Are you a gamer? How many times have you dreamed of playing games for a living? A career as a game tester exposes you to games from across the board before they get to the market. You play a role in ensuring gamers enjoy their games without bugs. The work involves playing games all day long, an exciting opportunity for many. However, there is more to game testing than playing games.
#1 Demanding Work Conditions
Testers work for multiple game publishers at a time. Each tester specializes on a particular aspect of a game and works on it continuously. Doing the same job repeatedly for various games makes testing a boring and tiring job. Additionally, there is pressure to meet demands of each publisher fully and on time. Another challenge is that game testers do not get to choose the games they work on; they work with a range of titles that may include games they do not enjoy.
#2 Poor Pay
Game testers work almost entirely on contract thus they do not enjoy the advantages of union protection. Working on contract limits their negotiation power and control over their working terms and conditions. Despite the tiring and repetitive nature of their work, most game testers get a relatively low wage. Game testing requires specialized skills and knowledge yet they earn slightly above minimum wage even with experience. Additionally, they work long hours especially in the months nearing the release of a game with little or no overtime compensation.
#3 Lack of Job Security
A majority of game testers work under contracts without job security. In their line of work, dismissal is often a matter of time with no methodology to assess an individual’s productivity. Employers use the number of bugs detected to determine productivity. Such an assessment method leaves qualified and hardworking individuals jobless if they are out-numbered in the bugs they identify. Additionally, the dismissal process often follows informal procedures leaving testers unemployed without the termination benefits enjoyed by other employees. Getting another job is also a challenge as employers prefer to remain private and often refuse to give references.
#4 Taking the Blame
Game testers take all the blame for bugs that affect a product once it reaches the consumer. Game developers often pass harsh penalties that include dismissal with disregard to the poor working conditions or likelihood of errors in their line of work. Additionally, some developers ignore bugs identified by testers or fix them without giving testers a chance to ascertain the bug is no longer an issue. Unfortunately, this reflects negatively on the testers affecting their jobs.
The hype associated with game testing often puts game testers at risk as there is always someone willing to step in their shoes. As technology advances and games change, the responsibilities of game testers change. Unfortunately, companies do not prepare their testers for these changes; rather, they often hire new people to take up their jobs.
Game testing sounds and looks lucrative yet the reality is far from the truth. If you choose to pursue a career as a game tester, learn about the risks before and speak to current employees of companies that interest you. Alternatively, pursue other opportunities in the gaming world.
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