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Chico State

CAGD Major Finds Her Calling in Gaming

Tyla Chadwick smiles for a portrait as she sits in front of two computer monitors that show the cover of a video game she designed.
(Matt Bates/University Photograp

Your college years are a time of exceptional growth—academically, socially, and philosophically. Who you are on day one is often very different from the person who throws their cap in the air at commencement. As members of the class of 2024 wrap up their time as undergraduates, we’re asking them to share their story of transformation.

Growing up, Tyla Chadwick dealt with stress-induced seizures and felt lost. Her life took a different turn when she learned her passion for video games and 3D modeling could lead to a career in computer animation.

“At Butte College, Julie Decker (former director of College Connections) knew I was obsessed with video games and encouraged me to try computer animation,” said Chadwick, a first-generation student from Oroville. 

Chadwick’s stepfather, who fueled her love for video games, encouraged her to enroll in Chico State’s Computer Animation and Game Development (CAGD) program.

“World of Warcraft (WoW) has been a part of my life since I was 3 years old,” she said.

Her stepfather introduced her mother to the game, and it became a family affair. Chadwick, her parents, her little brother, her nana, her aunt, and her cousins have all played the online role-playing game.

Since coming to Chico State, Chadwick has emerged as a top student in the CAGD program. In her capstone course this semester, Chadwick’s construction and management simulation game —Alchemic Crafter—was selected for development. In her game, graduates of a witch academy work to build their alchemy shop by gathering materials from an unruly forest. Her professors said it’s unusual for an animation production student to have their game selected, which speaks to the confidence they have in her ability to design and lead. 

“It’s probably the most important thing that I’ve done in my life,” Chadwick said.

Chadwick said her career goals are to work for Blizzard Entertainment and open an indie game development studio in Butte County.


In Her Own Words:

“When I started at Chico State, I had a lot of insecurities, poor health, and I had trouble socializing due to the hardship I faced growing up. I was homeschooled most of my life, and it caused me to have trouble in social situations and a lot of anxiety. I had an extremely hard time here at first, but my professors in CAGD are the best teachers I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t be able to communicate the way I do now if it wasn’t for Professors Jennifer Underwood and Connor Zelinsky. They are very caring, patient, and understanding. It’s so funny to see my progress because when I first came here, I couldn’t even talk to [my professors]. I was just hoping that they would notice that I was struggling.

[Underwood] helped me find myself and [Zelinsky] helped me on my bad days by cracking jokes. Professor Daniel Alioto taught me that my health matters and that I should take the time to take care of myself, which saved my life last semester. I am currently in the best health I have ever been in my entire life. The major I chose did not just feel like a major; it felt like a family.”