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How Video Game Testers Work

The Need for Video Game Testers
Fans of Madden Football '08 complained of problems after its initial release.
Fans of Madden Football '08 complained of problems after its initial release.
© Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NFL Players

Bringing a new video game to market costs millions of dollars and takes many months. From concept to final testing and marketing, creating a new video game requires the time, energy and talent of multiple people with many different skills. Writers create characters and premises and illustrators bring them to life. Animators take over from there while code writers work behind the scenes creating the virtual world in which the characters live and the rules they live by. Hardware specialists ensure the game controllers for the given system provide an accurate interface between the video game's virtual world and the gamer.

The video game tester is involved early and often in this process, ferreting out problems that arise along the way. The game tester must be part of the development team, as some bugs that arise can stop the process in its tracks until they're solved. The game tester helps find such fatal bugs early, so that others can fix the problems before they compound.

Video game testers often work on "alpha" or early versions of the game. Testing this version is aimed at finding and fixing major, fatal flaws early. Missing a major flaw can be very costly to the video game creator. The earlier, or deeper the flaw, the more additional code will be built upon it and the harder it'll be to fix it later in the process. For this reason, video game testers who are skilled at approaching the game from various angles are a vital part of the development team.

Video game creators take testing seriously, as a bugged game can cost them. A game with bugs that a company must recall is a costly venture, and not just in dollars [source: Ezine articles].

For example, Madden NFL 2008, a hugely popular game series had fans complaining about numerous bugs and even labeling it "unplayable" [source:]. Hardware problems, such as the alleged crashing problem cited in a now settled lawsuit against Microsoft's Xbox 360, can also take a bite out of company profits [source: Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog].

Fan feedback on the Internet can do irreparable damage to a company's brand. For these reasons, competent video game testing is crucial to game creators.

Testing is extremely important when launching video game so what exactly are the responsibilities of a video-game tester? Check out the next page to find out.