The Scottish firm behind one of the most successful video games series has come up with a teenager’s dream job by advertising for gamers to test its upcoming blockbuster release.
To some, the work will be repetitive and the pay modest – around £14,000 a year. But then again, it is one of the few jobs which allow employees to freefall from a burning helicopter or wield a machine-gun while driving a sports car at death-defying speeds.
The company seeking testers is Rockstar North, which wants to ensure its Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) meets the high standards of its predecessors, which have sold around 125 million copies worldwide.
After four years of development at its Edinburgh studios, the eagerly anticipated title is due to be released later this year, and the award-winning team behind the franchise is in the final stages of honing its vast, virtual universe.
To the envy of millions of gamers worldwide, the successful candidates will be based at Rockstar North’s offices, where they will be paid to play the game repeatedly before it hits shop shelves.
However, games experts warned applicants against expecting a glamorous job, as they will be tasked with playing the same sections over and over again in an attempt to identify and iron out as many flaws and mistakes in the programming code as possible.
Tristan Donovan, a computer games expert and author of Replay: The History of Video Games, said: “The new GTA game is the major title of 2012, and for it to be anything other than a raging critical and commercial success would be a shock.
“It’s replicating a major world city, so the playing area is enormous, with bridges, skyscrapers, and alleyways, absolutely everything. It’s a lot of work to create these worlds, let alone test them.”
He added: “Playtesting is a vital part of a game’s development process, the testing of what works and what doesn’t, because unlike a film, people can play around with a game in different ways, especially in a title like GTAV, which allows people to do just about anything.
“The image of the job is glamorous, where you get to sit around and play games all day. But you’re playing the same section of a game over and over again for months on end, checking for bugs. Actually, it’s quite a menial task. ”
Notorious for its secrecy, Rockstar North has promised GTAV will herald “a bold new direction in open world freedom”, but has given little away about its upcoming product other than a brief trailer released last November.
In it, glimpses were given of the fictional city of Los Santos in San Andreas – based on Los Angeles, California – and the surrounding countryside. The advert for the jobs, posted on Rockstar North’s website, states: “Rockstar North is looking for enthusiastic and self-motivated individuals to join our quality assurance team in Edinburgh.
“You will be expected to play our games looking for problems and accurately report errors through our databases to ensure superior game quality before release.”
No one from Rockstar was available for comment, but the industry starting salary for testers is around £14,000. The company does not specify any minimum qualifications for the coveted full-time roles, other than stipulating that candidates must be aged 18 or over, with excellent written and verbal communication skills.