Think a job as a video game tester sounds like a sweet deal? Think again…
A recent exposé by IGN revealed the truth behind the “glamorous lives” of game testers. QA testers put their jobs on the line, dismissing their NDA’s to tell the world the truth about their working conditions. The highlights of the article include the following:
- “Imagine your favorite movie. Now take your favorite 30-second clip from that movie. Now watch that 30-second clip over and over again, 12 hours a day, every day for two months. When you’ve done that, tell me if what you’ve been doing is watching movies all day.”
- “It’s very boring playing a kid’s game over and over.”
- “I work with a guy who has spent the last eight years keeping his nose clean, never in fights with leadership, does whatever is asked of him, and is a freaking QA Ninja when it comes to PC testing. After eight years, he is still paid $14 an hour.” (According to Glassdoor.com, the base salary for hourly QA testers at EA is just over $12/hour and at Blizzard $13/hour.)
- “Keith tells a story about how his employer was too cheap to give him a promised copy of the game he’d work on. He wrote, that ‘after two months and forty hours a week of playing this game, there was no way in hell I was going to buy it.’”
- “They had us stay overtime on the studio for a particular game release, but they never paid those extra hours worked […] It got borderline illegal.” (Game developers aren’t the only ones guilty of this! A while back, I received paperwork about a GameStop lawsuit I was entitled to that listed GameStop’s encouragement of keeping employees late without compensation.)
In addition to the poor working conditions, game testers cite a “healthy family life” as a lacking component, as hours could stretch anywhere from 65 hours to 92. It’s a no-brainer that the spouse might take an issue with this $10+/hour game tester coming home severely late without overtime pay. Hm…think that might cause any financial and emotional strain in your household?!!!
As if the already severe physical and emotional turmoil isn’t enough, why not add an extreme lack of job security in…just for fun? Our primary spokesman, Keith, states, “During training, they told us it’s not a matter of ‘if’ you’ll be laid-off but ‘when.’” What a pleasant first impression and a wonderful welcome to the company…
It may seem as though game testing is a good way into a video gaming career, but from this IGN article, it appears you would only be bestowing a host of ill-tidings upon you and your family…Especially since the layoff trend is to say, “If you’re here [at this cold, heartless meeting] you’ve been let go, pack up your stuff, we’re escorting you out.”
To add insult to injury, game developers often dismiss the advice of “lowly” game testers, even when it comes to fixing bugs. It all comes down to whether the bug can be reproduced, and if it can’t, the final version of the game will include known problems. While it’s understandable a problem can’t be fixed if it can’t be recreated, it doesn’t explain why developers blatantly ignore tester’s suggestions. Yet, who is blamed for bugs within games? The testers. “The company blames us for all the bugs that make it into the final product […] Producers don’t listen to QA anymore…but if a bug shows up when the game goes live or gold, that’s QA’s fault, even if QA previously reported it as an issue.
KitGuru says: You may want to rethink an opportunity to work as a game tester, but hey, give it a go and hope that your experience is better than the game testers interviewed.