The Tester Season 3 Finale Recap: Three’s Company


On Monday night, the Kentucky Wildcats won the NCAA basketball tournament, nailing a conclusion that 99 percent of America—at least the part that doesn’t live in Lawrence, Kansas—had already penciled in as foregone. On Tuesday night, The Tester Season Three nailed a conclusion that 99 percent of the show’s viewers—including the part that does live in Lawrence, Kansas—had pegged as foregone around episode 5. We’ll try to dodge too many imminent spoilers as we plow through some final observations:

That Starhawk commercial was totally unnecessary: And convoluted. And a poor representation of what should be a fascinating game. We learned more about Starhawk in the five minutes we watched the three finalists actually play it than we did in the slickly produced spot. Which one cost more to produce?

Trick Questions Rule. And They’re Not Just for SATs: Way back in sixth grade, I had an elementary school teacher who played an especially diabolical prank on her class in the interest of teaching a lesson about reading carefully and following directions. She handed out a sheet of paper that had 30 lines of instructions, the first of which said, “Read everything before doing anything.” Those who followed that advice correctly scanned down to the very last line, which said, “Ignore lines 2-29, and sign your paper. You’re done.” The rest of the class—about 20 of the 25 kids—blithely blundered through the entire list, responding to instructions to do things like sing and shout your name aloud, turn your desk backwards and break all your pencils in two.

Part three of the final challenge makes it obvious that AkilleezMight, Krysti Pryde and RealityPalez never had Mrs. Raphael.

Are There Traffic Cops on the Tester Payroll? It’s one of those nagging instances where disbelief refuses to suspend itself, kinda the same way Newt Gingrich refuses to face the fact that it’s been over for months now: How does the show manage to magically transport each contestant from the final field challenge back to the room where the final videogame throwdown occurs in exactly the same amount of time? Because if even one of those cars gets held up by a red light or heavy LA traffic, the competition’s unfair.

Three’s Apparently Still Company: The symmetry of this season finale seems more than a little too tidy. Akilleez builds a lead—and blows it. Realty builds a lead—and blows it. Krysti builds a lead—and…you can see where this is heading. Wouldn’t it be interesting—and by default more realistic—if once in a while the finale were, like the Super Bowl used to be, a blowout? Say, if one of these years, a contestant who got stuck on an early part of the challenge walked into the final room to find the game over and the trophy already presented? Tell us that’s not an entertaining post-production interview.

Production Associate is to Quality Assurance as Administrative Assistant is to Secretary: It’ll be at least a year before we learn whether this season’s prize—a year-long gig as a production associate—is actually more of a meaningful gig than simple quality assurance. The show’s producers went out of their way to use the new quality-speak job title as if it were somehow several steps removed from the name of the show that’s actually offering it. Of course, Sony also once told us the PlayStation Network was completely secure and that the PlayStation 3 would totally dominate the current console generation, so forgive us just the teeniest bit of skepticism. Hope for Wilson Santiago’s sake it proves true.

Three seasons, no gender equity: In three straight seasons, a woman has made the Tester final three. And in three straight seasons, a player with a Y chromosome has walked off with the prize stash and the job. Yes, there are more male gamers and male game studio employees, but we’ve now reached the point where if a woman wins season four–assuming there is a season four–it’s going to feel like a scripted correction.

In other words, it’ll fit right in.

Image credit: Tester-Season 3-Episode 9 – Season Finale

About the Author

Aaron R. Conklin has been writing about games and games culture for more than 15 years. A former contributor to Computer Games Magazine and Massive Magazine, his writing has appeared on and in newspapers and alt-weeklies across the country. Conklin's an unapologetic Minnesota sports fan living in Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Midwest's most underrated gaming vibe.