Many young professionals look for a starting off point for their careers in the video game industry and often find themselves turning to video game testing. In order to get an idea of the realities of video game testing as a career path we sat down with Henry Lamkin who has been professionally testing video games for the last three years.
Lamkin started his testing career through an internship with Digital Dream Forge a locally headquartered quality assurance studio in Scottsdale, Arizona. Since then he has participated in testing for virtually every genre of video game.
“Game testing is about trying to break games,” explained Lamkin and continued, “It is repetitive and it is boring, but it’s something that needs to be done.”
Lamkin had very strong opinions about some of the misconceptions that people bring to the video game industry when looking for a career. “I think about 99 percent of people going into the industry don’t actually know what the industry entails,” said Lamkin and went on to explain, “Whether you are doing game testing, design, programming, art, or whatever you are doing, it all requires repetition.”
Having worked on dozens of different testing projects Lamkin has also experienced what companies really look for in their testers. “Companies want somebody who is really detail oriented and who can follow clear direction,” Lamkin added, “The misconception is that you are playing a video game. You get to play a little section of a game, and if you break it you have to remember what you did.”
Lamkin also explained how this work (testing) translates to the actual designers, artists, and programmers of the games themselves. “You have to remember the steps you took to get there and in many times recreate it, because they can’t fix it unless they know exactly how you did it.”
Having worked in the industry for several years Lamkin also touched on the steep competition that exists within game testing positions, “This is an entertainment industry, if you are not willing to compete with others it is not the way to go.”
Despite the competition, repetitiveness, and strict expectations of companies Lamkin pointed out why game testing is such a good starting off point for anybody interested in pursuing a career in video games. “Plenty of people say everybody should be a waiter so they can experience it and understand why serving food is necessary, and why it’s so hard to do, and why some of the people serving you are so miserable. In the same way, as bad as it sounds, I think everybody should do the same with game testing.” Lamkin elaborates, “It’s a great way to get your name known, and whether you are going to become an artist or a programmer it’s a wonderful way to sit down with a game and see how those improvements get made, how to explain those improvements, and how to communicate better with everybody.”
Lamkin ended on a positive note by explaining, “There are so many great designers that started out as testers, and despite working in something so repetitive and at times boring, you’re still in the video game industry, and if that’s where you want to be it is always worth it.”