Games

Games tester

Also known as: Quality assurance technician, QA technician

Entry level

Games tester

What does a games tester do?

Games testers don’t get paid just to play games all day, despite popular belief. They test specific aspects of a game, write detailed reports of each bug they find and then re-test when the development team has fixed it. They look for programme bugs, spelling mistakes, graphical or audio glitches and even copyright issues.

Testers work to deadlines and understand how their role as a tester fits into the production schedule. They must be able to document their findings accurately, usually in a software quality management system. And they need great game stamina as they may play the same part of a game over and over again – long after it’s stopped being fun.

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What’s a games tester good at?

  • Playing games: be an avid game play and understand what makes for a good gameplay experience
  • Following instructions: be able to follow the test brief accurately (and not get distracted by other aspects of the game)
  • Communication: define and articulate the quality of the gaming experience
  • Attention to detail: be precise about a bug and record it accurately
  • Patience: not get bored when you must play the same aspects of a game repeatedly

Tools of the trade

You will be expected to use reporting software but not to have prior knowledge of it.

Who does a games tester work with?

Testers work with other QA technicians and report to the gameplay programmer. They also work closely with technical artists and programmers who need specific aspects of a game to be tested.

How do you become a games tester?

This is an entry-level position. Some people start off as QA technicians and then go on to work in other areas such as gameplay design, animation or programming, usually with additional training. Others make QA a career in itself.

At school or college:
You don’t need Level 3 qualifications to be a games tester – but you might want to get some. It will help you move into other roles within the games industry if you do.  A-levels, Highers or a BTEC in computer science would be useful.

Or you might want to take one of the following Level 3 vocational qualifications:

  • Aim Awards Diploma/Extended Diploma in Games Animation and VFX
  • AQA Technical Level Entertainment Technology: Video Games Art & Design/Design Production
  • OCR Technical Diploma in Digital Media (Digital Content for Interactive Media)
  • UAL Diploma/ Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production and Technology

Get an apprenticeship: 
In England, there’s a Level 4 apprenticeship as a software tester. Even if the job isn’t in games, your experience as a tester in another industry will be useful as a route into games testing. Go to how to become an apprentice to learn how to find apprenticeships in your region or approach companies directly.

Search for jobs
Use the UK Games Map to find games companies near you, then go to their websites directly and check out their open roles. Even if they are not advertising for a QA tester, if you like a specific company it’s worth emailing them to let them know you’re looking in case something suitable comes up in future.

Keep your eye on the end goal
If you are becoming a tester as a way of getting to know the industry so that you can become a gameplay designer, animator or programmer, make sure you get the relevant qualifications for those roles as well. Have a look at the games job profiles to see which one you are aiming for and learn about what other skills you are going to need.

You might also be interested in…

Being a junior games programmer.

Further resources