Another great way for a young designer to get noticed and build their professional resume is to join a BETA test. I’m currently doing a BETA test for a very cool game by a large game company. Because of the nature of BETA testing, we are bound to the terms of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and thus I can’t reveal the title, genre, or company. Nor can I talk about the game, it’s content, or mechanics.
But, there are a few things I can talk about.
First: the community. Making yourself known in the community is huge toward getting noticed in the game industry. Take good notes as you play and post them in the test forums. Give feedback on other people’s posts, and connect with other users to gain valuable long-term contacts. You never know who you might meet or collaborate with during the testing process.
Second: experience. Any kind of quality assurance (QA) testing looks great on the “projects” portion of your cv. Why? Because you’ve kept records, sniffed out bugs, and gone through a large portion of the game development process. Being knowledgeable of this process can only strengthen you as a designer and make you more attractive to potential employers.
Third: critical thinking. Interfaces, user experience, imagery, gameplay processes, level balancing, troubleshooting, and iteration all require an immense amount of critical thinking. As a tester, you are in the driver’s seat of a massive project. The seemlessness of the game experience you take for granted while playing a finished product is made possible (in large part) by the critical thinking and problem-solving efforts of testers. The more bugs you find, the more solutions you’ll create. This is key toward enhancing user experience (UX).
The giant and sometimes chaotic roundtable discussion of an unfinished game can prepare you for the smaller iterative process of initial game design with a professional team in the future. You will use the same skills in a formal, professional environment in the industry. The more you play games, the better prepared you will be for beta testing. The more betas you test, the more you’ll be prepared for in-house (alpha) testing. And so on up the ladder of industry jobs.
So, why not sign up for a BETA today? You never know what you might learn.