A typical day as a game tester
So what is it like to be a game tester on a daily basis? Is it just another corporate job or is it the glamorous job some like to pretend?
First things first: No, you don’t work from home. Video game testing almost always is a regular job that requires to actually get out of your home… How cruel is that?
Read on to know about the typical day in the life of a professional game tester.
When you arrive at the office in the morning, you already know what you’ll be working on. It’s the same game you’ve been working on yesterday, and it’s probably the same you will be working on for a few weeks. Game development takes time. If your company makes shorter games like phone games or Xbox arcade, then you may work on a few different games through the day but the cycle is similar: you’ll be working on the same games for weeks.
Back to our typical day: first thing in the morning you prepare your hardware. It can be as simple as turning on a console or you may have to customize a PC with a particular graphic card, look for an iPhone with a certain firmware version, etc.
Then the testing starts: Some companies use checklists (or “test suites”): a list of points to verify in a game, or a level. Others will actually just let you explore. With or without a checklist, game testing is an activity involving a lot of repetition. If you are a kid reading this hoping to get paid while having fun on a game: forget it. You will not enjoy your time testing a game like when you’re playing in your living room. But the job can still be fun and enjoyable. (Read Is game testing for me?).
While you’re testing, you will inevitably encounter bugs. You must log them on a bug tracking tool. It’s usually not the favorite task of the testers but it’s a critical one. In some companies, testers never get to speak to developers because they are in different geographical locations, or different floors or just because it’s not in the company culture (read Types of gaming companies you can work for). So you must be sure that your report will allow the developer reproduce the bug easily.
End of the test
The test is over when:
- You finished the checklist, or…
- You are confident about the functionality you tested, or…
- More pragmatically: when there is no time left to test
In any case, you will most probably have to create a test report. It’s a document that describes your test session in terms of the time spent, the functionality tested, the bugs found, etc. The complexity of the report depends on the company.
So now, you finished testing, you wrote your report, office hours are almost over and it’s time to go home… NOT.
Overtime is widespread in the software industry, and even more in the video games industry. The amount of over time will greatly vary between companies, but personally I never worked for any company that didn’t ask for overtime. You may get compensation for your overtime in various ways:
- a pizza and a drink
- time off
- paid overtime
That will greatly depend on your employer. Some will try to avoid it, other will expect you to be 100% dedicated to your job and even abuse you .
Anyway… Later in the evening of your typical day you finally leave the office. You’re tired and when you arrive at home you probably don’t feel like playing video games…