Dear Mr. Sloper,
My passion is to work in games. For now, since I'm just a high school kid, my best option for jumping in, before I get through college, is... as a tester. I've been doing my homework (researching "game testers" on the Internet) and I came across this website: [URL deleted]. This site says I can earn up to $80 per hour testing games, which sounds really really good to me. I mean, if I can make $80 per hour this summer, that'd be really really good in my savings account as I go into my senior year and start thinking about which colleges to apply to. But here's my problem. This site wants me to buy a membership, in order to be notified of game testing jobs I can apply for.
The cost of that membership may not seem like a lot to a working adult, but it's a lot to me (you know - "just a high school kid"). If I buy that membership, what are the chances that I'll get a game testing job that pays $80 per hour? If they're greater than 50%, that'd be totally worth it to me. So, what's the deal, is that site for real, or is it a scam?
Anxious to get started
I'll get the really bad news part out of the way first. Unless you live within a couple miles of a game company that has a lax hiring policy and is very desperate for temporary testers, you probably cannot get any kind of testing job for the summer.
That said... Publishers sometimes want to get a bunch of end users to try out their games in the home, and sometimes they might even pay a nominal fee to get that kind of feedback. I call that "beta testing," to differentiate it from the full-time job of Q.A. (Quality Assurance) testing. If a publisher paid someone, say, $500 to playtest a game for six and a quarter hours, that would come out to $80 per hour. Giving [URL deleted] the benefit of the doubt, maybe this is what they're talking about when they refer to $80/hour testing "jobs."
But I think that at best, sites like that one are misleading. An hourly rate should only be mentioned in reference to a regular job, one that runs for months at least, if not years. $80/hour is more than most game programmers and producers make. If you work a 40-hour week for $80/hour, that calculates out to over $150,000 per year. No way does any company pay testers that much! Another of those gamer testing websites promises "up to $120 per hour" to those who buy a membership. Do the math. $120 per hour calculates out to over $225,000 per year. That's as much as the CEOs of some triple-A publishers make!
X-Files fans say "I want to believe." And Hemingway said, "Isn't it pretty to think so." But if you don't live within easy reach of a game company, and if your local friendly neighborhood game company won't give a summer testing job to a high school kid, then you need to look elsewhere for a job to keep you employed throughout the summer. And it's going to pay a lot less than [URL deleted] would like you to believe. Don't give money to someone who tries to feed you lies like that.
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