The goal of playing video games for a living often begins with becoming a game tester, whether you want to end up being a designer, programmer or executive producer. This is the best way to get your foot in the door and demonstrate that you can not only play games, but have a knack for attention to detail.
That’s exactly the advice of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 QA Project Lead Jeff Roper. “The basic characteristics managers look for would be a fundamental love and passion for video games,” he says. “Other important characteristics would be an eye for detail, critical thinking and the ability to stay focused throughout. Of course, being a team player and getting along with your fellow co-workers is also important.”
The problem with this entry-level position is that it’s difficult to track down using the over-searched word “video game tester.” Instead, look for “quality assurance tester” or “QA tester.” Go directly to companies, make as many contacts as possible and, as with any sought-after job, be persistent. Apply knowing that there’s more to being a video game tester than sitting in a beanbag chair playing through all of your favorite game franchises before they’re released. Games won’t always be part of your top ten list, you’ll test for hours on end and you’re typically limited to a single game until the end of its production.
“Testing is hard work and can often be tedious,” Roper points out. “Someone who expects to just play video games all day will be disappointed. Someone who realizes that testing is a serious job, with high expectations, will be much more successful.”
Being able to pick up on glitches is important along with communicating those mistakes that you come across. Solid verbal and written skills are a top requirement, so you can’t get by on your joystick prowess alone. Also, emphasize in a cover letter your ability to meet deadlines along with your passion for playing through the latest games.