It may seem like a dream job: Getting paid big bucks by tech companies to sit at home and play video games all day. Furthermore, there are online sites that say it’s entirely possible:
But is it really that easy to find a job, and make money, as a video game tester?
The harsh reality of video gaming
It may seem like sitting home all day and playing all kinds of cool video games would be a dream come true. However, most video gamers don’t last very long, and here are three big reasons why:
You are doing the same task repeatedly. Imagine watching your favorite movie, but instead of watching it from start to finish, you must watch the same 30 seconds of it over and over and over. Why? Because your job depends upon you finding bugs or errors. Should you spot some kind of issue with your video game at level 3, for example, you will need to reproduce that error and catalog where/how/when it occurs. Some bugs don’t always repeat, which can be maddening when you’re trying to prove they exist.
You won’t get paid a lot, if ever. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average salary earned by professional video gamers is about $50K/year. That sounds great, in theory…until you realize that these gamers have been gaming for years and years. Also, many gamers are programmers by trade, so they can not only spot a bug, but fix it.
In contrast, contracting and beginner video gamers earn $8-$10/hour. If they stick around a few years and prove their worth, their pay gets bumped up to about $14/hour.
You’ll rarely get to pick your gig. If you think you’ll be playing in-demand games like Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty, think again. Sure, it’s not an impossibility, but games like that are usually handed off to senior beta testers who can quickly run through the game objectives and even fix the errors as they pop up. You, meanwhile, may end up testing a children’s puzzle game.
Crunch time means having no life. In the product launch world, there is a period of time, right before launch, called “crunch time.” This period of time is characterized by developers and testers putting in 18 hour days, getting little sleep, and barely seeing their families. As a tester, you might be asked to run through several different scenarios or to catch X amount of bugs…and all before Tuesday. Get really comfortable with your couch or office chair because you won’t be leaving it for a while.
With those disclaimers aside, it can be really fun and exciting to be a part of the video game testing world. Sometimes, you’ll score free games on top of getting paid for your efforts. You’ll also have the chance to connect with developers, programmers, and other gaming enthusiasts.
So, which companies can you sign up with to increase your odds of becoming a video game tester?
This rather promising company offers off-site gamers the opportunity to play top-notch games that have huge budgets and tight deadlines via its Global Beta Test Network. New GBTN jobs are posted weekly, and the only real requirements for applying are that you are at least 18 years of age and own one or several game consoles.
Akin to sites like Monster or CareerBuilder, Volt is a recruiting firm that matches applicants with suitable jobs. However, Volt goes one step further and also helps you polish up your resume and submission materials. You can also just post your resume on this site and receive notifications of jobs that match your qualifications and experience.
Its job board is free to peruse, and the site often lists video game tester positions that are available for weekly (or longer) terms.
You might assume that this site is only for freelance writing gigs, but Upwork also offers a good amount of game testing jobs. A quick search of the site using the terms ‘game testing’ pulled up the following results:
These freelance jobs are a good way to find out if you enjoy being a gamer, or if you might like other aspects of gaming, such as writing the product specs, generating content, or even marketing the games.
This agency often works with developers to test games- which means that it occasionally needs off-site game testers. Check the site’s gaming area for more information.
A final note about scams…
Because at-home video gamer jobs appear to be the ideal way to make money by doing nothing, various scam sites have latched onto them as easy bait. As a result, if you do a Google search for video game tester jobs, prepare to be inundated with “opportunities,” like the one featured above. Such websites promise you up to $100/hour for playing video games, while other scam sites try to charge you money to “teach” you how to find such jobs. However, unless you locate a site that teaches you programming or debugging skills, it is a waste of your time and money.