Q:I have a 15-year-old nephew who plays video games all the time. He’s very good at it. Are there any job opportunities that allow teenagers to earn money for playing video games? Could he be a tester or something like that?
— C. Mavrovitis, New York
Testing jobs are an excellent way to get your foot in the door. To qualify as a video game tester, you have to have excellent communication and organizational skills and be disciplined enough to thoroughly test the games, rather than simply play them.
I recommend contacting game publishing companies and independent testing labs to find out if they are hiring full-time and part-time testers. The work usually pays around $9 to $12 an hour. In many cases, becoming a full-time game tester job requires working on-site. In the first few years, young professionals can expect an average salary of about $30,000.
I’ve also noticed the growing popularity of professional video game competitions. Organizations such as the Cyberathlete Professional League, as well as some local cyber-café tournaments are attracting young players who are making good money from winning tournaments and from sponsorships.
Another organization worth looking into is the Urban Video Game Academy (www.uvga.org). Their mission is to educate young students about careers in video game design and development.