I'm currently a contractor for Microsoft. This means after my contract is up, I go on a 100-day break before I can start my next contract. You'd think I'd be used to these by now, but I'm not. I hate the 100-day break. But, I'm gonna try to make the most of it this year because this year I have 100 days of summer! So..... what should I do? :P
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I get this question a lot, and to me, it has 2 meanings. Initially I think they are asking how to get into a playtest session and test a game for us. Every studio has their own ways to "playtest" a game; some are just internal within the studio and some are done with the public. At Microsoft, I host public playtest sessions. To sign up, people go to www.microsoft.com/playtest and enter their name, number, and what kinds of games they play and how often they play them. We also have a Facebook page (!!plug!!)
When you're called, they screener asks questions about your gaming habits to see if you are a canidate for a session. If so, you come in, play the game, and tell us what you think. You receive games or software for your time and in a couple months are usually called again for another session. These are meant to get the public's opinion on games, not as a tester but as a player. If you are looking to get into the testing industry - participating in a Playtest isn't really something you can add to your resume.
The next question I usually hear is, "How can I get into Playtest as a job?" Most folks are pretty disappointed when I tell them everyone in our group is a Psychology student or graduate. When we "playtest" a game, we're not looking for the bugs or glitches or other standard testing procedures; we are looking to see how you "feel" about the game. Did you like the game, the weapons, the music? How do you feel about them? These are the questions we're asking and having a background in Psychology helps us analyze your answers.
So you still think you want to get a job in Playtest? To become a User Researcher you will need at least a Graduate degree if not a PhD in Human Computer Interactions and more. If you're in a small studio, you'll probably need some Community cred. Either way, you'll need to like people and love interacting with them and how they interact with your game. Otherwise - check out your temp agencies and see if game testing is something they do. There's still a lot of opportunities for testing games as a contractor.
Whenever I find out Xbox Live is resetting gamer scores due to an exploit, I always feel out of the loop cuz I never knew what the exploit was. It's probably best that I don't know however, cuz I'd probably try it myself ;P
I played Lego Indiana Jones last night for the first time. Wow, it was surprisingly difficult! It's a 3D world, but you can't move the camera around like other games. It's a left-stick only kind of experience. It's been so long since I've played like that I forgot how to. I kept falling off and dying. Thankfully though, as a kid's game, I could die infinate amount of times and it would eventually skip past the level for me :P
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