Note: This is all my opinion, I swear. Don’t hurt me.
I’m not sure what compelled me to subject myself to such a thing as Sony’s new reality show, The Tester, but I did it regardless. I watched every last second of that horrible, awkward train wreck of “beerios”, fake crying, canned laughter, and finally LARPing, which wasn’t actually LARPing instead was a shitty high-school drama class sketch.
So yeah, The Tester is bad. There’s no getting around that. There seems to be a slew of differing opinions on the show from the gaming community. Some believe that this is a good idea in concept but not in execution. Others think that this is a complete utter waste of time and that it needs to die. I might agree with the latter.
See, I don’t think any one in the gaming community needed a show like this, ever. We’re a skeptical bunch, and we don’t like be lied or pandered to and The Tester did both of these things. At least have the decency to treat whoever is watching your show with some respect.
But what’s worse is that the people on the show are probably the most manipulated out of any of us. Most of these contestants on the show have been led to believe a lie. They have been deceived into thinking that game testing, in any way shape or form, is a job that a person actually aspires to. It seems like only a few people on the show get the idea that being a tester is an entry level job. That’s really sad because a lot of these guys and gals come off as alright people who don’t know any better. It’s a shame that any person could be bamboozled into doing embarrassing, idiotic challenges for a job that’s not as glamorous as they all imagined.
The most interesting thing about the show is how most of these challenges have nothing to do with the actual job. Each new test usually has some kind of explanation shoe-horned in. You’re going to LARP in the park today because testers need to be creative and able to think on their toes! Or, trying to direct people in plastic bubbles into pylons with a megaphone will put someone’s communication skills to the test, which is needed to be involved in QA.
All of these challenges may tie into the job more than I think; I could just be acting too harsh on the show. I mean, In some way, The Tester possibly could have the power to help people. Hell, it kind of already is. Let’s take the recent winner for example: Will Powers, known as Cyrus on the show, has a pretty solid understanding of what he’s getting into and why he’s there. The guy in many interviews has talked about how hard it is to get a job in the industry on his coast and moving to the west would be to costly for him. He used the show’s $5000 signing bonus to get him over to San Diego for the job. After he’s planning on moving up in the chain of command to work in some form of localization; using his degree in Japanese to its fullest extent. In that case The Tester is an alright solution. For a guy who was essentially backed into a corner, the show was way out.
My issue isn’t with that, though. Instead, my problem lies with how everyone involved with this show is being treated and its tone. Like I mentioned already, everything is very condescending. From what I’ve read about the show, apparently, the editing was deliberate in doing that, much like a lot of reality shows. Maybe my problem lies with most reality shows instead of just this one and my love for gaming fuels me more than it would normally. That doesn’t change the fact that everything could have definitely been done better. People could have been treated better. On all fronts, audience and participants.
Thinking back on it, the show isn’t that bad. Some mistakes were made here and there but I retract my statement, The Tester isn’t downright horrible. It’s not great, but it’s not the worst thing ever. Whether we really need a show like this can come to a conclusion in the future; I think we can do without it but who knows what can happen. If this show fleshes out some ideas a little more, edit things a little more suitably, and find challenges that can actually tie into the job in an interesting way, then I don’t see why this show shouldn’t exist. The doors The Tester opens are fantastic and potentially life changing as long as the person who wins knows what they’re doing.
Give it a chance, check it out for yourself, maybe you’ll be nicer to the show than I. All I can say is good luck to Will Powers with your new position and prove me wrong that the show does have some value and climb that ladder to your dream.