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Nicki Brouwer

Nicki Brouwer works in Quality Assurance as a Games Tester at PikPok.

Nicki BrouwerWhat do you do on an average work day?
I play video games all day. As a QA (Quality Assurance) games tester, I make sure that the games our company makes aren't broken. PikPok makes mobile games (games for phones and tablets), so I play them over and over and make sure everything is working correctly. I give opinions on whether the game is too easy or too hard, and when things go wrong, I try to help figure out why. Most of the games we make are free to play, so we also need to make sure that our monetization (or money making procedures) are working correctly so we can pay for the work all of the other developers put into our games. We check to make sure that any purchases our players make happen properly, and that advertisements appear when they are supposed to. Some testers only work on one game at a time (often when they are bigger games) but here I have helped to test more then 10 different games. 

What did you study at school? And after high school?
I grew up in Canada and when I finished high school I decided to become a teacher. I studied at a couple of Canadian universities and completed my Bachelor of Arts and and a Bachelor of Education. 

Was your study directly related to what you do now?
Yes and no. I worked as a teacher for about five years. I loved teaching but my life changed and I decided to change my career. I began working in QA not long ago, and I am intending to use my management, organisation, and personal skills as a teacher to become a Project Manager once I learn a bit more about how games are created. Working in QA doesn't require a lot of specific experience so it can be a good starting role in video games. Having some experience building games can be really helpful, but isn't necessary. 

What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now?
Three things:

1. Remember that you have options. Even after you've graduated, you can change your mind about your career path and re-purpose the skills you have learned earlier to help you in your new role. 

2. As trite as it sounds, remember that mistakes and getting things wrong are a learning experience ,especially in STEM careers. Mistakes will happen, but as long as you do what you can to fix them and can prove you've learned from them, you're doing ok. We all make mistakes.

3. Get to know the people in your field if you can. Go to events, make yourself a business card, do your best to meet people, show them what you can do if you have the chance. This helps them to get to know you, helps you to understand the industry better, and helps you figure out where you may want to work (and a good work place makes a world of difference).

What are some of your career highlights so far?
Having my name in the credits of some of the games I've tested was really cool. I also had the chance to work with one of our clients on his game and he gave me a really lovely review that said he was really impressed with our work to help him get his game shipped. It was great to work with him, and as I'm still quite new, made me feel pretty awesome.

Why do you believe engaging in STEM – whether it’s working in the field, studying it or just educating one’s self around the issues – is important to New Zealand?
All of the facets of STEM help us progress further as a global community and find better ways to live.

Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?
The more minds we have working to further study and innovate, the better we are as a human race. When it comes down to it, we deserve to be there if we want to be and wherever interests us - gender doesn't have anything to do with how creative and intelligent we can be!

Nicki Brouwer works in Quality Assurance as a Games Tester at PikPok.

This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM. 
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