Noelle Warner giving her Ted Talk

Noelle Warner

  • Major: English and Computer Science
  • Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
swipe to see more

When you tell your professors the plan is to focus on video games now that you’re in college, an enthusiastic “How can we help?” isn’t usually the response. But that’s exactly the reaction Noelle Warner ’19 got from Furman’s Margaret Oakes and Kevin Treu when they learned of her rather unique career aspirations.

Warner wanted to become one of the people creating those games, hopefully as a narrative writer, and Oakes, a professor of English, and Treu, a professor of computer science, recognized a unique opportunity.

“She’s groundbreaking for us. I think she’s groundbreaking as a female, and she’s on the newer edge of how people are thinking about video games,” Oakes said. “She was able to really see through talking to Kevin and me and doing a lot of her own research that this is actually a valid thing to think about professionally.”

So valid, in fact, that Warner left for Los Angeles in June to start her job with Skybound Games as a junior game writer. It was the culmination of four years of having the courage to chase her dream and the support to help her catch it.

While at Furman, Warner passionately explained what video games mean both for her personally and for the storytelling genre during a presentation at TedXFurmanU. She also landed an internship with Nerdist, one of the world’s most influential voices in gaming and pop culture, where she spent the summer of 2018 writing dozens of blog posts while immersing herself in the center of America’s gaming universe.

Oakes helped Warner set up independent study and summer research in the English department through The Furman Advantage that homed in on video game narrative, but perhaps the most significant step in her journey came when Treu convinced Warner to take on a highly unusual double major: English and computer science.

“I’d had the benefit of having her in my data mining class. I could tell her my observations of how strong of a student she was, what a keen analytical mind she had,” Treu said. “If you’re able to tell a student that sincerely, then that helps students get over any kind of kind of hump they might have for undertaking your program of study.”

“I think it’s a really innovative new storytelling medium, and that has touched me in terms of an emotional connection, because when I’m playing a game I’m really in it as opposed to observing it,” Warner said. “For me, it’s the excitement of being on the cusp of an entirely new medium that we have to explore that gets me jazzed.”