Game Employment Rises In The United States

Dec 22, 2009

It’s every gamers fantasy: To actually be there and help create a video game. Any secondary gaming fantasy can’t be printed because I’m trying to keep this PG, but I’m sure it involves chocolate sauce and the bikini girls of Dead or Alive. has released a report about the gaming industry and a slight increase in employment in North America. Although you might scoff at how ‘slight’ it may be, seeing as how it increased from 44,400 to 44,806, those 406 newly employed people are making their dreams come true.

With that being said, it’s no big surprise that California is the spearhead for developers in the United States. I got an exclusive interview for GGS in the form of a recently employed PlayStation game tester for Sony. His name is Ryan Durkin and he had some interesting things to say about his job if anyone’s curious about that first step into the world of gaming.

How long have you been working as a game tester?
Ryan Durkin: I’ve been working as a game tester since June of 2009.

What does a game tester look for and do while they play?
RD: What a game tester does is find anything out of the ordinary a game might have. For example if there are three bosses and you’re able to kill two bosses and unable to get to the third, that would be a bug. We also check for legal bugs: for example if there’s a Nike symbol in the game, we have to write that up because the developers might not have permission from Nike to use that symbol. Or if PlayStation isn’t copyrighted or spelled in the right format that has to be written up. It’s really the little things you have to notice, you need a keen eye.

What is it like working for Sony? Do you get any cool perks?
RD: Working at Sony is definitely a feeling I enjoy a lot. The only cool perks about working as a game tester, or as Sony likes to call it “Game Test Analyst”, is that you get to brag that you play video games for eight hours.

Do you go into an office or do you play at home?
RD: You have to go in to an office. They don’t trust anyone to take home a game and just test it there. Believe me: Grandma’s Boy does have a few flaws where some of things they do in [the film] are wrong, but if I did play at home I’d go crazy.

Is there a lot of downtime between jobs? Is it a full time job or do you do it when they call you in?
RD: It’s a lot of both. All titles that you get called in for is full time work but you’re only there for a certain amount time. It could range from two weeks to eight weeks depending on the title and the release date.

Do you have any other experience in the gaming industry? (Like tournaments and etc)
RD: I wouldn’t say this is my only gaming experience, I am very familiar with MLG (Major League Gaming). I did travel to go to tournaments about a year ago, it was very exciting. It was a different culture because there weren’t any stereotypical gamers there, it was just full of cool and relaxed people that enjoyed the same things.

Would you stay in this job or are you interested in another branch of the industry?
RD: Definitely another branch. Although game testing is a fun, relaxing, and comfortable environment, I don’t want to be testing games for the next 10 years. The part of the branch I’m more drawn in to is the development or brainstorming area.

Can you say anything to people who are interested in working in the gaming industry, as some kind of nugget of wisdom or encouragement?
RD: If gaming is really something you enjoy and love to do, then becoming a game tester is a great way to get your foot in the door to whatever you want to do in the gaming industry.

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  1. Martee Warree /

    I’m currently doing a Games Design Degree at university, and I’m hoping that the increase in employment carries on for my sake :P

  2. Vikki Blake /

    That’s fantastic. Where abouts are you studying?

    A great insight into the life of a tester, Sarah. Thanks, Ryan, for your time. :)

    • Martee Warree /

      I’m studying at Leeds Metropolitan University, which I know doesn’t have the best reputation, though for a course that is quite ‘niche’ and new, it’s a great university, they have full licenses for 3D Studio Max, ZBrush, Photoshop, Motion, Cubase……… you name it, and they have it…
      They also have music studios, foley sound recording studios and from what I’ve heard, they’re the only university that currently has a Motion Capture studio which is really great.
      It’s all about how much effort you put into your course, and I would suggest that if anyone is interested in the Games Design Course at Leeds Met but are put off by it’s ‘Metropolitan’ status, they should think twice, because it provides everything you need to learn the ins and outs of Game Production.

      • Vikki Blake /

        Hey, nothing wrong with a Met. ;) The ‘new’ universities usually have a better grasp and set-up when it comes to ‘newer’ subjects, such as gaming, media etc.

  3. Kelly/MrsViolence /

    Great Interview!

    • Sarah Grace /

      Yeah, I’ve known Ryan awhile now. I knew he was passionate about gaming, but that’s really something else for him to actually be productive and turn it into a job lol.

  4. Steve Wood /

    I would adore being a game tester!
    I’d never do anything else in my life because I would be at work 24/7 … What an amazing job.

    • Krishna M. /

      You might think otherwise once you see how much testers make. I think it’s about ten dollars an hour. If you worked for forty hours a week, that comes out to about $20,000 a year, which isn’t that great.

      I myself used to be enrolled at Westwood College, in the Game Art and Design program, but I dropped out after a year and a half due to the poor curriculum (and the fact that you don’t learn anything if you do it online).

      One thing that I did learn, though, was that both getting into the games industry as well as being a part of it is rough work. Getting in usually requires the prospective employee to have worked on or made his/her own game(s) as well as have the great GPA. Working for the games industry is almost like being a doctor. If you don’t mind working lots of overtime, then it might be good for you.

      It’s not as great as it sounds, something I learned the hard way. It’s A LOT more fun playing games.

      Thanks for the article!

      • Sarah Grace /

        Krishna’s right! It’s very hard and not all play-with-no work. I’ve heard horror stories of working overtime with no pay. Buuuuut…I think any job in the media, when you start out, is going to be rough.

        I’ve read enough of Bruce Campbell’s biography to have a clear grasp of how hard it is to make it in Hollywood. No, really, hear me out! Much less in the cutthroat world of Gaming. It’s just being realistic. For every prodigy that puts a game out there, there’s a team of 20-40 people behind him who do most of the work, even if it’s not as glamorous and involves being a game analyst for Sony lol.

        Game testing may be on the lowest rung, and it IS often referred to has “getting your foot in the door”, but most of the people that do it are enthusiastic and young, and us casual people — like Steve and I — are giddy with dreams to do the same.

        • Sarah Grace /

          Oh, and also — another reason it’s hard to do much in the gaming industry is precisely why this article was created — the job market in America isn’t as big as it is overseas, but it IS improving. But not any average Joe can just waltz in, basically.

  5. Ryan D /

    Sorry I haven’t been looking in this area for awhile! Job has been keeping my ass busy! 8)


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