How to Test Games—Is Video Game Testing the Job for You?

16 December, 2021

According to our QA Testers here at All in! Games, people tend to have a few set ideas on what QA game tester jobs are like. There are two common reactions: “That’s cool, I want to become a QA game tester too” and “Sounds like a dream job!”, or the complete opposite: “That’s not a real job” and “So if you’re playing, you’re not really doing any work”.

But when it comes to QA video game jobs, there’s more to them than meets the eye. To shed more light on what it’s really like to be a game tester we talked to our QA Coordinator Marcin, some of the most common questions asked about being a gaming QA tester. 

What do QA video game testers do?

To put it simply, QA testers in game dev look for issues a player might encounter when playing a game. They report the issue and the developers, now aware of it, can fix it. After verifying the fix, the tester will then close the issue or reopen it if necessary. It sounds simple, but the job involves playing the same game over and over again, and trying out lots of different strategies to reveal bugs until a game is ready for release. Testing also involves the verification of technical requirements, performance, and the overall usability of a game, as well as sometimes even the game’s security.

Now let’s delve into coordinator Marcin’s and QA tester Bartek’s insider knowhow.

~

Bartek: My experience in game dev started at a vocational school, when I attended a local IT event that had been organized by the school. I met the CEO of Teyon there, a video game publisher, and I asked them for an internship—they gave me one! That internship was my first job as a QA game tester. After that, I moved on to a few other companies and even created games in Unity for the Multimedia Center in Wawel Castle (Poland) as well, so I’ve built quite a portfolio.

I’m also currently a student majoring in IT and econometrics, with a specialization in computer game design, at the College of Economics and Computer Science in Kraków.

What do QA video game testers do?

Bartek: For my job at All in! Games, I test video games for PC and consoles. We test their functionality, so FQAs (functional quality assurance) and CQAs (compliance testing, meaning verifying if a game is compliant with the technical requirements of platform holders before it lands on a console)

Is a video game QA tester a real job?

Bartek: Yes, it’s definitely a real job. 😉 Don’t get discouraged by people telling you otherwise!

What skills do I need to become a video game QA Tester?

Marcin: Ideally you need to have an interest in games, a solid and communicative level of English, a knowledge of PCs and consoles, and the ability to think in a logical way. Knowing how to use the Microsoft Office suite is a plus, but it’s not always required and can be learned later.

Am I good enough to be a QA video game tester?

Bartek: If you want to check if you’d be good at this job, I have a way for you to test the job out. Head to a shop with books, movies, video games, etc. When you’re in the section that has what interests you, close your eyes and pick up the first thing you touch. Don’t look at it. Buy it and check it only after you’ve returned home. 

If you’re able to watch, read, or play it 8 hours a day, everyday then… you’re a robot. Everyone gets tired after a while. If you’re not able to do that, that’s okay, you’re just a human. Both results mean you can be a good tester. 

Just trying out this simulation means you’re willing to test yourself and shows that you’re determined. Anyone can be a good QA video game tester as long as they’re patient and thorough. 

How should I  prepare for a QA tester interview?

Marcin: A QA tester interview does not differ much from any other interviews, other than the fact that test tasks may be more focused on your ability to think logically, spot details, and be patient. Keep in mind the ‘ideal skills’ that were mentioned in the job posting and you will know what to expect.

What’s a typical day as a QA tester like?

Marcin: That really depends a lot on the kind of game you’re testing and what the profile of the company is (publisher, developer, outsourcing company, etc.). Generally, you can expect to test a game according to documents you get, search for issues, and investigate patterns of improper behavior, followed by documenting what you find as bug reports and sending them to the devs. You can also expect to give feedback on the games you’re testing, plan the amount of testing needed for a particular game, and to retest old issues after they are fixed by the devs.

What’s a potential future career of a QA video game tester?

Bartek: There are many possibilities depending on your area of expertise. Some testers focus more on manual testing, usually exploratory based, which works great in complex games where a creative approach is key.

Game testers can also focus on compliance tests for platform holders, which require more technical knowledge. QA testers who want to learn a bit of programming can move to automation testing, which usually works best for websites and smaller applications in general, and can also open a path to being a developer.

Many QA testers take on the role of a game designer or developer almost right away while others move on to management roles in either test coordination or project coordination as a whole.

A job as a QA tester is also a great stepping stone into the video game industry in general. It’s an entry-level position that gives you opportunities to advance in many directions later on and experience some of the arcane knowledge of how game dev works first-hand.

What are some good and bad things about being a video game QA tester?

Marcin: The pros of this job are that it’s a great way to enter the game industry and learn a lot about the process of how the games are developed. This allows you to switch to other positions later, more related with programming, game design, or management. Also, this kind of job teaches you to think in a structured and logical way as well as how to be patient. 

Other than that, testing can be really creative when it comes to finding potential exploits or complex problems. Still, it is worth mentioning that at times the job can get pretty repetitive. 

In addition, the pressure of being the “quality gate” of the company can be discouraging, as there will always be situations when a crucial bug is not found, which results in problems and user complaints. But that just happens, so you need to remember that no one and nothing is perfect, and that’s why testing will always exist.

What if I get bored with video games?

Bartek: Do you know how many QA video game testers say “I don’t play video games in my free time anymore”? Many of them no longer find video games enjoyable. Let’s be honest, after playing video games for 8 hours at work you just don’t feel like doing it at home. There’s a limit to how many hours you can spend in front of a screen. It’s not that you hate video games, but playing them isn’t as fun as it used to be. What can you do to change that?

You need to differentiate between testing and playing. When you’re testing a game, you’re responsible for a crowd of other people. You go through the game’s features methodically and often against the rules when you do exploratory testing. When you’re actually playing, it’s for your own pleasure and usually according to the game’s rules. The difference may seem huge, but it’s often hard to tell the two approaches apart in practice. 

Protip: Play with your friends. 

Even the worst movie is great when you watch it with friends and it’s the same with video games. I played multiplayer games with my friends after work and it was more than just playing a video game, it was also spending time with other people. Remotely, but still. 

If you want to play solo, there are a few things you can do to help yourself differentiate work and fun. Try to do something else for a change, like watching a movie, before you go back to playing. Another tip that works for me is playing a game from my childhood, Kao the Kangaroo 2. In my mind, this game is perfect and enjoyable, so I don’t need to find bugs in it. I play it a bit to ‘reset’ my brain to ‘fun mode’ and then change to a different game. 

There are as many ways to enjoy playing games as there are testers. 

~

Are you interested in a career as a QA tester for games? Or are you a newbie QA video game tester looking for advice? Check out another article of ours here to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the job based on our QA testers’ experiences. You’ll find tons of useful QA tips you can use at work and in your downtime.

Are you interested in an inside look at other game dev jobs? Check out our articles:

Are you considering a career in game development? Check out our current job openings at All in! Games here:

If not, no worries. Follow All in! Games and stay up to date with our latest recruitment updates—we’re always growing!

Did something surprise you about QA video game testers? Do you want to share your own experience with us? Join the discussion on our Discord.

Follow All in! Games to stay up to date: