Skills required to be a game tester
Before you start looking for a Video Game Tester job, it’s important you know what employers will expect from you. In this article I present a list of the most commonly required skills and education for the job. If you think you don’t master all these skills yet, don’t panic and keep reading!
Only an ideal candidate will master all these skills, and such candidate does not exist. The list is presented here to help you assess yourself and sell yourself on your resume and at a job interview.
- Detail oriented and observation: Forget about testing if you can’t catch bugs. Those skills are likely to be tested at the job interview.
- Investigation and troubleshooting skills: It’s one thing to stumble on a bug. It’s another to be able to find the steps that will reproduce the defect.
- Tolerance to repetitive and tedious tasks
- Analytic thinking: If you trying to get a job in a company that doesn’t consider testers as clicking monkeys, they will likely require you to be able of analytic thinking. What does that mean? If they give you a specification document mentioning that the game should accomplish X and Y, you should be able to write test scenarios covering different aspects of X and Y. This skill is quite common requirement in the world of software testing.
The following skills are required in general for any IT job, including game testing:
- Team player: You’re not playing video games alone in your bedroom. You’re working with a team of professionals for a company trying to make money. If you’ve already had any job involving teamwork then you know how people with big egos can get in the way of the teams goal. Don’t be one of these people because you won’t last long. You also need to understand that testers are providing a service to other departments in the company. In a way, those departments can be considered as your clients. Make your clients happy and they’ll love you. Mess with them and you’ll walk out faster than you got in.
- Good oral and written communication: You will need to write flawless bug reports and be able to explain in an effective way what went wrong. In companies having a more formal process, you may need to write test cases and to document your test strategy.
- Ability to maintain good working relationships with others: This is something you need for every job. It basically means: ability to collaborate with the people you like as well as with those you do NOT like.
- Work ethics: crucial for a tester. It’s so easy to ignore a bug and hope nobody will find out. Employers need to trust you.
- Ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure: Things can get hectic as the release date is getting closer. Your employer needs people who can still perform under such conditions.
Specific and/or technical skills
If you’re testing PC games, the employer may require that you’re able to build a PC and troubleshoot hardware issues. If you’re doing localization testing you obviously need to master a language perfectly. Compliance testers are expected to know the certification process of various constructors. You get the idea.
Some companies will require experience.
I have noticed that in areas hosting a lot of game companies, experience is required more often. It’s probably because the pool of candidates in those regions contains more experienced people.
I can understand how inexperienced people can find unfair that companies require experience when it comes to game testing. After all it’s just playing a game all day long… NOT. If you still think that, you seriously need to read this article again.
As a tester evolves in the industry, he learns the game development cycle, the tools, and he develops a sense for uncovering defects. He learns to recognize the patterns. This is why some employers require experience.
That said, game testing is still an occupation very accessible to inexperienced workers.
Those skills will be tested at the interview.
Employers will pretend to require that you’re passionate about video games. Why did I use the word “pretend”? Because not all of them really care about that. What they all care about though is that you’re able to sit in front of a video game and interact with it all day long. And they assume that this will be easier for people passionate about video games. They may also want make sure that you are familiar with their games genre. And even if the employer does not really care, sometimes the QA manager will be more comfortable to hire someone with the same interest.
So in the end even if they don’t really care, it does matter that you know your stuff about video games.
Usually no specific degree is required by gaming companies. However the skills are very often tested at the interview.
For the kids: don’t take that as an excuse to drop off school. Chances are that you won’t want to be a game tester for ever.
You’ll want options.