Each month we take a look at one of the 650 career pathways featured within Indigo. This month, we explore the role of a Computer Games Tester.
So what is a Computer Games Tester?
Computer games testing is a form of quality assurance (QA) work. As a computer games tester you will undergo intensive playtesting of computer, console and mobile games in order to ensure that gameplay runs smoothly and to discover any programming faults and inconsistencies in the software before it goes into distribution.
You will be expected to present your findings as a detailed bug report and liaise with games design and development teams, advising on how to address and correct the faults that your testing has brought to light.
As the first user of a computer game, you may also be consulted to provide feedback on elements of design such as user interface, sound and accessibility.
Hours can be unsocial, requiring regular work during evenings and weekends and through public holidays.
Overtime may be a regular requirement, particularly at busy periods prior to a game’s release.
Work is mostly office based.
Type of work
You will work closely with games designers and developers.
Things to consider
There can be great job satisfaction in seeing the release of a computer game that you have worked on.
Irregular work/job security
Job security may be missing in the early stages of a career in computer games testing.
Competition is high and vacancies for toy designers are limited at manufacturing companies.
You will often be given a single section of a game in order to thoroughly test it and look for bugs. This could mean hours of repetitive gameplay with the specific aim of trying to ‘break’ the section.
You will have to work unsocial hours, and overtime may be required when a game is due to be released.
Most people have 5 GCSEs and you will need previous experience/passion for the field
There are no formal entry requirements for a career in computer games testing. Knowledge of, and a keen passion for, computer games and the gaming industry is of most value when looking for work in this field.
Industry-specific qualifications, such as the Chartered Institute for IT’s (BCS) Certified Tester qualification at Foundation level, which is produced in collaboration with the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB). There are also certificates at Intermediate and Higher level. No prior experience is required in order to undertake the Foundation level certificate. Candidates for the Intermediate level certificates will already hold 18 months’ industry experience in a software testing role, and those for the Higher a minimum of 3 years’. Knowledge of programming will be beneficial to a career in computer games testing. This could be gained through a bachelor’s degree route, undertaking a degree in a relevant subject such as computer games development, computer games technology, computer science or 3D animation. Entry onto a degree is usually with 2 A levels/3 H grades and 5 GCSEs/National 5s (C or above, or 4 or above in England) and courses typically take 3–4 years to complete.
Undertaking independent projects in games design or development, building a portfolio of storyboarded game designs, maintaining industry knowledge through magazines and other news outlets and submitting your own articles and reviews to blogs or user-generated media outlets will be regarded favourably when applying for jobs.
Entrants can expect to earn between £20,000 and £25,000 a year. With experience, you could progress to a testing lead role, earning between £25,000 and £30,000 a year. Progression to more senior roles, such as games developer, can increase yearly earnings to between £30,000 and £50,000 a year.
‘TechSkills offers Degree Apprenticeship schemes in software development at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Degree Apprenticeships take between 3 and 5 years to complete, combining on-the-job experience with formal learning at a college or university (training provider). Entry to Higher and Degree Apprenticeships is usually with 2 A levels/3 H grades and 5 GCSEs/National 5s (C or above, or 4–9 in England).
University options and careers education from the experts.