I’ve been a gamer almost all my life, but I’ve never been an official beta tester until now. I tried to get on the alpha or beta test list for Civ World, but my Facebook friends didn’t sign up in droves to the Van City Allstars. I’ve known people who were beta testers, even authors of gaming rule books or games. I know people who have been thanked in gaming books, I’ve even been published, spelling mistakes and all, but I never even got the free copy I was promised after some house rules I made up for Necromunda got recommended in a Citadel Journal article.
Vancouver has a lot of game studios. I’ve applied to more than a few, but my first official beta testing gig came via Twitter. One of the people I follow, (hi Boris!) posted a link and I had to access it via my iPhone and now I’m beta testing a game called Bounty Island. This isn’t by one of the game companies I’ve applied to, nor one I’m currently considering an application to.
I’d rather be testing Civ World as it is more my style. Bounty Island is one of those pay for premium goods and bonuses games. It is also locationally aware. The only game I’ve played like this is City of Ash which is by another Vancouver gaming studio. Zynga and Farmville made these type of games famous and have made sufficiently large money that a sea of me too games are being created, but convincing Facebook friends to play these games is likely harder. I couldn’t even get City of Ash to successfully invite anyone! I tried many many times.
The concept behind Bounty Island is pretty simple every location in Google Earth or some subset is an island which you can explore for treasure and food. The more you explore the more tired you get. You can gain energy by eating food. There is a store where you can buy food and equipment. You can also use real cash to buy digital items. It is these digital items which give you in-game bonuses and/or status that generate the revenue in these games. The most famous in North America are Farmville and Mafia Wars perhaps, which are made by the now overvalued Zynga.
These games and digital goods have long been popular in Asia, South Korea and Cyworld were early leaders in this. I think what made paying real money for digital items hit big time was Diablo II. It was really popular in Korea and most places in the world. People who were lucky or just spent all day killing monsters would find very rare items. They could trade these to other players. I don’t know who did it first but people started using PayPal and eBay to trade these virtual in game goods for real world money. Now it is a major source of income for a lot of companies and presumably still some individuals who sell the stuff they find while gaming to other gamers…
I actually have a job interview for an Excel contract job tomorrow, in fact I seem to be getting an up tick in activity and consideration and more jobs which I may be a fit. We’ll see if something comes of it. You can’t become an expert overnight, but you can try. ;-)