For the serious gamers out there, being a professional game tester might sound like a dream job. However, the responsibilities involved are far more complex than just getting paid to sit on a couch and play games all day. Video games are vigorously tested before they are released, and testers are expected to find all potential bugs. They may be asked to run through every line of possible dialogue to check for errors, test compatibility with graphics cards, or even simply turn the game on and off to determine load time. The tasks of a game tester are often tedious and time consuming. Just as much time is spent writing reports as gaming, but the electronic entertainment industry takes testing very seriously, and for the dedicated tester, it can become a solid career.
Build your qualifications. Having a love of video games isn't going to be enough. You will need to be familiar with most gaming consoles, personal computers and handheld devices. A background in computer science or electronics is often helpful as well. Testers also need to be strong writers as well as have experience in creating data reports.
Some developers will open up the opportunity for unpaid beta testers to try out their unfinished product before it launches. Though this sort of work is not nearly as rigorous as professional testing, being involved in a beta test is useful experience and can be added to your resume. Find out what major companies have games in development, and check their websites regularly to find out if a beta test is opening up.
Research your local game developers. Find out what opportunities are available to you. All developers will have a careers section on their website. Even if they don't have any testing positions open, visit these sites often so as to stay on top of any new opportunities. Some sites allow you to create a profile that will alert you to job openings that match your field of interest. Others have RSS feeds so that you can see openings appear as they are posted.
Make contacts. Go to gaming conventions and talk to industry professionals. Though it's rarely appropriate to ask strangers at conventions to give you a job, it doesn't hurt to ask for advice or tips on getting into the field. If there aren't any conventions in your area, search for relevant online forums, and ask your questions there.
Distinguish yourself from the competition. Given the popular conception of game testing as simply a way to get paid to play, the number of hopefuls trying to break into this field is huge. Show your potential employers that you understand the nature of the work and that you take it seriously. Dress professionally. Create a resume showing your qualifications. Don't use gamer slang or leetspeak when writing to new contacts for the first time. Treat it as you would any other job.
Start applying. Many game developers will take unsolicited resumes and cover letters to keep on file, though you will want to double check their individual policies regarding this. Make it clear that you are interested in a career in quality control or error reporting. Show that you have a commitment to the product rather than just a desire to game. Before applying to a new company, familiarize yourself with their games, and make mention of your experience with their products in your cover letter.
Don't get discouraged if you aren't successful right away. Stay up-to-date with new opportunities. Keep trying. As with any competitive field, persistence usually pays off in the end.