How can I tell if a video game jobs website is a scam?

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In this episode of Game Industry Career Guide Podcast, I answer a question from Bryan, who asks “Where can I find reviews for this business site and is this a legit website that I will not be scammed by?”

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why there are so many scammer websites for video game testing jobs
  • 5 simple techniques you can use to identify, and avoid, scammers
  • Use those techniques to see which Google search results are actually scams!

If you have a question you'd like to get answered on the podcast, leave a comment below or ask me anything here.

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Hello and welcome to the Game Industry Career Guide Podcast. This is episode number 50. I’m Jason W. Bay from gameindustrycareerguide.com and this is the podcast where I answer your questions about getting a job and growing your career making video games.

This week’s question comes from Bryan who used the Contact Me form on the website to ask this, “Where can I find reviews for this business site and is this a legit website that I will not be scammed by?”

Techniques for spotting a scam

Okay, so this is an interesting situation. Bryan found my website maybe by searching on Google or Bing or whatever, and for some reason he suspects that it might be a scam. Now, at first you might think it’s strange that he’d bother to email me to ask this question. I mean, if somebody was running a scam website, do you really think they’d admit it just because someone emailed to ask them that question?

Well, what Bryan did was actually pretty smart because there are a number of different ways that you can try to find out whether to trust any given website, and sending them an email is actually one of the techniques that you can use.

Now, most of what I have on my website is free content. There’s 130 or 140 articles, podcasts, and some free e-books. So that’s obviously not a scam because no money is actually changing hands. I do have a book that I sell, but I don’t sell it directly from my own website. You have to go to a well-known book seller like Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. So those websites certainly aren’t scams. So why would Bryan think that maybe the Game Industry Career Guide website could be a scam?

Well, I don’t know for sure because I haven’t asked him yet. But if I had to guess I’d say it’s because there are a lot of scam websites out there when it comes to getting a job as a video game tester specifically. So what’s up with that?

If it’s too good to be true…

Game testing is a job that a lot of people consider to be a dream job. They imagine getting paid big money to just play games all day. Now, if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while or reading my website, you know that that’s not actually what a tester does. Game testing is hard work and in fact it doesn’t usually pay as well as other jobs in the game industry.

But that doesn’t stop people from wanting to do it anyway. And when you have a lot of people who are passionate about achieving their goal, whether that’s losing weight or bulking up or getting a date or landing their dream job, you’ll also find plenty of scammy websites claiming to sell you that dream… for a price.

If that’s the case, what are some techniques for finding out whether any given website might be a scam?

Some scam-hunting tactics

Well, there are several tactics that you can use and they’re actually pretty easy once you know what to look for. To help illustrate and just to have a little fun, let’s see if we can find ourselves some scammy websites that might be targeting people who want to become game testers. Just before I started recording this, I went on Google and I searched for the phrase “game tester jobs.” How long did it take for me to locate a scam?

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Well, the first page of search results contain some pretty normal results, things that you’d probably expect to find. For example, at the top of the page there were a couple of paid advertisements. One of them was from Full Sail, which is a video game school. They don’t have any game tester courses at the school, but they do know that people interested in game testing might also be interested in getting a degree in some other game career like art or design. So that kind of makes sense.

Then there’s also an ad for DICE.com, which is a job board for technology jobs. Actually I couldn’t tell whether that site might be a scam just by looking at it. But usually scammers don’t bother paying for ads, they’re trying to make a quick buck and ads cost a lot of money. After the ads came a bunch of job board websites like indeed.com and glassdoor.com. Those are well-known job boards. And there was also a link to Nintendo’s job board, which obviously is legitimate. And there were some articles that were on news websites about game testers. For example, there’s an article about game testing on IGN.com. Those are just news articles on well-known websites, so those aren’t scams obviously.

You should never pay to play

However, interlaced within those other search results were not one but two suspicious websites, game-tester-jobs.com and game-testers.net. Now this is the first page of Google. But both of those kind of look fishy to me. So I wanted to dig a little deeper to find out more. When I clicked to visit the game-testers-jobs website, it actually looks pretty cool. There’s a giant video playing on the background, a really awesome looking, like 3D animated computer graphic, robot sneak thing. It looks awesome and it looks professional.

But when I started reading their website to find out what they offer, it got suspicious real quick. First of all I saw phrases like, “Get access to game tester jobs,” and, “It does cost money to join our network.” Those phrases were suspicious to me because I know that you never have to pay to get access to jobs. If the jobs are real and the companies are real, those companies, they just post their job openings to normal job websites. They don’t bother hiding them behind a paywall, there’s no reason. They want more people to access them so they put them on big sites like Plaster.com and Monster and Indeed and just the normal job websites.

Check the disclaimers

But if you didn’t know that and you’re still not sure, you could just keep digging. Let’s look a little deeper. At the bottom of the site they have a link to a page called Earnings Disclaimer. Now that page is kind of a wall of text, but it’s always a good idea to read the legal disclaimers because you might just find something fishy. In this case I found a sentence that was in all caps, by the way, that said, “THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL EARN ANY MONEY USING THE TECHNIQUES AND IDEAS IN THESE MATERIALS.” So on one of their pages they’re saying, “Get paid to play games,” while on the legal page they’re saying, “There is no guarantee that you’ll earn any money.” That’s fishy enough that I would chalk the site up to being a scam and I’d stay away from it.

What about the other website that was listed, game-testers.net? Their site says things like, “Make decent money playing new games on your sofa,” and, “Play from anywhere and get paid to play.” If you could make decent money playing games on your sofa, don’t you think everybody would already be doing that? Doesn’t that seem a little too good to be true?

Check for grammar an spelling mestakes

Check this out. They also say, “You can make your living sitting on your coach and enjoying the gaming process.” Now that one is funny because they obviously meant sitting on your couch, not sitting on your coach. Bad grammar and spelling errors can also be a sign that the site is less than legitimate.

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There was another grammar error, “This will give you access to every single game developer who accidentally needs a game tester for testing new games.” “Accidentally needs a game tester”? That doesn’t even make sense. Plus, they claim to give you access to every single game developer. That’s obviously not possible. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

So those are just a few different techniques that you can use to evaluate whether a site is legit. Look for weird spelling and grammar. Look for legal disclaimer pages that seem to contradict with the rest of what the site is saying and give some thought to whether the claims they’re making seem too good to be true.

(Try to) get in touch

I also mentioned earlier that you can try sending them an email to help find out whether they’re legit. Now why would that work? It can work because a lot of the scam websites out there, they’re kind of like little traps that somebody has set up and then they just walk away from them. They aren’t actually monitored by people. So you might get a canned, form letter response or you might not get a response at all.

But if an actual person does reply, well, that might actually backfire on them because it gives you some additional data to help you make a decision. For example, if they aren’t very straight with you or if they don’t answer your questions directly or if they try to string you along and convince you to buy their subscription or to send them your credit card number or whatever, then you’ll know get away fast. But usually they just won’t respond. Because it’s not really worth their time to reply to people individually. They know that if you don’t fall for it because you’re skeptical, no big deal. There are still plenty of others who will.

Armed and ready

All right. Now you have a little arsenal of tactics that you can use to find out whether a site is legitimate or whether it might just be a scam. Thanks to Bryan for that question and props to him for being cautious and thoughtful about staying safe online.

And as always, thank you for hanging out with me today. If you enjoyed the podcast, then please help me spread the word by sharing it with your friends on social media or by subscribing to the newsletter.

Also, just a quick announcement. When I started this podcast I promised myself that I would do 50 episodes before taking a break. Well, this is episode number 50. So I’m going to take some hard earned time off from podcasting for just a little while, but I will be back. So be sure to like or subscribe to this podcast now so that we can pick up where we left off when I return.

In the meantime, for more information and inspiration on getting a job and growing your career making video games, visit me at gameindustrycareerguide.com. I’m Jason W. Bay. I will see you again next time right here on the Game Industry Career Guide Podcast.

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