Good game testers — usually working in quality assurance (QA) departments — are an essential part of making sure that video games are error-free and ship on time. Testers usually are introduced into the development cycle of a game as soon as early playable versions (or “builds”) of the software are available. The tester frequently has scripts of steps to follow and repeat on newer and modified iterations of each build. The testers make extensive notes of performance and experiential data for the developers to use in improving the product.
As a game reaches the later stages of development, testers may be tasked with less scripted work and instead more open-ended procedures. In these cases, testers are expected to not so much “play” the game, but rather to attempt to do as many things (and as varied a series of choices) as can be imagined; they are essentially tasked with trying to “break” the game, or find unintended fail states for the software development teams to address. Again, a key part of this process is extensive note-taking and the collection and observation of performance data.
Game testers are usually entry-level personnel for most development studios or publishers. The education requirements are generally extremely flexible. However, because many developers use this position to find new talent, some employers look for an educational background in computer programming. Testers should expect to work fairly long hours during the day and even into evenings as required by deadlines and production schedules.