The Internet Breeds Misinformation - A Rant

I've been seeing an ad every time I log in to face book that makes me want to laugh because it's so absurd. There's a banner that shows up on the left of the screen fairly often that claims you can "get paid to game".

That's not the absurd part. I'm a QA tester. I already know I can get paid to play games, because that's how I currently make a living. So I had to wonder what this ad could possibly be getting at. What new information did it have to offer that I didn't already know? So I clicked the ad, and it took me here:


As soon as I saw this I knew it looked like a scam. But I was still curious about what it was advertising, so I skimmed through the page to see what it was all about. What a load of crap! This site is nothing but a page full of misinformation and outright lies. It's designed to pray on gullible people who are easily taken advantage of. Let me punch some holes in it for you.

First, nobody in their right mind is going to pay you $120 to play a video game. Trust me. I test games professionally and I'm nearly at the peak of my pay scale. It's nowhere near $120/hour. To put things in perspective, $120/hour would work out to around $230,400 annually if you did this full time. A QA tester will never make that kind of money. Hell, a Programmer likely won't even make that kind of money. In games, testing is the bottom of the totem pole. I've worked as a tester at the biggest game company in the world, and I still didn't make anything close to what this site claims you can earn. Take that $120/hour and remove a zero. Then you're closer to the mark.

Second, I highly doubt game companies are just going to send you copies of games before they're released so you can test them out and tell them what you think. Anybody ever heard of an NDA? If not, read back to older posts. I've ranted about them once before. The point is that the industry is so afraid of bad press and losing money that it doesn't take things like early software releases and perceived security leaks lightly. Besides that, most companies already employ a team of QA testers like me to do exactly that. If they need extra eyes from the public, they might use a public focus group, but even that's rare. If it's a larger game like an MMO that needs mass testing, it goes into a public beta. "Public" equals "unpaid".

Third, the site claims you can test games with no formal education. This may just be my own personal opinion, but I call bullshit! It's true that you can be a QA tester with no experience. But it's not likely to happen, and these days, most companies looking for QA testers are looking for candidates with previous relevant experience in the games industry, just like any other skilled job. Game testing is very technical and requires good analytical and communications skills. "I play World of Warcraft 28 hours a day" doesn't count as skills or experience. "Testing" games and "playing" games aren't actually the same thing, contrary to popular belief. The site is correct in saying that games is a $50 billion dollar business, But do you really think these companies are going to trust the integrity of their multi-billion-dollar investments to a bunch of average schmoes who bought a book from some guy's website?

I get a kick out of question 3 in the FAQ near the bottom of the page. It's got a bunch of pictures from some recently released games (and Age of Conan, which is still unreleased as of yet) with the phrase "...all these games have been tested before relase" (and note the spelling error I just copied/pasted from the page). It's true they have been tested. Every piece of software you've ever purchased has been tested before release. That should be a no-brainer. But nowhere on the page does it state that the author tested these specific titles. You know where those games were tested? By an internal QA team that worked for either the developer or the publisher, or maybe a hired gun who contracts out QA services for a fee.

I've already ripped apart question 4, so I won't get into it.

Question 5 is also full of misinformation. Guess what folks? Aside from public betas, pre-release software titles are NOT tested on retail hardware. Chances are pre-release software won't even work on your home console. Game development studios typically use very expensive developer versions of the console hardware. So unless you own a stack of stolen dev-kits that you bought from a greasy guy out of the back of a nondescript white van, it's not very likely you're going to be able to test any of this software from home. And if you're working at the game company, you're not going to pick the console you work with. You'll test what you're told to, on the whatever consoles the game is being developed for.

Please do not fall for this. Please do not buy this book. There are no magic secrets to be learned about getting a job game testing beyond what you should already know about job searching. And there's definitely no fortune to be made playing games.

Now here's the real information on how to get paid to test video games. I offer it to you for free.

1.) Get an education. Learn excellent written and verbal communication skills. Learn problem-solving skills. Learn to think logically and analytically.

2.) Go to a game or digital arts school. Work on a mod. Make your own game. Learn a little bit about the development pipeline and how a game is put together.

3.) You want to know where to find testing jobs? Apply to the game development studios as a QA tester. Send a resume and a cover letter. Go to some job interviews. It's just like finding any other job.

4.) If you want a $120/hour paycheque, become a doctor or a lawyer or a drug dealer. You won't find that kind of money in games.

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