Microsoft is offering the equivalent of a dream job for adolescents by recruiting players to test games for its upcoming Xbox. The company has set up a Web site for anyone wishing to sign up for its Playtest research program.
Those chosen for the program will play demo versions of games for the Xbox and PCs in a lab at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Wash. Testers must be 13 or older and live in the Seattle area. Testers won't be paid, but the site promises they'll get "free stuff."
Microsoft plans to release the Xbox late this year in an attempt to expand its computing dominance to home entertainment. The software giant is expected to show a prototype of the console at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Schelley Olhava, gaming analyst for market researcher IDC, said it makes sense for Microsoft to begin gathering opinions on the Xbox as soon as possible, especially because the device represents a new market for the company.
"Microsoft has been very careful to do its homework for the Xbox," she said. "It doesn't surprise me the development team wants to start testing these as soon as they can."
A Microsoft representative said that company executives will not comment on the testing program.