By Kira James
For many, becoming a software or video game beta tester is an extremely appealing idea. Many enjoy the challenge of finding flaws and exploiting weaknesses of a program. Some find it exciting to be able to see programs and video games before it is released to the general public. Still others have genuine interest in the industry and would like to play a role in it, however humble, or get their foot in the door in anticipation of an eventual career.
Getting accepted into a beta program is actually more challenging than it may seem. There are few standard avenues for someone who wishes to beta test a program or video game. In general, a company will do their own beta call once they have reached the appropriate stage in their development, using whatever resources they prefer. In video games, there is a tendency to spread this call among their followers and fans. This allows the company to pull from a population of testers that are already somewhat knowledgeable about their product.
This means that the best way to become a beta tester is to join the communities of the products you are most interested in. It is also important to keep generally up to date on industry news and products in current development, to pick up other opportunities as they arise. If there is no accessible beta information in the community, you may contact the company directly via email or phone. You can then politely ask when they will be starting their beta testing, if there will be an open call, and if so, how to get on the list. Naturally, you will want to be respectful and professional in any correspondence with the company, and mention any prior experience you may have had with similar products or the industry itself.
There are agencies that claim to connect potential testers with companies in need. Unfortunately, many of these websites are not legitimate, or only do the barest minimum of data aggregation while charging the potential tester a fee. It is often easier and faster to contact a company directly than to attempt to use one of these companies, and companies are generally very pleased to hear about any interest in their product.
It is important to note that testing software and video games is a job and a responsibility, even if it is done on a volunteer basis. If you are in the software or video game industry, it can even be beneficial to have on your resume. Performing well will result in a product that everyone involved can be proud in, and often lead to other opportunities down the line. Software companies and video game companies alike are well aware that good beta testers can make or break their product. A thorough, professional, and knowledgeable beta tester can be an extremely valuable asset to the development process.