When asked what they enjoy most about being a member of the uTest community, testers regularly cite the variety of projects and the pay that comes with them. For proof on both fronts, you can check out the Paid Projects threads in the uTest Forums.
Unfortunately, variety and compensation aren’t always the good parts about being a tester. In fact, they can be the worst parts of the job. Case in point: The gaming industry. Specifically, video game testers.
What may seem like a dream job for many (wait, you’re going to pay me to play video games?) is actually something of a nightmare according to Jimmy Thang, a writer for ign.com. In his recent article The Tough Life of a Games Tester, Thang interviews game testers who’ve decided to break their NDAs and speak out against the tedious tasks, low pay, lack of respect and other plagues of their profession.
I highly encourage you to read the entire article, but here are a few quick excerpts that I found interesting:
While the job may sound like a dream come true, Reuben says it’s really not about getting paid to play games all day. “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. I’m willing to bet you’ll find that it’s not quite the same thing…You get an area of the game, that’s your area, and you test everything about that one area for months on end.”
Companies often pay contractors a higher base pay in lieu of benefits, but Danny only made $10 an hour. Extrapolating this data, means the average salary for a full-time position is roughly a meager $20,800. The federal minimum wage is $7.25, but game-testers are information workers, not burger flippers. It takes skill and knowledge to test and judge a game.
Lack of Respect
While financial benefits are one form of compensation, Danny believes that respect is also severely lacking. “We deserve to be treated like regular employees, instead of someone you don’t invite to your Christmas party but then tell them to have their own last minute [party] in another building through the back entrance…True story.”
Still want to be a games tester? On a broader note, is testing this bad in other industries? As always, your comments are welcome.