Video Games Tester – Do You Have What It Takes?

There are some fundamental characteristics that are exhibited my most successful testers that help them do well in this job market. If you are looking for video game tester jobs it certainly helps to enjoy playing these kinds of games, and in most cases the time spent in gaming activities has improved your eye-hand coordination to the point that you have good gaming skills and an understanding of game play beyond the average person.

Unfortunately most “want to-be” game testers fool themselves into believing that a love of video gaming and some talent is all that is required to be successful at game tester jobs and get paid to play games all day long. Should you be fortunate enough to be hired under this false sense of understanding, you will be in for a rude awakening, and in many cases not last long in any game testers jobs.

It is vital that we make an important distinction between being paid to test video games and video game beta testing. Game beta testing is done by volunteers, who usually test the full version of the game just before the release date looking for any last minute problems to report. No payment is generally involved for game beta testing other than getting to play a new game before the general public sees it. This article focuses on the actual job where people get paid to play video type games in the role of testers.

Welcome to the “real world” of being a paid video games tester. Your job is very important despite the fact that you are often making only minimum wages as an entry level games tester. The fate of the gaming development company is on your shoulders since you are the ones who must find any problems or “bugs” within the game so they can be fixed or eliminated before the game can be sold to the buying public. No game development company can afford to have a “lemon” or seriously flawed game released to the public. It could cost them millions of dollars in research and development and destroy their reputation in the competitive game marketplace for a long time.

Game testers jobs may require you to work on many repetitive tasks such as playing the same level of the game numerous times, switching the gaming device on and off over and over, checking and rechecking in-game messaging capabilities, and the list goes on. Close to the release date of the game, you may be requested to work extended hours to ensure any and all potential problems with the video game have been identified by your team of video game testers and still be fixed in time.

So what kind of job qualities do you need to be a successful paid video games tester? Given the kinds of work that you will be required to do, especially as an entry level tester, the following qualities will serve you well.

Are you…

willing to do the same task over and over again looking for potential problems?
a patient person who understands that some testing tasks may take a great deal of time and cannot be rushed through to get done as quickly as possible?
very deliberate and meticulous in your approach to finding problems and solving problems?
not easily bored as you may required to do video game testing tasks that are very dull and repetitive?
a team player, as most often you will be part of a group of video game testers working on different parts of the same game, so you need to relate and get along well with others.
capable of following explicit directions about a task and not prone to trying to “do your own thing”?
tenacious in your approach to successful accomplishing your game testing tasks and not one who gives up easily if things are not going well?
able to effectively communicate both verbally and in writing very detailed information concerning any “bugs” in the video game you discover so that they can be fixed?
flexible with respect to being “on call” for possible shift work or having to put in extra hours if required by your development team leader?
able to deal with job pressure and stress effectively, especially when given job deadlines to meet?
capable of “keeping job secrets”, since as a paid video game tester you will be required to never discuss your testing work outside the testing site or face instant job termination and possible criminal charges if you do.
These job qualities are certainly not “written in stone” as the only ones that matter to be a successful games tester, however they do provide a good starting point for your own self-analysis as to whether or not you could be successful in game tester jobs. Do you have what it takes to be a video games tester?

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History of Video Games – The First Video Game Ever Made?

As an avid retro-gamer, for quite a long time I’ve been particularly interested in the history of video games. To be more specific, a subject that I am very passionate about is “Which was the first video game ever made?”… So, I started an exhaustive investigation on this subject (and making this article the first one in a series of articles that will cover in detail all video gaming history).

The question was: Which was the first video game ever made?

The answer: Well, as a lot of things in life, there is no easy answer to that question. It depends on your own definition of the term “video game”. For example: When you talk about “the first video game”, do you mean the first video game that was commercially-made, or the first console game, or maybe the first digitally programmed game? Because of this, I made a list of 4-5 video games that in one way or another were the beginners of the video gaming industry. You will notice that the first video games were not created with the idea of getting any profit from them (back in those decades there was no Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Sega, Atari, or any other video game company around). In fact, the sole idea of a “video game” or an electronic device which was only made for “playing games and having fun” was above the imagination of over 99% of the population back in those days. But thanks to this small group of geniuses who walked the first steps into the video gaming revolution, we are able to enjoy many hours of fun and entertainment today (keeping aside the creation of millions of jobs during the past 4 or 5 decades). Without further ado, here I present the “first video game nominees”:

1940s: Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device

This is considered (with official documentation) as the first electronic game device ever made. It was created by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. The game was assembled in the 1940s and submitted for an US Patent in January 1947. The patent was granted December 1948, which also makes it the first electronic game device to ever receive a patent (US Patent 2,455,992). As described in the patent, it was an analog circuit device with an array of knobs used to move a dot that appeared in the cathode ray tube display. This game was inspired by how missiles appeared in WWII radars, and the object of the game was simply controlling a “missile” in order to hit a target. In the 1940s it was extremely difficult (for not saying impossible) to show graphics in a Cathode Ray Tube display. Because of this, only the actual “missile” appeared on the display. The target and any other graphics were showed on screen overlays manually placed on the display screen. It’s been said by many that Atari’s famous video game “Missile Command” was created after this gaming device.

1951: NIMROD

NIMROD was the name of a digital computer device from the 50s decade. The creators of this computer were the engineers of an UK-based company under the name Ferranti, with the idea of displaying the device at the 1951 Festival of Britain (and later it was also showed in Berlin).

NIM is a two-player numerical game of strategy, which is believed to come originally from the ancient China. The rules of NIM are easy: There are a certain number of groups (or “heaps”), and each group contains a certain number of objects (a common starting array of NIM is 3 heaps containing 3, 4, and 5 objects respectively). Each player take turns removing objects from the heaps, but all removed objects must be from a single heap and at least one object is removed. The player to take the last object from the last heap loses, however there is a variation of the game where the player to take the last object of the last heap wins.

NIMROD used a lights panel as a display and was planned and made with the unique purpose of playing the game of NIM, which makes it the first digital computer device to be specifically created for playing a game (however the main idea was showing and illustrating how a digital computer works, rather than to entertain and have fun with it). Because it doesn’t have “raster video equipment” as a display (a TV set, monitor, etc.) it is not considered by many people as a real “video game” (an electronic game, yes… a video game, no…). But once again, it really depends on your point of view when you talk about a “video game”.

1952: OXO (“Noughts and Crosses”)

This was a digital version of “Tic-Tac-Toe”, created for an EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) computer. It was designed by Alexander S. Douglas from the University of Cambridge, and one more time it was not made for entertainment, it was part of his PhD Thesis on “Interactions between human and computer”.

The rules of the game are those of a regular Tic-Tac-Toe game, player against the computer (no 2-player option was available). The input method was a rotary dial (like the ones in old telephones). The output was showed in a 35×16-pixel cathode-ray tube display. This game was never very popular because the EDSAC computer was only available at the University of Cambridge, so there was no way to install it and play it anywhere else (until many years later when an EDSAC emulator was created available, and by that time many other excellent video games where available as well…).

1958: Tennis for Two

“Tennis for Two” was created by William Higinbotham, a physicist working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. This game was made as a way of entertainment, so laboratory visitors had something funny to do during their wait on “visitors day” (finally!… a video game that was created “just for fun”…) . The game was pretty well designed for its era: the ball behavior was modified by several factors like gravity, wind velocity, position and angle of contact, etc.; you had to avoid the net as in real tennis, and many other things. The video game hardware included two “joysticks” (two controllers with a rotational knob and a push button each) connected to an analog console, and an oscilloscope as a display.

“Tennis for Two” is considered by many the first video game ever created. But once again, many others differ from that idea stating that “it was a computer game, not a video game” or “the output display was an oscilloscope, not a “raster” video display… so it does not qualify as a video game”. But well… you can’t please everyone…

It is also rumored that “Tennis for Two” was the inspiration for Atari’s mega hit “Pong”, but this rumor has always been strongly denied… for obvious reasons.

1961: Spacewar!

“Spacewar!” video game was created by Stephen Russell, with the help of J. Martin Graetz, Peter Samson, Alan Kotok, Wayne Witanen and Dan Edwards from MIT. By the 1960s, MIT was “the right choice” if you wanted to do computer research and development. So this half a dozen of innovative guys took advantage of a brand-new computer was ordered and expected to arrive campus very soon (a DEC PDP-1) and started thinking about what kind of hardware testing programs would be made. When they found out that a “Precision CRT Display” would be installed to the system, they instantly decided that “some sort of visual/interactive game” would be the demonstration software of choice for the PDP-1. And after some discussion, it was soon decided to be a space battle game or something similar. After this decision, all other ideas came out pretty quick: like rules of the game, designing concepts, programming ideas, and so forth.

So after about 200 man/hours of work, the first version of the game was at last ready to be tested. The game consisted of two spaceships (affectively named by players “pencil” and “wedge”) shooting missiles at each other with a star in the middle of the display (which “pulls” both spaceships because of its gravitational force). A set of control switches was used to control each spaceship (for rotation, speed, missiles, and “hyperspace”). Each spaceship have a limited amount of fuel and weapons, and the hyperspace option was like a “panic button”, in case there is no other way out (it could either “save you or break you”).

The computer game was an instant success between MIT students and programmers, and soon they started making their own changes to the game program (like real star charts for background, star/no star option, background disable option, angular momentum option, among others). The game code was ported to many other computer platforms (since the game required a video display, a hard to find option in 1960s systems, it was mostly ported to newer/cheaper DEC systems like the PDP-10 and PDP-11).

Spacewar! is not only considered by many as the first “real” video game (since this game does have a video display), but it also have been proved to be the true predecessor of the original arcade game, as well as being the inspiration of many other video games, consoles, and even video gaming companies (can you say “Atari”?…). But that’s another story, arcade games as well as console video games were written in a different page of the history of video games (so stay tuned for future articles on these subjects).

So here they are, the “First Video Game” nominees. Which one do you think is the first video game ever made?… If you ask me, I think all these games were revolutionary for its era, and should be credited as a whole as the beginners of the video gaming revolution. Instead of looking for which one was the first video game, what is really important i

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