Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Five Things Developers Look for in their Game Testers

If you’re interested in becoming a top game tester in the game development field, there are a few things you should look for up front. These traits will help you stand out among the thousands of applicants most developers meet every single year when filling positions. 

Work Ethic
As a game tester, you will rarely be given a specific breakdown of tasks every day to perform. While you may be given a quota for gameplay and will probably need to work through a variety of bug tracking scripts in the QA phase, more realistically, you will need to work by yourself, constantly pushing through content to find problems. 

Problem Solving and Tracking
More importantly, you need to be able to think of ways problems might occur. This isn’t the same as direct problem solving. Rather, you’re thinking of what problems might occur first and documenting them for the programmers. They will do the actual solving – you just provide documentation so they can recreate the bug quickly and fix it fast. 

Programming and Technical Acumen
If you are a programmer already, it can definitely help you in getting into the game testing field. These testers need to be able to not only play the game and find the bugs, but describe them. If you can specifically track a bug and pinpoint why it is happening in the code, you can save the programmers a lot of time. It also makes the promotion path much quicker as you strive for higher paying, more rewarding positions in the company. 

Experience and Position 
If you are 50 years old and have never worked in the game industry, it may be harder to get a position than if you were 22 and just received your college degree in computer information science. This will not necessarily rule you out of a job opportunity, but being young and educated in a related field will definitely help.

Realistic Expectations
If you enter an interview asking about when you get to play new games at home for money, you won’t get hired. The preconceptions about game testing will ruin your job chances instantly if you’re not careful. Know that game testing is a job like any other and that you need to be ready for whatever hardships and learning curve there will be. 

Game testing is a very rewarding field with plenty of opportunities for advancement. If you’re interested in getting your foot in the door, start developing a skillset now. Before you know it, you’ll be ready for the big time. 

Developers want the most out of their game testers – the best way to give them what they’re looking for is with Beta Gaming Testers – your step by step guide to building your resume up to land the ultimate testing job. CLICK HERE

Three Degrees that Will Help You Get into the Gaming Industry

When someone asks how they can get into the gaming industry, there are a number of possible answers. Some people get into the industry by playing with a hobby game at home. Others become chronic open beta testers, standing out as premiere testers in ways that developers will take note of. Others still will go to college and obtain degrees that can lead to a role within a developer. Here are three degrees for all the college bound out there. 

Computer Science 
The easiest way into gaming is through a computer science degree. By far the best paying position in any compute related field is that of a programmer. However, this is also the hardest degree to acquire and your future job will be the most demanding. Programming requires high levels of proficiency in math, logic, and problem solving, as well as the ability to work independently and think non-linearly about potential solutions. If you have a computer science degree, you’ll find it much easier to get into game design. 

Art and Digital Arts
An art degree can help you immensely, especially if you acquire a specialized art degree in digital design or art development. These degrees, often offered at specialty cart colleges will show you how to utilize advanced technology to create three dimensional figures on a computer. Beyond simply getting a degree in digital art, you should also work on developing a portfolio focused on this form of art. Potential employers need to see that you have the specific talents they need. 

Writing and English Composition
Writing is a valuable asset in any industry. If you want to be an asset to a game developer, work on your communications skills. This can extend to creative writing and script development or even translation of texts for localization. A degree in English is general, however, so you will need to work consistently to develop a portfolio that makes you appealing to a potential employer. 

The easiest way to get a job with a game developer is to establish the necessary experience in the gaming industry. This can be done in a number of ways, but first and foremost, you need education. It doesn’t have to be formal education, but it does need to help you focus on what it takes to be successful in this particular industry. Game testing can also be a great way to get a jump start in this field. 

Don’t blindly follow the popular knowledge about game testing. Learn how you can get ready for the best job you’ve ever dreamt of with Beta Gaming Testers – the prep guide from T Dub Sanders. CLICK HERE

Is Video Game Testing Right for You?

imageIf you took a survey of teenagers and twenty-something and asked them what their ideal career would be, I guarantee one of the things you’d find at the top of the list would be “game testing”. This is a career field that has a glamor about it that makes people everywhere think “I want to get paid to play video games!” But, in reality, game testing is a job like any other and it has both its ups and its downs. So, if you are seriously considering a career in this field, keep reading because it is important to know exactly what you might be getting into. 

Testing and Recording
The actual job requirements vary depending on the type of game you are testing and the testing phase in which you are hired. But, for the most part, your job will consist of taking a build of the game, following a very detailed Test case checklist and checking for specific bugs in menus and levels of the game. 

That does not mean you will be able to play through the entire game pre-release. In fact, most of the time, you will work on a game before it is ready for release and is only a handful of levels. In some cases, such as QA testing, you will spend days working through the same level looking for ways to break it and showcase a hole in the programming. 

When you find a bug, you must be skilled not only in catching the entirety of the bug and everything it does to the game, but you must be able to recreate the bug with specific directions. The programmers need to know exactly what causes the glitch so they can work toward fixing it. 

Hours and Pay
For the most part, you will not be able to work from home and you will not be able to choose your own hours. Early in a testing cycle, you might be given some leeway with certain quotas for testing on a daily basis, but as you approach deadlines, you will be asked to work long hours and continuously cycle through new build orders and test cases. It might seem never ending and it can be very tedious. 

Pay is usually entry level for new testers – an hourly rate that is determined by your level of experience. There are positions for high level testers that pay decently, and as you grow in the company you can try to get your foot in the door for other jobs such as programming, development, or design. 

Of course, this article is not meant to discourage. The gaming industry is still a fun career with lots of opportunities, but before you start pursuing a career here, make sure you know what you’re getting into.
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The Programming Languages Required for Video Game Development

If your career goals have you aiming for the game development industry, you’re more than likely planning on becoming a programmer – someone who can code the game on the backend, developing the systems that will support everything the gamers see. However, to get there, you need to focus heavily on the languages that most games are written in.

Of course, you can also study programming in college and get a degree that will surely help you in acquiring a job. Even a two year degree in basic programming can be a major boon in getting a job as a game tester on your way to programming. However, know that most developers do not require degrees in computer science. They simply want you to know what you’re doing, something that is possible with self-study (though it can be harder to prove).
  • C++ - This is the most common and basic of programming languages used in game development. Taught in almost all computer science programs, C++ is the basic Object Oriented Programming language in gaming and will be incredibly easy to find information about. If you need more details or help with specific issues, join the Microsoft developers network – a major resource for all software developers.
  • Java – Java is a powerful web based object oriented programming language. Not nearly as complex or powerful as C++, Java is still a very useful tool to have in your programming toolkit. You’ll use it frequently for all browser based gaming. It can also provide the tools needed to showcase your programming skills in a portfolio.
  • XNA – The XNA programming language is a newer game-only language developed by Microsoft to speed along game development. It reduces repetition and therefore cuts out quite a bit of potential errors and bugs that develop in highly user crafted code.
For the most part, programming is the basis of the gaming industry and the variety of languages used is vast. If you plan on getting into the development field, you should spend time learning what you can and even attending college courses where possible to supplement that knowledge. 

And spend as much time with games as possible. Testing, programming, and design are all good ways to build your own portfolio and prepare for a career in this field. At the end of the day, game development is a very competitive field, but it is also very rewarding, so be persistent and it will definitely pay off eventually. 

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Gaming Fields You Can Jump Into After Testing

imageSo, you’ve got a job or are planning on applying for a job in the game testing field. What happens when you get there and start testing away? Surely, you’ll want to move on eventually and get a higher paying job in the game development field, but what does testing actually set you up for? You’d be surprised how many potential jobs you can land coming out of a successful stint in game testing. 

The Careers
For the most part, there are dozens of different opportunities in game testing. You can be a tester for life if that’s your ambition, building expertise and working toward becoming a lead tester who focuses solely on game development. But, if you want to be more directly involved with the game’s production, you can also strive for roles in the following:
  • Programming – Programmers are the back bone of any game production. There need to be people who can hard code the different pieces of a game as it goes together. You will either need a college degree in computer sciences or previous experience that demonstrates your ability to completely understand the necessary programming languages for the job.
  • Design – Design is dedicated to the production of visual elements in a game. If you want to be a designer, you will need experience with key 3D animation software and advanced hardware tools. There are college programs in digital production and animation, or you can practice on your own to develop a working portfolio.
  • Systems – Systems involves the development of systems, game balance, and online play for a game. It might also include scripting and writing for a game’s story and dialogue, though these roles are less frequently promoted from within a testing staff.
  • Production – If you are truly ambitious you can work your way up to the production staff. Producers are in charge of managing the rest of the development staff, overseeing deadlines and budget concerns, and ensuring the game as a whole is on a good track.
Gaming is a diverse field with dozens of potential career roles. However, it is also a very high stress field when deadlines loom and investors want results. So, while a successful production can lead to bonuses, job offers and a long career, you will also need to be ready for potential negative feedback, long hours, and high demands. If that sounds like the kind of fast moving environment you’ve been looking for, game testing and development may very well be perfect right for you. 

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Can You Get a Degree in Video Games?

While a lot of people are interested in working in the video game industry, few of them have the resources immediately needed to get there. So, they wonder if it is possible to get a college degree that directly prepares you for working on game development.

Luckily, for anyone who has been dreaming since childhood of helping to produce the world’s next big video game, there are degrees in game development, and they are becoming more common.

Finding Degree Programs

Degree programs in video game development are generally available from technical colleges and chain colleges that strive to provide niche degrees. However, it also depends on what aspect of game development you are interested in. For example, while some people are interested more in the development aspect of things, programming and production on a new game project, you might want to work in art design and modeling.

There are specific degrees for 3D animation and video game development offered by Art institutes and academies around the country. In many cases, however, these programs are privately offered, meaning they can cost significantly more than community college or in-state tuition.

For those that are on a budget, the best route might be through secondary certification. While many game developers are starting to turn to degree holding applicants, they do not necessarily rule out people who have a history of successfully producing 3D designs and game models. The same goes for programmers with self-taught experience that can be displayed in a portfolio and CV.

Using Your Degree to Find a Job

If you get a degree in game development, finding a job is not guaranteed. Jobs at game developers are in high demand, so it can take a great deal of time to find them as you compete with other degree holders. However, if you want to eke your way into the industry at an entry level position and prove yourself, game testing may be the best route for you.

Game testers are always in demand and especially if you want to be a programmer, that programming knowledge you’ve developed will come in very handy as you develop your skillsets within the company. No matter how you get there, jobs in the game industry are available – just be persistent and work hard. You’ll get there before you know it.

This is just the beginning. If you really want to be ready for what game testing and the development field has to offer, check out Beta Gaming Testers today. CLICK HERE

Technical Skills that Will Get You Ahead in the Gaming Industry

If your dream is to work in the video game industry, you are probably wondering right now what skillsets will help you most in landing the first job. There are a lot of positions within game developers, and most of them require very specific experience, but these general skillsets will help you immensely in your quest to land one of these jobs.

Programming Skills

Programming is a fundamental skill in all game development. Even if you don’t plan on applying as a programmer, programming skills can help you land jobs in game testing or animation. Testers are asked frequently work on white boxes to determine the roots of a bug in the game. They are also asked to provide detailed data about bugs and programming knowledge will help you better present that information in a bug report.

Data Entry and Processing

While the primary duties of any game developer will be in programming, design, or testing, you will also need to retrieve and input a lot of data every day. This includes bug reports, test cases, and new information going into and out of the computer. Speed and accuracy are key here.

Technical Writing

Directly with data entry, developers are expected to write detailed reports that outline what they have done. Bug reports are required from testers, test cases are required from programmers and builds must be highly documented to ensure the right information is provided to all parties. Hundreds of people provide small bits of input on a major project. To make sure it runs smoothly, they all need to communicate clearly.

Math and Logic

Finally, there is general math and logic. Thinking logically will help you solve problems and postulate new ways to do things in a game. This will come in handy not only in programming but in testing or animation.

Building your reputation in the game industry won’t happen overnight. You must prove to your prospective employers that you have specific skills they need and that you can put them to use in the confines of their corporate environment. If you can do that, you will not only have one foot in the door, you’ll be able to start working your way up quickly. Remember; it’s all about confidence. Show you can do it, and you will be rewarded. 

This is just the beginning. If you really want to be ready for what game testing and the development field has to offer, check out Beta Gaming Testers today. CLICK HERE