Every young gamer who spent time to learn about the industry they’ve invested in probably had the same dream job. Game design degree students can probably attest to this dream as well. Game testing. A job where you can spend time with game developers, play video games, and all you have to do is make sure the game’s aren’t broken?
It seemed amazing.
Almost too good to be true.
Over the last few years, a number of legitimate “game testers”, or as they’re known by their official titles “Quality Assurance Testers”, have come out and made several remarks about their jobs and the myths that come with it.
To put it plainly, it was too good to be true.
Before the truth is revealed though, it must be stated that quality assurance testing can be a decent entry point into the gaming industry, perfect for a student looking at a game design degree. It gets your foot in the door and familiarizes yourself with the industry, and more specifically, future employers.
But that’s all it should be.
Quality assurance (QA) testers are responsible for discovering bugs within a game’s build and reporting to a developer or programmer about how to recreate the bug so that they can look at fixing it. Their job becomes one of the most important in the entire studio, as a few bugs in a quality release can cripple its sales.
This is where the shine starts to wear off. QA testers are not responsible for playing through an entire game and identifying bugs, but rather, playing a small section of a game repeatedly to identify bugs. In a mostly confidential interview with IGN.com, QA tester Reuben remarks that it is far from the dream of gaming all day.
“Imagine your favorite movie. Now take your favorite 30-second clip from that movie. Now watch that 30-second clip over and over again, 12 hours a day, every day for two months. When you’ve done that, tell me if what you’ve been doing is watching movies all day. I’m willing to bet you’ll find that it’s not quite the same thing…You get an area of the game, that’s your area, and you test everything about that one area for months on end.”
QA testers are hired in dozens but are also considered expendable by most companies. They don’t receive respect, are paid low wages, and are blamed for any bugs that slip through the cracks. Many QA testers remarked that developers sometimes ignore their reports and when the game ships, with that bug, it is the QA department that gets the blame.
As stated previously, the world of quality assurance testing represents a perfect entry-level job for game design degree students. You are placed right at the ground level and are introduced to certain aspects of game development. You work hand in hand with the developers and watch a game go from beta to full release. The experience can help when looking to move up. On top of that, there are a number of companies, like Valve Corporation, that actually dedicate a lot of time to QA testing and make it a point to spend time on that field.
Gaming for a living may not be everything it’s made out to be, but for the game design students really looking at a degree, the passion is there.
Get information on a game design degree using the form on this page. School representatives will guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have about the various programs that are available to help you earn your game design degree.
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