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How Becoming a Video Game Designer Works


Video Game Designers vs. Video Game Testers
Video-game testers check out video games before their wide release. Here fairgoers test the new Xbox "Halo 3."
Video-game testers check out video games before their wide release. Here fairgoers test the new Xbox "Halo 3."
© Carsten Koall/Getty Images

As we’ve seen, there’s a lot to learn when you decide to find out how to become a video game designer. Doing so takes desire, imagination, training and skill, but the rewards are many. Still, even with all these elements, it can take time to break into this competitive field.

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Many video game designers must work their way into a company, and many choose to take that first step by becoming video game testers. Becoming a video game tester allows a prospective video game designer to make industry contacts and learn the ropes while sharpening analytic skills.

There are important differences between video game designers and video game testers. One is salary: Testers typically don’t make near what designers make. But many successful video game designers will tell you they started out as interns or apprentices and used a video game testing job as a stepping stone to becoming a designer [source: IGDA].

Video game testers play an important role in the industry. They are the ones who put new games through the wringer, looking for bugs and flaws and testing new features before the game's market release, where a problem can mean disaster. Video game testers need to be methodical and organized and have great communication skills so they can easily share their findings with their employers. Great skills with the controller also can come in handy.

By working as a video game tester, a video game designer learns the business from the bottom up. He will learn how to spot flaws and how to work with the creators to fix them. A good tester will try to learn something from every game, both in terms of what works well and what causes problems. At the same time, the video game tester will have the opportunity to work in a professional environment and gain valuable experience that ultimately will help him snag his first job as a video game designer.

For lots more information about careers as a video game designer, video game tester or related topics, use the links on the next page.

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