Back in 2006 I had the “best job in the world”. I was a games tester! Who as a kid hasn’t fantasised about doing this job? Even as an adult it garners respect. Around that time I was in a bar with my flatmate, a qualified doctor, trying to chat up some girls. Even though he literally saves people’s lives for a living they were more interested in finding out about my job!
The easiest way to explain about my experience is just to answer the most frequently asked questions I get asked about this absolute blag of a job!
Who did you work for?
I worked for EA Games. Obviously EA are constantly in the spotlight for the ever ingenious new ways they terrorise their customers with ‘pay to win’ schemes, but at the time it wasn’t as bad. Love them or hate them, they have been responsible for some my all-time favourite games and the prospect of working for them and being directly employed in the gaming industry was an exciting one.
What games did you play?
I am credited as being a member of the QA Team for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and also Black, Criterion’s venture into the world of first person shooters. With Potter it was all hands on deck to get the game finished in time for the release of the film. With Black, it was a smaller team where we were encouraged to make suggestions directly to the developer on how the game played. Hilariously this in generated my very own IMDB profile so maybe a career in the movies is on the cards!
I also tested Namco Arcade Museum, Battlefield II and We Heart Katamari.
How did you get the job?
My friend Josh (who also plays guitar for The Horrors, check them out!) initially got a job there doing the same thing. He informed me that to apply I just had to call the job agency that was filling the roles for EA at the time, just like any other job really! After a quick phone interview with the agency they were happy to give me an interview.
The interview itself was surprisingly intensive, taking about three hours in total and coming in three parts. There were about forty people that arrived in total, and only so many roles to fill so it was time to get my competitive head on!
The first part was a maths test in which I had twenty minutes to answer as many questions correctly as possible. Being a little swot who loves a test, I smashed this out the park! However twenty did not make the cut after this step.
The second part was an observation test in which we had to check graphs of data against tables and recognise where there were deliberate discrepancies within the information. This seemed more relevant to the job we were applying for. This was a little more challenging but I survived the next cull of a further five people.
The final step was a team exercise where we had to pretend we were stuck in the desert with twenty different items. We then had to rank the importance of each one in order of how crucial it would be to our survival. Items included things like water, a raincoat, matches, etc. I already knew from my man on the inside that the most important item was the mirror to reflect the sun and signal for help! However I think the main goal of this exercise was to see how well we worked in a team. I remember that after this phase they were happy with the final group’s performance and we all got hired!
What did it pay?
I received £9 per hour for a 40 hour week. Pretty good at the time.
What did you actually do?
Every day we received new builds of the current version of each game we tested. The first part of our task was to locate bugs and break the game wherever possible. Graphical issues like flickering sprites or clipping were considered less important than game ending bugs like crashes and hangs. Any bug we found would require us to recreate the bug as many times as possible, then accurately describe how to recreate it so the developers can locate the issue themselves.
The second part of our job was to check to see if the bugs you previously report have been fixed. In the alpha phase we were super busy.
The third part of our jobs was to check that all formats and regions of the game were working fine, doing speedruns, 100 per cent completions and making sure you could collect all items and get killed by every enemy.
Why are you not still there?
I ended up staying there for 9 months, 3 months more than my original 6 month contract allowed me. It was an interesting and rewarding role, but I had a two hour commute to get there from London (they are based in Surrey) and it eventually that took its toll on me. There’s only so much time I can spend sat on my arse playing games all day!
All in all, I had a blast working for EA games. They treat their staff very well, making sure we had a break every 2 hours, seating us in chairs that cost over £1000 and generally having a great atmosphere in the office. They paid for our food, they got people involved in the development process and they gave us massive discounts on games as well. If you get the opportunity it’s a fantastic way to obtain some industry experience, and it’s so cool having my name in the credits of some games. Next step is to get some more sound credits to my name!
What would be your dream job in the gaming industry? Let me know :)