There are few positions as coveted by hardcore gamers as becoming one of the official video game beta testers for Microsoft and their Xbox 360 console. Beta testers are provided builds of the game months before they are released on store shelves, allowing them to get into the game long before casual gamers have even heard of it. It also gives gamers a chance to weigh in on what they liked and disliked, shaping the final product. Becoming an Xbox beta tester takes time, patience and skill but the reward for being persistent is worth it.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Start doing research on the company and keep tabs on any Microsoft Xbox news you hear. They will often put out a call for beta testers in the release versions of other games. Decide if you want to be an at home part-time tester or actually get into the studio and help the programming staff work out the kinks in new games. Either way you can start off as an unpaid tester to gain experience (Reference 1).
Train yourself to see the game like a programmer instead of a consumer. Take an Xbox-exclusive video game and spend a day intentionally trying to accomplish things that seem like they are off-limits, then write down any bugs you have found. Dedicate yourself to doing this for a single level, then a full game to get the feel for what testing is like on the Xbox 360 (Reference 3).
Learn about major concepts that programmers talk about, such as collision detection, polygon count, broken geometry and others, that you will have to succinctly relay to Xbox game programmers in your reports (Reference 2). A lot of information is available online, or you can enrol in a video game design course at a local college or university.
Get noticed in the industry as a person who knows games. Set up your own blog or website dedicated to video games. Make contacts by doing interviews with designers, programmers and other contacts who can you introduce to Microsoft's hiring staff. Finally, apply to Microsoft as a game tester (Resource 1).
Tips and warnings
- Stay motivated throughout the process. Beta testing video games for a living can be a tedious process as you explore a single level countless times searching for each glitch. Try to keep in mind why you got into the business in the first place (hopefully your love of video games) and let that be your motivating force.
- Do not expect video game testing to be nearly as easy or even as fun as playing a game of "Halo" with your friends. To be taken seriously in the video game industry you first and foremost have to treat game testing as a career.
- Take regular breaks from gaming even if you do not feel tired. Fatigue and muscular issues tend to creep up unannounced, so pre-empt them by taking at least a 10 minute break every hour.
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