From playing on the Wii as a child, to building robots in high school, Goodnight Scholar and Computer Science major Nyela Allen ’24 always knew she was interested in technology. But, it wasn’t until Nyela came to NC State that she found her real professional calling, video game design! After several programming classes, membership in the Video Game Development Club, and several diverse internships, Nyela can’t wait to take the game design world by storm even before graduating from NC State!
Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us about yourself?
I am a sophomore at NC State majoring in Computer Science with a concentration in video game development. I am originally from the Bronx in New York but moved to Charlotte, NC when I was 2 years old. I got my first Wii console when I was 5 for Christmas and have loved playing video games ever since. I started developing games when I got to NC State where I joined the Video Game Development Club. I plan on going into the video game development industry as a level and gameplay designer.
What initially sparked your interest in technology?
I first got into technology when I got my first remote control car for Christmas when I was about 5 years old. I thought it was really cool that I could control a car remotely through a simple controller. This led to a strong interest in human-controlled electronics. Throughout middle school and high school I would move from RC cars to RC helicopters and then to flying drones. I also joined my high school’s robotics team where I built and drove large robots that would compete against other teams in game-style competitions. Now I develop games that emphasize skillful controller movement through game mechanics and level designs.
What has your interest in video game design and development looked like over time?
I actually did not have an interest in video game development until very recently when I came to NC State a couple of years ago. In high school I was the build captain of my robotics team and as such spent much of my time on designing and building the physical structure of the bot. I was originally planning on majoring in Mechanical Engineering and going into a career of building robots. I changed career paths due to an apprenticeship I did during my junior year of high school where I got to experience a few weeks as a mechanical engineer in the industry. I found the whole experience vapid and felt I would not enjoy doing this as my full-time job. A few months before coming to NC State I researched their Undergraduate programs looking for departments that interested me. I eventually came across the Computer Science department and was intrigued by their video game development concentration. I always loved playing video games as a child, but it had not dawned on me that I could create games for a living. After taking a few programming classes my freshman year and joining the Video Game Development club, I knew I wanted to be a game designer and developer. I am grateful for NC State for helping me navigate through my career development!
If there was a Goodnight Scholars Programming event all about video games, which ones would you pick for us to play, and why?
One of my favorite types of games I loved playing when I was younger were platformer games like Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Bros so I would definitely pick those 2 to play. In middle school I got into first-person shooters like Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2. I would highly recommend playing on the zombie apocalypse mode where you can fight off zombie hordes with cool power-ups and weapons. Battle royale games like Fortnite and Apex Legends are always a good choice because they give a high intensity feel to players and make you feel fully immersed in their world. I also love social deduction games like Among Us because it lets you get to know people better in a chill and low-stakes environment.
Can you tell us about your current internship with The Prometheus Group in Raleigh, and then about your upcoming summer internship with SAS? What are you most looking forward to with your SAS internship?
This semester I am interning at Prometheus Group as a Web and Mobile Developer in their Research & Development division. I have really enjoyed this experience thus far and have learned tons about good industry coding practices, different mobile software’s like Android Studio, and how to manage my time between classes and my internship. I am currently working on ways to improve their plant maintenance site using front-end technologies such as Visual Studio Code, XAML, Java, and C#. In the summer I plan on interning at SAS Institute in Cary, Raleigh developing new data source connection dialogs for their Federation Server Manager. I am excited to work in person at SAS as I have heard they have a beautiful campus with lots of amenities that employees can enjoy during their time at work.
What has been your favorite aspect of the Goodnight Scholars Program?
My favorite aspect of the Goodnight Scholars Program is its wonderful community! I made a lot of friends in the program and feel more comfortable here at NC State because of it. At the beginning of my freshman year I wasn’t sure if I would find a place I would fit in, especially being an introvert during the pandemic, but the Goodnight Scholars program helped me meet like-minded people who I can be myself around. I am very thankful to be a part of this community and having the opportunity to grow as a person along with my Goodnight peers!
Are there any NC State experiences you can’t graduate without going to or doing?
The Krispy Kreme Challenge is one event I want to do before I graduate. It’s a staple NC State college student experience and I would like to see if I can do a two-and-a-half mile run on a full stomach of donuts. I hope for this experience to be a true testament of my perseverance and will power!
Photography Credit: Rhiannon See, Goodnight Scholars Program