How To Score Your First Job as an Online Video Game Tester
If you are an avid online gamer like me, at some point you might start to wonder if your passion can be turned into something more lucrative that can help you earn income. Maybe you just had your most recent guilt trip from wasting your free time playing all those games. Maybe you started feeling like you want to do something more productive, rather than simply have a good time and enjoy yourself. Or maybe you have just decided that it is time to grow up, face the realities around you and start producing some cash.
In any case, video game testing might turn out to be a great opportunity for you to make money, while doing what you love most – playing. But how does one land a job in online video game testing, and what are the specifics of the industry generally, and of this occupation particularly?
After looking at reputable online resources and the results from job aggregators, we came up with the following tips and advice to give you a helping hand at starting your career as a video game tester:
Identify your Specialization
As a video game enthusiast, you have probably already spent your fair share of time playing games. However, your preferences surely tend to gravitate towards certain genres / subgenres / types of gameplay etc. Take an objective look at your gaming stats, to understand where you are strongest – FPSs, RPGs, MMORPGs, JRPGs, fighting games, stealth games, survival horror, Battle Royale, MOBAs, real time strategy or turn-based strategy etc. You should then turn the type of gameplay, genre, or sub-genre of your choosing into your game testing specialty, which brings us to the next point.
Research and Play
Once you have defined your specialization, you need to expand your knowledge of it. This is obviously achieved by playing a lot, but also by taking some time to research online resources like Fandom (formerly known as Wikia) for content related to the games – gameworlds, characters, opponents and monsters, items, codex – anything you can get your hands on. All this knowledge will help you better understand the games that you specialize in, thus turning you into a more competent, versatile, and proficient game tester.
Make sure that your video game equipment is well prepared and up to date. Video game testers usually work on new games, which happen to have the highest system requirements, sometimes putting a strain even on top notch systems. This means that in order to be at the top of your game (pun intended), you need the latest PC hardware and/or consoles. If your budget is limited, you can opt to specialize in a single platform – desktop PC (preferably with hardware designed particularly for gaming, such as Alienware), gaming laptop, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch or Microsoft Xbox. However, do keep in mind that beta testing is done quite differently on consoles, and it might be harder for you to land a job. Consequently, to have more options and opportunities, we advise you to start with a PC or a gaming laptop, and maybe start working on consoles as well, at a later stage. Alternatively, if you manage to get full-time employment as a beta tester, you employer will most certainly provide you with all the equipment that you need.
Build a Resume
You should only list work experience that is relevant to game testing – working for game developers or other companies related to the industry (whether you were employed full-time or part-time, or even an internship), volunteering for gaming-related events – basically anything that might be of interest to the game company that hires you as a beta tester. More importantly, list all your gaming stats – games and hours played, achievements and trophies, links to your gaming platform profiles, your participation and trophies in eSports etc. This is what matters most to your potential employers.
Brush up on your technical skills and language
As a beta tester, you will need to have at least a rudimentary understanding of how computer hardware works, and the ways in which it interacts with the software. Plus, you need to master the basics of the technical language involved, in order to be able to describe what you are experiencing during testing, in an eloquent and useful manner. You can achieve this by reading up on specialized websites and forums. Do not worry too much though – if you have been playing many games for a long time, you probably know a lot of this stuff already.
Apply, apply, apply
Send your resume anywhere you can and apply for any position that sparks your interest. Use job aggregators to find job ads by keywords. Geographic location is somewhat irrelevant here, so you can apply for vacancies from anywhere in the world. Start off by applying for games that you are personally interested in, since this is where you have the highest chance of success. And do not neglect freelancing websites – they are chock full of game testing jobs. You should also consider an internship with a game developer – if you are lucky, you might end up working for one of the big players and gain tremendous amounts of experience.
Show me the money
You are probably wondering about salaries and what to expect from a game testing job. According to the latest statistics, a video game tester makes 15 US dollars per hour on average. The ones who have full-time employment usually make from 42.000 dollars (entry-level, no experience) to 67.000 dollars (experienced testers) per year.
Good luck and let the games begin!