of being treated like shit and leave.

The simple fact is that they are awesome exactly where they are, and they needed to be promoted and nurtured within that position. Especially if they are the type of people who like that kind of work, as the best invariably are.

But that’s the problem. People see it as an entry point, and jump in to that position unwilling to do anything other than move out of it as fast as possible.

A lot of companies nowadays hire testers only on the condition that you agree not to move out of testing for a minimum amount of time.

What the industry needs to do is realize that quality QA can be a career in itself, and that they should encourage people to grow in that area rather than encourage them to see it as an entry point.

I’m sure this is generally true – it was true at Turbine – but along with the dreadful salaries and the lack of formal training requirements, it’s also an indication of the insanity of the industry. If you don’t respect the job, you can’t expect to have good people doing the job, at least not for long.

I won’t try to claim that QA has the same pay levels and respect as the various other kinds of engineer in mature software fields outside gaming, but the disparity is not nearly so ridiculous.

How can the industry seriously expect skilled performance in a job which is notoriously difficult and tedious (not to mention extremely important), for $30K a year? It just makes no sense to me at all.

As an aside, it’s strange that you should expect good producers to come out of QA, considering that in the game industry QA has no training or skill requirements. Does this suggest that production likewise has no training or skill requirements? Rather a sad statement, if true, considering that in reality, production = management for all intents and purposes.

Just as a random aside, perhaps that “producer” title alone is indicative of one of the problems with the industry.

And testers want be promoted out their position because their position is drowning in suckage.

I’m a tester, in the 3-6 bracket, although I’d like to think I make more than the amount shown because of overtime but not as much as the lead amount. :(

Exactly… unless testing is a career, good testers will be hard to find because why would capable people want a position with no future?

Interestingly enough, Bioware actually values their testers. I have a friend there who started out with no experience (I got him hired when they were looking for monkeys). Nowadays he makes more money than I do, and he’s still testing.

I’m curious how many studios have positions like this: I’m guessing Bioware is a bit different than most companies…

I have an idea what the pay scale for such experience would be in business software development, but have no idea what it’d pay in gaming.

That stuff is becoming more and more common. Any company looking to develop next gen content really needs to jump on that bandwagon. Games are too big nowadays to blindly develop, blindly test, and just hope thing work.

It’s a good generalized analogy - but what the devil do you have your game testers doing that they’re more effective as producers? Does this also apply to developers?