27 Apr

I think we were all caught a little off guard when Sony announced The Tester, their shot at a reality show that grants the winner a job as a game tester for Sony Entertainment. As most of you probably know, a career as a QA tester for any company is not as fun as it seems. Sure you get to play videogames all day, but the days tend to be long and the games you play are usually broken. Nonetheless, Sony received thousands of audition tapes and after choosing 11 contestants, put together eight episodes with one challenge a piece to see who is bad enough to rescue the president become the next Sony game tester.

This is exactly what you do as a game tester.

If you have seen any of the reality shows that often appear on vh1 or MTV starring the cast of The Real World, Bret Michaels or any of those other colorful characters then you will immediately recognize the formula used for The Tester. In every episode the contestants will participate in a challenge that is based around a skill that is necessary to be a game tester, or just a living, breathing person. However, the skills are often tested in ways that are completely out of context. For example, one of the skills is “taking direction” and instead of the potential testers receiving a series of directions and completing them from memory or something similar to that, they are tasked with knocking down targets on a field. Most of them are blindfolded and put into hamster balls while the remaining cast tells them which direction to go by yelling at them through megaphones. The only part of the show that does not conform to most reality shows seen on television is the run time. Thankfully, each episode of The Tester is only about 20 minutes long.

The host of the show

Sony must have had a field day when it came to choosing the contestants for this show. Just about all of the politically correct bases are covered, and almost every contestant is the epitome of a certain geek stereotype. You have the overweight, funny one, the emo/goth hybrid with a good amount of piercings, the overly dressed know-it-all, and yes, even the guy with the neck beard. The contestants who did not fit into any widely known stereotype were generally axed within the first couple episodes because they just faded into the background. Also, instead of using their real names they use what are presumably their Playstation Network names. Nicknames are a common practice for reality shows like this, but at least real names would have made them seem more like real people and less like cartoon characters.

Additionally the other cast members are Meredith Molinari, who stars as the attractive host who supposedly plays video games, and two judges who appear in every episode. The first is Brent Gocke, the 1st party release manager for Sony, so that makes sense. The second is Hal Sparks who has “Actor/Comedian/Gamer” under his description on the official Tester site. He is obviously just there to pull in more viewers since his role on the show is to judge which contestant is the best for a job in a company he is not a part of. The last panelist slot is reserved for guest panelists who are always other people from Sony, the most notable person being David Jaffe, the director and lead designer of God of War.

Jaffe, telling it like it is.

Overall the cast does not bother me too much. However, some of the things they do defy logic and generally do not make too much sense. There are two big things that drove me nuts. The first is when a few of the contestants decided to form an alliance. This would be all well and good except for the fact that the contestants have absolutely no power in deciding who goes home. The judges decide who leaves and usually disregard any input from the prospective testers. Speaking of the panelists, some of their decisions threw me for a loop. The most prominent one being carrying one of the contestants through almost the entire series even though that person was consistently performing poorly during the challenges. All the while other contestants who messed up once got the boot. I know it is a reality show and I should not think too much into it, but those kinds of things still drive me crazy.

This challenge is probably the most relevant to the job since it actually tested their knowledge on games.

When I first started watching The Tester I was planning on giving it a “worth trying” since it comes at the low, low price of free. After reflecting on the series and writing about it there is no way I can recommend it. While some of the cast members that were chosen make sense for the context of the show, others were shamelessly brought in to pull in more viewers and some of the decisions they made were pretty ridiculous. The challenges are also run of the mill and usually uninspired. The only redeeming factors are the runtime of around 20 minutes and the fact that the person that won seems to know what he/she is getting him/herself into and actually wants to work towards something larger within Sony instead of just being a tester forever.  I am not going to say who the winner is, but if you have not found out yet and really want to know, just look it up on the Internet and save your  hard drive space.

11 thoughts on “Series Review: The Tester”

    1. When it was announced I was mildly interested because the vh1 shows are entertaining and because it was free. That reality show formula is definitely getting old and tired.

  1. I watched all of them in the Theater so I streamed them to save HDD space. I wish there was more gaming in the show. And yeah, I was pissed too that the under-performing person was in there till the second to last episode knocking out some really awesome people. The last episode was probably the best of them cause they actually play games as a challenge.

  2. I haven’t seen any of these episodes, but it’d be pretty cool if the ‘final’ consisted of a string of 1 vs. 1 matches in all relevant genres. Fighters, shooters, racers… speedrunning a PS3 game, etc… that’d be awesome.

    1. The final consists of the three contestants being blindfolded and tied up to a chair (they have to untie every knot blindfolded, not just slip out of them and remove the blindfold). Then they move onto putting 8 things Sony related (games, controllers, consoles) in chronological order (completing this got the people a Dual Shock 3). After that they moved onto putting together a block puzzle of a scene from Uncharted 2, which had to be vertical because it contained three combinations to unlock three locks (the brief case held UC2). After that, they had to go downstairs via a slow elevator into a car that would take them to the final area. At the final area, the three competitors had to beat the Train Level in UC2. The person who won was close to losing even though that person arrived there before the other two competitors.

  3. i tried to watch this show, but it had almost nothing to do with video games. Just ran people through obstacle courses and asked them stupid questions. The three episodes I saw, they never even touched a video game.

    1. Unless it was a quick shot of a few of them playing a game just to take up time I don’t think any challenges except for the last one had them playing any video games.

  4. I must admit that I got addicted, and must refrain from any reality programs in the future because of this new-found addictive property these shows have on me.

    The challenges were an uncomfortable lesser of two evils situation. Real circumstances that challenged necessary game testing values and abilities would not be fun to watch, so they had to settle on vague, lazy metaphors to pull in the easy-to-entertain, easy-to-bore crowd. The contestants were selected not based on gaming ability but on appearance, ethnicity, and ability to fake their way through the required emotions for the interview segments.

    That being said…it was excellent drone-out material to watch when you want to shut down…or get high. My favorite peeps were Star and Balmy. ^_^

  5. Now why don’t they have a proper gaming show with people like Billy Mitchell, Fatality, and Isai? I want to see demonstrations of skill–not average people playing video games.

  6. there was a much better show like this one on spike. i think it was called ultimate gamer.

  7. I didn’t mind this show but I had the exact same thought as you did when the alliance was formed. It couldn’t really be called an alliance it was more of a friendship. The LARPing challenge was BAD though. My 2 favorite people from the show made it to the finale and the person I wanted to win, did win.

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