In this episode of Game Industry Career Guide Podcast, I answer a question from Dillon, who asks “I am really interested in becoming a video game tester! I really like finding bugs and sharing about it to my friends. The only problem is I’m not a great writer. Would that be a major deal breaker?”
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- The difference between creative vs. technical writing
- Why technical writing is important for game testing
- How you can improve your technical writing to get a job as a tester
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 43. 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 is from Dillon, who left a comment to ask this, “I’m really interested in becoming a video game tester. I really like finding bugs and sharing about it to my friends. The only problem is, I’m not a great writer. Would that be a major deal breaker?”
Writing for game testing
I’ve talked a lot about game testing on this podcast because it’s one of the most popular career goals for young people that read my website. But just because you are interested in game testing, does that mean that you can do game testing? What if you’re missing one or more of the essential skills that are necessary to do the job?
To answer Dillon’s question, yes. You do need to have some skill at writing in order to be a successful game tester. But there are many different kinds of writing, and you don’t need to be good at all of them to get a job testing. So, let’s talk about a couple of the different kinds of writing in which ones are required to be a game tester.
Creative Writing vs. Technical Writing
First of all, let’s talk about creative writing. Creative writing is a little bit hard to define, but, generally, when we’re talking about creative writing, we’re talking about stories that have characters and settings. Oftentimes, we think of fiction and other literature. Usually, it’s all about using your imagination to express yourself through writing. Creative writing is a skill that you definitely need to use in a job as a game designer. Some large game teams even have a full time game writer job that spends a lot of time doing creative writing for the game team. But would you need to be good at creative writing in order to be a game tester? The answer to that is no. Creative writing is not a form of writing that is required for game testing.
Now, let’s talk about technical writing. Technical writing could be described as any writing that you do to share information about technical topic or to give specific and detailed instructions that somebody else would need to follow in order to accomplish steps towards a particular goal. There are many jobs in the gaming industry that may need to do technical writing. Programmers and producers definitely need to do technical writing, and game designers often do technical writing as well. But do game testers? The answer is yes. In fact, as a game tester, you’ll be spending quite a lot of your time doing technical writing, because one of your primary tasks as a tester is to write bug reports.
Dissecting the bug report
So what exactly is a bug report? A bug report is a short document that describes a bug that you found while testing a game. And it needs to give a clear and concise description of the bug and give detailed steps on how to reproduce the bug. In other words, it explains the bug to the development team and in enough detail that they can make the problem on their own development system so that they can fix the bug. As a game tester, you’ll need to write one bug report for each bug that you find. So if you find 6 or 10 or 12 bugs in a day of work, then you’ll also need to write 6 or 10 or 12 bug reports.
Now, bug reports aren’t like a book report. They’re really short, usually less than a page. Sometimes, they’re just a short paragraph, and a list of steps that somebody can take to reproduce the bug. But just because it’s short doesn’t mean that it’s easy to write. It can take quite a lot of practice before you become good enough at technical writing to make sure that your bug reports are clear and effective.
Practice makes perfect
Now, Dillon says that he’s not good at writing. Does that mean that he can’t be a good game tester? Well, I don’t think that’s what it means. Because I’ve found that most anybody can get better at writing with practice. If you want to improve your writing ability, just try writing more often. You could start a blog or a Tumblr or even just a personal journal that you won’t share with anybody. You just do it for yourself. Because the more you write, the better you’ll get at writing.
I’ve even noticed that my own writing has improved considerably just in the few years since I started the Game Industry Career Guide website. It’s amazing how fast you can improve with practice. And here’s another tip. For many people, you can improve your writing quite a lot with one simple change. Just slow down and double check your work before you turn it in. For example, when Dillon sent me his question, it actually had a typo in it. He can probably catch mistakes like that in the future if he just takes a few extra second to re-read what he wrote and check it for errors before submitting it.
All right, there you have it. You do have to be a good technical writer in order to be a great game tester. But if you aren’t a good writer yet, that’s okay. Practice makes perfect. Anybody can get better at technical writing with practice. And if that means you can get a job as a video game tester, I think you’ll agree that it’s well worth the effort.
Thanks to Dillon for that question, and thank you for hanging out with me today and putting some thought into your future career. If you enjoyed the podcast, then please help me out by spreading the word, writing your review on iTunes, or sharing it with friends. 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’ll see you again next week right here on The Game Industry Career Guide Podcast.