What Is a Game Tester and How Do You Become One?

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Explore what game testers do, how to become one, and where the gaming industry is headed.

[Featured Image] A game tester in a blue shirt holds a VR headset and reviews information on his laptop.

What is a game tester?

A game tester, also referred to as a video game tester, is someone who plays video games, tests their features, and identifies glitches and bugs before their public release. Game testers often work for video game companies and collaborate with game developers and programmers to improve games and ensure they’re ready for users. 

There are two main roles that a game tester typically takes on. 

  • Playtesters focus on testing the user experience of a game, such as where it becomes boring or vague, how fun it is to play, and how many victories you can experience on the way to meeting the game’s objective. 

  • Quality assurance testers focus on identifying technical issues with a game, such as glitches, bugs, and inconsistencies. 

According to Fortune Business Insights, the gaming industry is expected to grow from $229.16 billion in 2021 to $545.98 billion by 2028 [1]. Indeed reports that game testers in the US make $103,218 annually on average [2]. Given these figures, you may be able to find many opportunities to game test as a side hustle and even pursue a new career path. 

Read more: 21 Side Hustle Ideas and How to Get Started

Why become a game tester? 

In addition to being able to earn money, becoming a game tester can be a rewarding experience. As a game tester, you’ll typically gain access to the latest games, which means you’ll have an insider’s view of the gaming industry. If you enjoy playing video games, testing them will likely appeal to your abilities and interests, particularly exploring new worlds, paying attention to detail, and thinking strategically.   

If your goal is to be a part of the gaming industry for the long term, becoming a game tester can open up a number of career opportunities, from game development to graphic design, quality assurance engineering, or even project management. 

What does a video game tester do?

As a game tester, you can make an important contribution to the gaming industry and community. Testers help developers identify and address glitches, troublespots, and detractors before games are released. Avoiding post-release errors helps keep costs down. Effective testing supports overall game quality and customer satisfaction, helping set games up for commercial success. 

The games you test could go on to become iconic games that inspire and delight players for generations.  

Video game tester responsibilities 

Video game testers are responsible for several important tasks. Most importantly, they are expected to play video games with a more critical eye than when playing games for entertainment. That way, they can identify technical and creative problems that could result in a negative user experience, including: 

  • When a player becomes trapped in a section of the game

  • When a movement graphic doesn’t work 

  • When the controls don’t feel intuitive

  • Areas of the game that aren’t enjoyable

  • Confusion about the game, its concept, or the objective 

In order to identify these problems, game testers may be asked to perform specific tasks, such as switching the game on and off, downloading games while playing other games, playing the game on different devices and platforms, and recreating sequences that lead to glitch. 

Sometimes game testers are asked to participate in a series of testing rounds. For example, Techopedia, an IT news and trends site, describes a four-part process for playtesting, including:

  • Gross playtesting: initial test using the basic running model to find problems in gameplay (how users interact with a game), usually carried out by the design team

  • In-house playtesting: a more comprehensive test to find remaining glitches in gameplay, usually carried out by in-house or contract game testers 

  • Blind testing: when playtesters with no prior knowledge of the game experience it as users and provide feedback 

  • Final playtesting: the last test before the game is released to improve design and aesthetic, rather than function

How do I become a game tester? 

If you’re interested in becoming a game tester, there are several ways to enter this field. Follow the steps below to explore your options, gain professional skills and experience, and discover career or side hustle opportunities. 

1. Upgrade your gaming practice. 

The most important part of becoming a game tester is to become an intentional and conscientious gamer. Your goals should include:

  • Gain varied experience by playing different genres of games, such as real-time strategy, multiplayer online battle area, and sports.

  • Gain proficiency in and familiarity with playing games on different game consoles, as well as on desktops, laptops, and mobile phones. 

  • Identify features that would improve games. 

  • Practice describing your gaming experiences in detail. 

2. Build technical knowledge and skills in game testing.

Supplement your gaming practice with a strong set of technical skills.

  • Learn the basic responsibilities of a game tester, including playing every stage of a game, detecting bugs and glitches, and recommending improvements to developers. 

  • Learn QA terminology like playtesting, code release, performance testing, and minimum viable product. 

  • Become familiar with top gaming studios and companies like Electronic Arts, Nintendo, and Ubisoft. 

  • Improve your strategic thinking, analysis, reporting, and technical writing skills. 

  • Learn reporting and technical writing.  

To build these skills, consider taking courses, getting certified in specific skills, or earning a degree in in game design, computer programming, or related fields. 

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Game Design: Art and Concepts

Create Imaginative Games. Design a video game for independent distribution in just four courses.

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3. Participate in public beta testing.

Public beta testing can be a great way to learn about upcoming games, practice your skills as a game tester, and even earn in-game rewards. Explore beta testing sites for gamers like Game Tester, Alpha Beta Gamer, and BetaBound – Games to find opportunities to participate in open tests. With each test, document your process and keep a running account of everything you learn. 

4. Build a game tester resume.

As you acquire skills, knowledge, and experience in game testing, you’ll want to build a resume that represents your capabilities. Be sure to list your game tester training, certifications and education you’ve earned, and concrete game tester skills.  

If you’ve participated in any public beta tests, list the games themselves, the bugs and glitches you found, the gameplay features you evaluated, and when the game was (or will be) released to the public.    

Read more: 10 Ways to Enhance Your Resume

5. Apply for game tester jobs. 

For this step, you might find it useful to conduct job searches on a variety of job sites, including general jobs sites like Indeed and Glassdoor, as well as sites specific to the gaming industry like Gaming Jobs Online and Hitmarker

For each job listing, pay attention to salary information, skills and qualifications required, and the role’s related tasks and projects. 

Get started in gaming with Coursera 

Consider taking online gaming courses to build your baseline skills, discover what’s possible for you as a game tester, and familiarize yourself with how the gaming industry works. 

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Game Theory

Popularized by movies such as "A Beautiful Mind," game theory is the mathematical modeling of strategic interaction among rational (and irrational) agents. ...

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400,898 already enrolled

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Average time: 1 month(s)

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Game Theory, Backward Induction, Bayesian Game, Problem Solving

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specialization

Game Design: Art and Concepts

Create Imaginative Games. Design a video game for independent distribution in just four courses.

4.7

(2,063 ratings)

31,609 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 6 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Interactive Storytelling, Game Design Document, Video Game Design, Game Design, Video Game Development, Gameplay, Level Design, Art

Related articles

Article sources

1. Fortune Business Insights. “Gaming Market Size, Share, and COVID-19 Impact, https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/gaming-market-105730.” Accessed May 18, 2022. 

2. Indeed. “Game Tester Salary in the United States, https://www.indeed.com/career/game-tester/salaries.” Accessed May 18, 2022. 

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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