Games tester is probably at the top of many people’s list of dream jobs, but does the reality really live up to the dream? More specifically, what exactly does a career in game testing involve, and what sort of salary can a games tester expect?
Most people think that being a game tester involves little more than playing games all day, and while in essence that is at least partially true (a typical games tester will spend 6 or more hours play testing games each day) there is certainly more to it.
The first thing to realise is that testing a game is very different to playing a game for fun. Testing is very repetitive, and often involved playing through the same section or level over and over again many times in order to find and remove bugs, and then again to ensure that those old bugs don’t return.
Secondly, while a tester needs to take careful notes while play testing a game, logging their findings so they can report back to the development team. That’s where the game tester’s other main skill is required – communication. It’s essential for a games tester to have great communication skills, so they can relay their findings back to the developers in order to fix bugs and make improvements
So, while testing isn’t quite the same as having a session on your favorite game with your friends, it certainly does involve a lot of game playing. That leads us to the next question – what does the average games tester earn?
Game tester salaries vary depending on a number of variables, but mostly on experience and the amount of time committed, as well as which development company you work for. Compared to some jobs in the games industry game tester wages are relatively quite low. However, many game testers choose to work as freelancers, from home, reporting their bugs back to the development team by email and telephone. This type of testing position is often performance based, and a good tester can earn up to $80 per hour, although most earn considerably less than that. However, even at only $20 – $30 per hour, that’s still an attractive income for getting paid to play games, and getting a “foot in the door” to potentially more lucrative positions in the games industry.
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