Being a video game tester sounds almost like a dream job where you play games all day and just report whether it works well or not. But if you read our material regarding Kotaku's investigation into the creation of Call of Duty Black Ops 4, you know that being testers, to put it mildly, is not very good.
In general, game testers [QA] are the very beginning stage and at the same time the best way to enter the industry if you have no experience. There is some truth to this as there are many examples of industry professionals who started in QA, becoming producers, programmers, creative directors, analysts and studio leaders.
But do not fly in the clouds once again. QA is a versatile job in which games can only be a small part of it. And while this could be the first rung in the industry, it is also a skilled, technical and challenging career. But yes, the role of a tester was not particularly appreciated. In addition to our material on what you can become in the gaming industry, we have translated GI.biz material on how to become a video game tester.
Types of game tests
Not all game testers work in studios. In fact, many are hired by outsourcing firms that test various products, and not just games, according to different criteria:
There are other niche forms of testing, including performance, usability, focus group, and closed beta testing. Although they can often form part of the above four categories. And with the advent of live, service-based games, the role of a tester is constantly evolving.
In studios, the QA role is sometimes integrated with development teams. And here testers are often either QA analysts or QA engineers.
Malachi O'Neill, director of testing at Runescape developer Jagex, says the following about this:
“Our QA analysts are product experts and the defects they find are usually related to quality, like balance, alignment with the original vision. They constantly participate in design discussions and collect player feedback every day. This is all related to black box testing.
There are also QA engineers who are more technical oriented. They do not have extensive analytical knowledge, but they can go deeper into the structure of architecture. Their job relates to gray box testing.
We are now seeing a trend towards automation of quality control and self-reliance so that we can lower the technical barrier for non-technical testers. Large quality control organizations have a quality engineering subgroup that performs this function. A common job you will find is a software engineer testing software. People in this role have the ability to write code and test it. This is already white box testing.
Education required for a tester
Education is not a requirement to work in QA.
"While a college degree in game design, software engineering, and computer science is always a plus, most studios and quality assurance agencies recruit applicants with minimal education," says Adam Rush, quality assurance manager at Keywords Studios.
“However, QA is becoming an increasingly sought-after area of the gaming industry, and knowledge related to the industry will help you. As a tester's job as a quality control engineer becomes more technical, traditional formal education such as game development, computer science, and math is highly valued but rarely a demanding requirement. You often learn as you go, ”says O'Neill.
“The new thing is professional quality assurance training such as the ISTQB [International Software Testing Qualification Board] series of certifications. They demonstrate skill in the craft and that you take QA seriously. ”
More and more companies are asking candidates for a basic ISTQ certification
B for work. It's cool and it certainly gives you the basics of software testing principles, but I don't think it should be a requirement, especially for junior positions, and its absence, in my opinion, is not a reason not to hire a person for the position.
I think this is a higher level QA requirement, so it's worth studying, especially since the curriculum is available online. As part of your professional career, many companies are happy for you to pass career guidance exams.
Even basic programming skills are useful for testers in reading and understanding code. There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from online courses, be it free tutorials on YouTube or paid courses on portals like Udemy. They may not lead to formal qualifications, but they will help you gain knowledge.
Ways to become a tester
You can find QA vacancies on sites that write about development [the same Gamesindustry.biz and Gamasutra] and directly on the sites of local developers. Many employers prefer to hire someone with experience in this field, but how do you get a position when you don't know how? Failbetter Games Chief Quality Assurance Officer Leslieann White offers a simple solution:
“Apply for an internship to gain work experience. Not necessarily in the gaming industry, you can even in another similar company.
Making your own games and learning about different tools and technologies will also give you an edge.
Build a portfolio where you can showcase your knowledge of game design and programming. Start a blog where you write about development processes and stages, debugging and fixing errors. Learn about the different game engines: Unity, Unreal, and GameMaker have free versions. While you are testing builds of games, at the same time you will be testing the game engine. Therefore, everything is interconnected here.
Explore useful tools. I'm not just talking about testing tools like TestRail or Charles, Jira proxy, but tools used by the development team like Visual Studio, Git, Ink, Twine, Blender, 3DS Max, and so on. Most have free, trial, or educational versions. ”
White also advises to investigate, search for bugs, and report them with a real-world example. Do not spam, because you can be banned, but adequately report to support. The best place to look for them is in MMOs.
Finally, join the online tester communities. You may meet other testers who are usually very happy to offer help or advise what to read. Sometimes there are even opportunities to help test software applications. It will also help you gain experience. ”
We will tell you about the qualities of good testers, misconceptions about the profession and tips for beginners in the second article.
The Topic of Article: How to become a video game tester? Part one.