Working as a game tester, is it fun?


I just moved to London from Sweden and were looking for work when I saw a ad from Testronic Laboratories that they were looking for Games and DVD Testers.

I applied and I have a interview tomorrow, but now I’m starting to thinking about what they might be looking for in a employee, and I have no clue, sure, in the ad they said this

“Required Skills:
[li]Excellent attention to detail.
[/li][li]Ability to work well individually and also as part of a team.
[/li][li]Technical awareness.
[/li][li]Be an excellent games player; be passionate about finding ‘bugs’.
[/li][li]The efficient use of Microsoft Office Tools, Access, Excel & Word.
[/li][li]Fluent in one of the following languages: Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Japanese, German, Spanish, Italian, French[/ul] Preferred Skills:
[/li] [ul]
[li]Sony TRC and/or Nintendo Lot Checking and Compliance.
[/li][li]On-Line and multiplayer testing of Consoles.
[/li][li]The ability to follow test scripts for game testing.
[/li][li]Entering bugs into a database using clear and concise wording, with recreation steps.”[/ul]
[/li]What is Sony TRC? Nintendo Lot checking and Compliance?

I have a background as a electrician and I have been involved with beta testing games since early 90’s but only as fun time, never as a job.

Does anyone here work or has worked for Testronic or similar company and can tell me what is involved?

I haven’t done it but I know people who have. From what I can tell for the most part it’s awful tedium - around here entry-level game testing basically is the lowest form of testing. :(

I don’t know about this particular game testing outfit, but there’s a Nintendo game testing place not far from where I work, and I know a couple people who work there. The requirements of your listed job make it sound similar to what the Nintendo folks do all day.

By all accounts, this form of game testing is boring as all hell. You play the exact same stretches of the game over and over in very particular ways to see if you can generate any unexpected or undesired behaviour. They actually make playing games seem like work. Which it is, since you’re not really playing it. You’re making your character go through the same motions to test program behaviour.

Still, although it’s nothing like playing games, you do get to work in an air-conditioned office (I hope), and you’re not doing manual labour or working with grease, so I guess it’s not all bad.

Yeah, I expect it to be very repeating, looking for bugs and see if the ones that should be fixed are fixed etc.

Game testing is not fun. It’s tedious and repetitive and boring. If you think either of those will lead to you nodding off or not being able to focus for 8 hours at a stretch, then don’t bother.

How many of you game tester types employ “replay” technology of some kind for creating reproducible cases?

Fucking no one does. We actually tried it on MDK2, but it’s surprisingly difficult to make replay code that’s frame-accurate, which is often what would be necessary to reproduce bugs.


I saw what our game testers did, and Id rather bag groceries for a living then do that.

From what I hear, testing these days is all about developing automation tools. Sure, you still need live testers, but computers offer the level of scale required to really put a program through its paces.

  • Alan

…but you’d probably get paid more for doing both of those. And eventually you might be able to own such a business and other people could do that while you go and build a new mansion and tons of faux-greek statues!

Sony Technical Requirements Checklist. It’s a list of restrictions and specifications that your master disc has to follow. For the PSP, it’s over 30 pages of requirements that you attach to your submission to Sony that says “we have followed this spec to the letter and the disc is ready for testing/duplication”.

Nintendo Lot Check is the division of Nintendo that you send your master discs to. It’s the same deal with them.

It helps but you still need human eyes, or you won’t catch most of the bugs. But automated testing can handle a lot of the straight up grunt work nowadays of running through maps and make sure there aren’t random crashes and such.

This is 100% true for everything that’s not games. Granted I’m not involved directly with game development but everything I hear indicates that it’s probably about 10-15 years behind the rest of the software industry.

The “Chris Taylor…” thread in Games segued into this a bit. Basically the games industry sees QA as that thing you do before releasing. They don’t take it seriously, they certainly don’t treat it as a legitimate career track, and as a result it’s crappy work.

Of course a side effect is that in terms of quality games are some of the worst software out there. :D

That being said I do know that there are companies out there that don’t work this way. Go figure they have a lot more success.

I love game testing, but I don’t recommend it for most people. I am super tired right now, so I don’t think I can explain it eloquently, so let me put it this way. Yes, it is a lot of repetitive work, looking at the same thing day in and day out for months and years on end. But I love to break things. I extra love to see things that are broken get fixed. Something about the QA and debugging crap strikes a chord with me and I find it very satisfying.

Most people find it frustrating or boring. Most people and most companies treat QA as paying your dues before you get a “real job” in development. That’s bullshit. I love it. But it damn sure ain’t for everyone.

I’ve met a few game testers and one of them is a good friend of mine. They’re kinda like career goalies in hockey. Either what they do changes their personality or their personalities dictate the jobs they like. My friend Mike, for example, he’s not monotonous or anything, but if we go out to dinner with a bunch of friends and he’s not enjoying the conversation, he’ll ask someone for a pack of cigarettes so he can take the plastic wrapping and slide it off and put it back on, or something similar like that (he whittles chopsticks into interesting things like helix shapes with his pocket knife, for example… even if they’re the non-disposable plastic kind).

I think it takes a very specific kind of personality to enjoy it, or being something like borderline autistic. I don’t mean crazy, “challenged”, or whatever - for all intents and purposes you’d never be able to tell Mike apart from your average computer geek in 99% of situations - but it definitely helps if you have a non-standard view of what is and is not interesting. If you can amuse yourself every weekend by polishing your engine bay for 3 hours, or if conversation gets boring you start sliding the plastic wrap off and back onto a package of cigarettes while everyone else is talking, odds are you’ll enjoy game testing. Otherwise, I’d bet you’ll burn out.

The tester/programmer dichotomy, all the types of people that come through QA, the conversations and inside jokes…all hilarious.

Is testing fun? Not really. Once you’ve done it for a year it’s just plain old work. But it really depends on the person, and the game. Lots of people just can’t take it. Some completely flip out and become legends.

Hmm… I love monotony! I want to be a game tester!

So how accurate was “Grandma’s Boy”?

In the commercial world, testing is a HUGE, important part of the preoject plan.

It all depends. I started where I am as a Tester, and I loved it. As others said here – at some point, the luster fades, and you realize it’s a job. That’s the point where some people leave, and some people stay (the larger percentage leaves). There’s also the first major, extended crunch to burn through, but that seems to affect anyone just starting in the industry; you either make it or you don’t.

It’s great work, if you’re the right type of person. But it all depends, too, on the company. I worked dev QA, which at our studio meant close involvement with development team members, ties to Production, and a general sense of being part of the team. Publisher/First Party QA isn’t really like that, since you’re going to be wholly separated from dev teams.

If you’re not dev QA, then the job track is probably more difficult, and probably more competitive, if it exists at all. But the experience is probably still worthwhile to some degree.