The Video Game Tester

The Video Game Tester

Being a Video Game Tester has to be the single funnest gig in the entire universe. While it is true that your first step into becoming a pre-release game tester is to test some seriously flawed games at the moment they start-up. It's actually not that bad.

We explore some of the biggest perks to entering the Video Game Testing industry.

You get paid to play games.

the video game testerFor many people, this is the number 1 reason to enter the testing industry. Much like every industry out there, entry level positions have fairly average pay – But as you continue the pay gets more and more lucrative, for less and less work.

Lead testers (in-house) can receive as much as $80 an hour for their time, and (out of house) Leads can get around $65 an hour. On average, as an out of house lead, I get around the $55 an hour mark, from the comfort of my own home.

You often get free copies of games

On average, a week doesn't go by where I do not get delivered to my home, 1 or 2 free games.

These games are usually given to me quite a while ahead of release and I get them from simply being a games tester. It's basically additional compensation that publishers and developers like to throw in to keep you happy and working for them. The best part is, these games are usually games I haven't tested, so it's exceedingly fun to play them.

Beta testers and some Lead testers work from home.

This is very much the truth. Those who professionally Beta test for a living get to do so from the comfort of their own home, and the same is true for Lead testers. Sure, the pay is better if you are working in house, but I wouldn't trade that for the ability to wake up whenever I want to, put the hours in whenever I want to, and be able to take lunch, unwind, have a break WHENEVER I WANT TO.

This leads me to my next point.

No boss breathing down your neck

Even working in-house, working at putting pre-release video games through their paces rarely gets someone breathing down your neck. Sure, if you're in-house and it's crunch time, things can get a bit hectic – especially if you're a lead.

But your job doesn't change, and the expectancy of the people around you doesn't either.

In all the time of testing, there was only two times I've ever had someone breathing down my neck and both times it was my fault.

Here's a common question: "But don't you have to play the game to absolute completion?"

This is where people get confused. People who have never been a Video Game Tester before in their lives state things like, "You'll have to do everything 1000 times, walk on every single part of the game, do everything with a gun and a sword, and do it 100,000 times."

That couldn't be farther from the truth. Many top studios these days employ "natural testing," meaning that you simply play the game the way you want to play it.

Sometimes you will get specific things, like "We have had problems with this scene, we think we have patched it, but could you create a save file just before it and fool around in there for a few hours", but this is pretty rare.

Base roles earn up to $150 a day

We are talking about the very base roles. Just jumping into the role of the tester of video games will get you this amount of pay. It's pretty "base wage" but it's nice. Getting to play games before they are released is really cool!

As I've stated elsewhere, I'm currently playing a pretty well known market product, months and months ahead of release. There is another game that I'm testing that is still over a year away!

It's pretty awesome playing these games, and I love both of them a lot. As a Lead Game Tester, I don't get crap games to play, and in fact, I can CHOOSE the games I wish to test.

Influence the way the game is made

Once again usually only for the Lead testers, but it is very possible to influence the way a game is made. In some of the recent games I have tested, I've been directly responsible for at least 10 noticeable changes to the game. Sure some of it is small stuff, UI changes, etc – but some of it is directly responsible for how a portion of the game plays.


There is nothing like being a video game tester. I get to play games from the comfort of my own home and I get paid for it. I can put in as many hours as I want and if it is crunch time I can make up to $800 a day. It's pretty great stuff, and I love it.