Back in 2001 when I was working for an engineering firm in Maryland, I was leaving for the day to go home. I walked up to the elevator and hit the button to travel down to my car. When the doors opened, there stood before me Mr . Sid Meier – the legendary game designer / developer of such titles as Sid Meier’s Civilization and Pirates!. To be honest, I was dumb-founded and simply stepped to one side of the elevator letting the door close behind me.
What do you do in situations like these, I asked myself?
Well, I tried to think. What should I say? Should I say anything? The man is probably bothered enough about gaming and its quitting time to boot, I thought.
The floors (and seconds) kept ticking away and the ground floor was quickly approaching.
Then in a moment of clarity, I introduced myself and told him that I was a fan. He thanked me, and then I asked out of nowhere (not expecting an answer), “If I want to get into gaming, what can I do?”
With a slight smile, he kept looking straight at the elevator doors and said, “Programming. You should learn how to program and start by making your own games.”
Before I could thank him again, the elevator came to stop, the doors opened and he left. Still standing there frozen from what had just happened, I was proud of myself for actually saying something. But then as the doors began to close, I quickly moved out of the elevator and headed to my car.
Ironically, from that day up until recently I didn’t learn how to program – check out my blog on Treehouse & Codecademy here . But what I did do was I continued to play numerous videogames (PC, Mac, Mobile and Console), as well as, I started to put my name out there in order to become a BETA TESTER.
What is “Beta Testing”? It’s when a game development company releases their game in near-final form so that they can do usability testing outside of their company – making sure that all of their hard work and previous, internal testing has (hopefully) paid off. It also provides them with the opportunity to test their servers with a limited set of “Beta Testers” prior to launching their game to, possibly, millions of eager gamers worldwide.
Some of the more recent titles that I’ve been fortunate to beta test are as follows (organized alphabetically):
> Dust 514
> Family Guy Online
> Ghost Recon Online
> Just Cause 2: Multiplayer
> Metal Gear Online
> ModNation Racers
> PlayStation Home
> Resistance 2: Fall of Man
> Star Wars : The Old Republic
> Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
All of these titles / services are unique in their own ways, and they presented varying styles of heads-up displays ( HUDs ), story, gameplay and environments that I enjoyed playing and commenting on in order to help out with the final stages of their development.
For those who are trying to get into gaming and want to do beta testing in order to get a feel for what it is like to test games, keep the following in mind: YOU WILL GET REJECTED!!
When I first tried to be a beta tester, I was ignored…A LOT. I would send out requests to be a beta tester to numerous companies (both by phone and email) and I would either get an automated response (“Don’t call us, we’ll call you”) or no response at all. And to be honest, that was ok (although it didn’t feel that way at the time). I was at least trying to get my foot in the door.
After a while of pestering (years, actually) numerous game development companies, I was finally included in a few beta tests and my (unpaid) beta testing career began.
So where do I go from here? I keep testing. Keep offering my time and comments to help to improve the vast number of games out there that captivate our minds and transport us to another world to explore.
Please let me know what titles you have tested (or would like to), and how the experience has been for you in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading.