The gaming sector is worth billions of dollars each year to the economy, and is a serious business. If video goodgamestation are released with bugs and glitches, the cost to the company can be huge. Negative reviews on internet gaming forums and blogs, coupled with a backlash from users can massively affect a games profitability and seriously damage sales for the publisher. The Video game tester, more generally known as the QA tester (QA = quality assurance) is given the job of finding problems with the game before it is released, so that programmers can fix the issues. This ensures that the final game released to the public is polished, playable, and gets good reviews and feedback. Good reviews and feedback = more profit for the games publisher. Video game testers are the last line of defence against bugs and glitches.
Unfortunately for you, games producers do not pay gamers to play their favourite games for leisure. You will be working on a particular project with set parameters, where you will be testing very specific areas of a particular game. This is where the game tester, earns his / her dollars. Put simply, your job will be to try and break the game.
For example, a few months ago I was assigned to testing a first person shooting game, testing one specific level. I was tasked with testing the map boundaries, which included running into walls, objects, and other supposedly impassable barriers at different speeds and different angles to see if I could get through. I would also shoot at the walls and objects with different weapons, and try to climb the terrain to get over the boundary. This particular project was designed to ensure that the boundaries where solid, and walls and objects reacted the way they were supposed to when under fire.
Other examples of projects are testing a track in a racing game, driving round it in different directions, at different speeds, crashing into the boundaries, and generally trying to wreak havoc and find something that wasn’t supposed to be there.
Some additional tasks you will be required to perform are checking loading times, and that levels load correctly, and making sure that things such as lighting effects, and the weather, are displayed properly. Concentration is essential, as you will need to ensure that no problems are missed, as these will negatively effect the gaming experience for customers.
Essentially, you will not be playing the game for personal fun or enjoyment. You will need to act professionally at all times, and follow the project guidelines strictly. This can become somewhat tedious, and many people tire of the job after just a few months. You could end up in a situation where you are playing the same game for weeks, even months. You will often be totally sick of a game by the end of the project! Quite often, game testers will rack up hundreds of hours of game play on just one project.
Once a bug has been found, the video game tester will have to complete a short report on the bug, including details of how it was located, and how often it occurs. Each bug is classified according to its seriousness – how negatively it affects the gaming experience. The most serious bugs are those that cause crashes and game freezes. On the other end of the scale are bugs that may be down to personal opinion, for example a video game tester thinking that a particular graphic “doesn’t look right” or an animation that seems odd or out of the ordinary. Quite often, minor bugs and errors will be left in the game, particularly if a deadline is looming.
The database of reports is consulted by the programmers again, bugs are fixed, and the game is then retested. It is very rare for games to be released with major problems, as publishers know full well the damage this can do to their reputation.
Due to the hard work of games testers, customers gaming experiences are kept pleasant, and games publishers can continue to produce profitable products.