For a very long time, people have imagined the life of a video game tester, not as 9-to-5 job but as the fantasy of teenagers everywhere. Who wouldn’t want to sit on a comfy couch and play games all day. Reality is a little different. Video game quality assurance (QA), as testing is called, is a low-paying, occasionally rewarding, often frustrating job that has both more and less to do with the quality of today’s games than you might expect. A professional QA tester doesn’t just sit by the television and saunter through level 5 of the latest shooter; he or she spends 14 straight hours running into different walls to see if they’re all solid. Proper video-game testing is more akin to abstract puzzle-solving than it is to getting a top score in Donkey Kong. But when a big game ships broken, is QA really to blame? How could testers possibly not find some of the bugs that show up in the games we play? Why do so many servers break all the time? Just what do QA people do all day, anyway? Over the past few months I’ve had extensive conversations with several dozen current and former QA testers—many of whom spoke anonymously in order to protect their careers—in an attempt to explore the world of video game testing and try to explain what it’s really like to play games for a living. Read the complete article.