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How Video Game Testers Work


Video Game Tester Responsibilities
Video game testers need patience and dexterity.
Video game testers need patience and dexterity.
© James Woodson/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Video game testers find problems. To do that, they must take different approaches and test games in various ways. If there's a problem with any aspect of the video game, it's the game tester's responsibility to find it.

Some game testers focus on software or "coding" bugs. Software codes are the DNA of video games, controlling everything from the characters features and movements, to the environment and storyline. Software bugs can cause a game to "freeze up" under certain conditions or make seemingly simple mistakes, such as miscalculating a score in a sports game.

Software problems can be serious issues, and it's important to find them as early in development as possible. Software problems might only manifest themselves in certain situations. That means the game tester must try the same operation in different ways to ensure smooth operations. For example, a tester might send a character to attack every other character using a different weapon and recording the responses. This type of repetitive testing is a typical chore for video game testers.

Sometimes testers are assigned to test hardware, such as controllers. To do this, the game tester might activate different combinations of buttons and triggers on the controller and observe the outcome. Other parameters include the ease of use (can the tester reach all the buttons easily?) and ergonomics, such as whether the controller is comfortable to use for long periods of time. Hardware testing might also include the use of accessories, such as memory cards, to ensure performance.

Testers could also be called upon to work their way through various levels of a game like a typical customer and looking for bugs or offering observations on how the game plays.

Whenever a game tester finds a bug or has other input, the tester and the on-site manager must complete a report to the game manufacturer. The report should include sharply detailed descriptions of what happened and when, as well as what other factors might be associated with the issue. This is where good communication skills come in. Only through such detailed reports can coding experts and others fix the problems testers identify.

Is video-game testing a dream job? Check out the next page to find out.