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When I Grow Up: Glorious Gaming

Ever wish you could play video games all day long? This guy actually does. Meet Stephen Ward, an official Nintendo Product Tester.
 

Learning Benefits

Why my job is awesome: I literally get to play video games for a living. I can't wait to get to work every day and see the next masterpiece our developers are working on.  

An average day on the job: I play a game — sometimes for the Wii, sometimes for the DS — and look for glitches as I go. When I find one, I report it to the game's developers, and they fix it. After a few months of this testing-and-fixing process, a game is ready to ship out for our consumers to enjoy. Although many people wouldn't want to spend eight hours a day or more playing the same game over and over again, I can't get enough!

What I love about my job: I love that I get to be a part of the process that creates such cool video games. It's a great feeling knowing that I helped bring a game from its conception through the testing process and into the hands of kids and adults everywhere.

How I first became interested: Even as a kid, I wanted to work at Nintendo when I grew up. I got my Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas in 1987 and was instantly hooked. After graduating from college, I needed a job and saw that Nintendo was hiring. I started off as a telephone game play counselor, helping people that were stuck in their games. As soon as I found out that Nintendo offered on-site testing, I knew that was my calling. I've been a full-time product tester for three years now, and it's the greatest job in the world!

When I was a kid, I wanted to be: At first, I wanted to be a cowboy, an astronaut, or a doctor — but that was before I was introduced to video games. At that time, the video game boom was just taking off, so there were tons of new games every month. I quickly forgot about being a cowboy and decided I wanted to be a video game hero — and in a way, I guess I am.

How I became a video game hero: Although I do have a college degree from a four-year university, you don't need one to become a tester at Nintendo. You have to be at least 18 years old, detail-oriented, highly analytical, and skilled in written and oral English communication. And you have to have a love of video games, of course. As you can imagine, a lot of people want the job, so getting hired is the tough part.

What stinks about my job: Since one of the main aspects of my job is to find problems (or "bugs") in the games I play, it's hard to enjoy a video game on my own time without trying to break it. When I'm playing video games at home with friends, I should be having fun — but instead I find myself trying to test them!

My advice to you: Don't give up on your dreams because if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen. When I was a kid, my mom told me that I'd never get anywhere playing video games, but here I am testing games for a living at Nintendo. I still joke with my mom about that one . . .

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