Train2Game Interview: Veteren QA Tester and Cheat Mode author Dan Jacobs – Part 3

Cheat Mode by Dan Jacobs is a recently released book about getting into and surviving the games industry. Written by an industry veteran, this book contains interviews with industry professionals who make games every day. From programmers to designers, journalists to community Managers, it offers advice from staff working at companies including BioWare, Codemasters, Rockstar and more.

The Train2Game Blog recently caught up with Cheat Mode author and experienced QA Tester Dan Jacobs to discuss his book, getting into the industry, what makes a good QA Tester and more.

In the final instalment of our huge three part interview, Jacobs discusses mistakes when QA testing, advice on becoming a tester, and the importance of networking.  The previous instalment of our interview is here.

Cheat Mode The definitive guide to getting into and surviving the games industry is out now and costs £10.99.

 What are the biggest mistakes that can be made in QA Testing?

Biggest mistake number one is saying “I play games for a living.” No, you’re here for a job, you either work or you leave.  I assure you that very quickly in every new batch of testers, there are some who will go because they believed it was a joke, a mess around, a laugh. They weren’t prepared to do 12 hour days or endlessly test the same thing day out. It’s a job, if you want to keep that job, you have to do that.

Going back to Cheat Mode, your book, what’s the greatest piece of advice you can give to someone looking to break into the industry?

There is a prevailing factor in the book, almost everyone I spoke to, at some point, got a bit of luck. Luck is not something you can aim for, but it’s certainly something you can increase the chances of. If you’re applying to the companies near your house, well, good luck with that. But personally, I’ve moved for almost every job I’ve had, just to be able to take on that job and do it, expand my CV, get more experience then move on.

Once you have that break, a lot of people take you a lot more seriously because you’ve already worked. But getting that first break is very hard, and ultimately you have to be prepared to do whatever it takes. But you have an applicant in this industry need to be prepared to meet those challenges.

Would you recommend going to industry events such as Rezzed, Develop Conference and Eurogamer to help get your face out there?

Networking certainly features highly in Cheat Mode. In fact, I’m beginning to see my Facebook page for the book as a good source of networking.  There are a lot of games industry veterans who’ve liked that page because they know me or they’ve been interviewed by me for the book. But networking is an absolutely great place to start. You may not get a job from networking in any way shape, or form, but you will meet those people again in the industry.

Basically, you’ve got to work really hard to get into this industry.

Yeah, definitely. In a way, it’s a bit of a thankless industry, but the reward of your name in the credits is phenomenal.

So, you’re book, Cheat Mode, where can people buy it from?

Well, I’m sure everyone has seen my Train2Game forum post and the Facebook page. You can pick the book up from completelynovel.com. It’s an interesting book, I was chatting to one of the interviewees, Pete, an artist I worked with in Scotland, and he told me “I would’ve killed for this book when I was younger” and so would I! And the shocking thing is there’s no one book on this subject at all, that I could find anyway.

There are books on how to design games, how to animate games, how to do specific disciplines, but there’s nothing says ‘Here’s a guy, he codes, let’s talk to him about his day-to-day life. Here’s a game designer, let’s talk about what he actually does, as opposed to the image of sitting in a chair inventing storylines which is such fiction.

So, what I’m hoping for is for Cheat Mode to do a couple of things; it’ll give people a more realistic idea of what they’re getting themselves in for,  hopefully give them some tips on creating a good CV, and getting out ahead of the crowd. And hopefully there’s some resources in there that they may not have heard of, and perhaps they can use the FAQ when they start at a company.

Thanks for your time

As usual, leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum. Part 1 and 2 of our interview are here.  

Cheat Mode The definitive guide to getting into and surviving the games industry is out now and costs £10.99.