What It's Really Like In The Video Game Industry
It's not "I play video games for a living" anymore.
So you want to get into the video game realm, eh? Think you can test from the comfort of your home or grandma's couch? Nope. 98% of testers are at the company's location, those other 2% are those who have been with the company for many, many years and pretty much can't get fired. Keep in mind this is from a tester's standpoint. In no way will there be bashing on any companies for any reason, just a simple this-is-what-it's-like.
Since the games have been released I'm allowed to state which games I've worked on and by that you'll know where I've worked. The first game is Call of Duty: Online. This was a China exclusive CoD game for awhile but then they got Chris Evens to star in their debut trailer. It then was up online and could be played in the US. It's a PC only, F2P (Free to Play) game. But, with everything being "free" these days there are those exceptions. CoD: Online has a market place to purchase additional content. So what did I do? Tested this. Easy right? Wrong. Anything that was in English was a bug. Since this was China only, Mandarin was the main language. Did I learn the language? Haha no way. I was only on this project for 4 months. Fun game but not a fan of anything CoD related. (I'm a Halo fan lol) With testing CoD: Online, which at the time was CoD: Asia, hours definitely took its toll. Intense deadlines meant extra hours. I was already there from 8am-5:30pm M-Sat. That's not too bad you may be thinking and you're not entirely wrong. Only after 1 month of being there on the project things picked up. Welcome to the norm of the industry and your new life: 14+hrs for the next 3 months straight. Sure, we did rotating days off... but that's only 1 day off every few weeks per person.
Once that hailstorm of a project came to an end I was transferred to Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. This is a console and PC game with Kevin Spacey. Finally, a console based FPS, but still a CoD game. However, this one wasn't too bad due to the new mechanics. Anyway, this project started out just like the other one, 8:30am - 5:30pm M-Sat. or Sunday. Overtime went like this: "Oh by the way..." or "Heads up..." You knew this was bad. Because at any moment of the day they could tell you that everyone was staying. An extra hour? Ha! Yeah, we all wished. We ran off LA's rules, so if they said stay, we HAD to stay late. It became near impossible to plan a life. Unless you were married or had an understanding girlfriend/boyfriend, good luck trying to get one of those while working. You pretty much just went home to sleep and change into new clothes then back to work/life. It got pretty bad near the end of 2014 and into 2015 where working 12+hrs a day was the norm while getting let go early for the day seemed like you were getting cheated and then got bored later.
All-in-all, it's a great place to work and start when out of college and awesome experience. Super fun place to be at and the people are like-minded. Laid back where there isn't a dress code, just show up on time and do your job. You can eat at your desk and get up to move around. However, for $9/hr with $13.50 for OT... not worth it. Mentally and physically draining. You're not just playing the game, you're testing specifics over and over and over and over again... every day to the point where you just tested something that previous day or same day with a new build and it's literally pointless.
Game testing isn't what it seems. Environment is awesome along with experience but pay and sanity is what you lose. If you want to move up well, better plan on staying there for at least a year before you get considered. Oh, and it's all about bug count too, not how much you know or how well you manage others. Get liked by everyone, help others and bug a lot.