It’s the ultimate gamer’s dream- to find a way to make a living from playing video games. And the best part is- it’s actually possible!

Here are the top ways to turn your video game know-how into cold, hard cash:

1. Become a game tester. Beta testers work for game companies to help work out bugs before the game is released to the public. Companies like Nintendo hire game testers frequently, but the competition for these gigs is fierce. However, game testing can also get your foot in the door for other jobs within a game company.

2. Play for Pay. Some “casual game” companies online offer cash or prizes for frequent players. These games, often single or two-player games like card games, word puzzles and mazes, make money from advertizing and many give out part of their earnings to players. If you often play things like Solitaire or Mahjong on your coffee break, switching to Pay-for-Play sites can turn your time waster into a moneymaker.

3. Win money in online games. Some of the bigger online casual game companies offer tournaments where you can win cash and prizes, everything from gift certificates to physical items they will ship to your home. There are also real-life game tournaments sponsored by major companies that you might try entering. You have to be good to win, though. If you don’t get first place, you don’t get to take home the money.

4. Create your own games. Game development is a lucrative industry. If you can program games, you can find a career working for one of the majors. Or you can strike out on your own. Some developers make games designed to be used on established systems that are then sold to major companies. Others design games to be played on any computer system and sell the games themselves. A growing market for games is online and mobile applications. Developing simple games for Facebook or the iPhone could bring in loads of money if the game is a hit.

5. Become a Character Farmer. This is the hidden underbelly of multiplayer online games. People pursuing this method of moneymaking develop characters in online games, earning in-world currency and collecting accessories as they go, then sell the character or the items they have acquired for real-world cash. Customers are people who like the game but don’t want to spend the time building up a low-level character or searching for paltry stashes of gold until they can acquire enough to buy what they want.

6. Cash in on Second Life. Linden Labs’ Second Life is one of the few online ventures that actively encourages members to create and sell new things within the game world. Some entrepreneurs have made millions in real-world cash by developing real estate, opening shops selling clothing or accessories of their own design or holding events within the Second Life world.

7. Write about your gaming. Blogs and articles that give tips and strategies for playing popular games are booming. If you style yourself as an expert, you can develop a following and get paid to write about how you consistently beat the game or other players.