The video games industry is a multi billion dollar per year industry. If products are sold containing errors and other glitches, the company will not only lose money, but their reputation will be damaged. Bad reviews in gaming magazines and negative comments on internet gaming websites and forums will result in a huge loss of sales for a games publisher. The game tester, more commonly known as the QA tester (QA = quality assurance) is tasked with identifying all errors, problems, and anything that can affect playability prior to the game being released.. Following this process means that the final release is playable, bug free, and most importantly of all, gets great scores and feedback online. Great scores and feedback = more money 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 nearly always be working on a set project with very clear instructions about what specific parts of the game you are required to test. This is how the game tester, earns his hard earned cash. Basically, you will be trying to break the game.
As an example, I once worked on a first person shooting game, testing one specific stage. My jobs was to test the map , which involved 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. The goal of this testing session was to check whether or not the map boundaries were working properly, and whether other in game objects reacted propery when fired upon.
Another example is playing a racing game and attempting to drive the car off the map, seeing what happens when you race in the wrong direction, and basically doing all you can to cause problems with the games code.
Other things you will be looking out for when testing a game are that all the levels load correctly, in game items weapons and objects work as they should, and weather effects and game graphics are displayed correctly. 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 may find that by the time you have finished working on a particular game, you never want to play it again! 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. Conversely, the least serious are errors such as graphics that don’t look how they are supposed to. These more minor bug reports may have no action taken against them, but the more serious bugs will get near immediate attention from the programmers.
The database of clitches is constantly being checked, and only when all the serious issues are resolvved is the final product released for sale. 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.
Thanks to the video game tester, a clean, polished product is usually released and fans and publishers alike are kept happy.