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‘He’d be delighted’: Top NYP graduate’s late father supported her passion for video games

SINGAPORE — She loved playing with video games in primary school, and her mother would confiscate the devices to curb excessive use. Ms Joy Wong Shiqi found an unlikely ally in her father, who would retrieve the games on the sly for her.

Ms Joy Wong Shiqi received her diploma in digital game and art design from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) on Friday (May 3) with a near-perfect grade point average of 3.99.

Ms Joy Wong Shiqi received her diploma in digital game and art design from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) on Friday (May 3) with a near-perfect grade point average of 3.99.

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SINGAPORE — She loved playing with video games in primary school, and her mother would confiscate the devices to curb excessive use.

Ms Joy Wong Shiqi found an unlikely ally in her father, who would retrieve the games on the sly for her.

“My mother would put the video games high up in a cupboard, so (my father) would climb on the bed to retrieve them, let me play and then put them back secretly,” she said.

Such experiences not only bonded the two, but sparked in Ms Wong a passion for video games and design.

She lost her father to lung cancer at 16, shortly before her GCE O-Level examinations.

But on Friday (May 3), the 19-year-old received her diploma in digital game and art design from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) with a near-perfect grade point average of 3.99.

Ms Wong also received the Lee Hsien Loong Award as the most outstanding graduate of her cohort of about 400 students at the School of Interactive and Digital Media.

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STUDYING AT THE HOSPICE

Her father was diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer when she was 15, and Ms Wong had to grow up quickly after that.

She studied for the O-Level exams every other day after school at her father’s bedside at the hospice.

“Of course, there were many times I asked myself, ‘Why did it have to be my father?’, but I think everything happens for a reason,” she said.

After her exams, she worked part-time as a barista at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf outlet near her home, earning around S$300 a month.

Her mother and older sister were working but Ms Wong — who also has an older brother living in Vietnam — wanted to help out and support herself.

“That (S$300) was just enough money for me to get by, I didn’t spend too much,” she said.

When she was strapped for cash, her friends would treat her to meals, she added.

Ms Wong also had to take on some chores that her father did at home.

“No one dared to catch the cockroaches in the house or unclog the sinks, so I had to,” she said.

IN PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE

Her aggregate result of 12 points (a combination of one language and five other best-scoring relevant subjects) for the O Levels could get her into a junior college, but Ms Wong enrolled in NYP against her mother’s and sister’s wishes.

“My mother and sister gave me 101 reasons to go to junior college, but I was insistent on going to polytechnic,” she said.

She had high expectations of herself.

In her first semester, she pleaded with a lecturer for a chance to resubmit an assignment in order to improve her grades.

“I had a C for one assignment on 'Introduction to 3D Modelling' and I was panicking (as it would pull down my grade),” she said.

“But I tried my hardest to improve and consult my teachers. In the end, I re-submitted my assignment and my grade improved to a B+,” she said.

Mr Muhammad Firman, one of her lecturers, said: “She’s always taking the initiative to find out about things she’s unsure about.”  

‘I’M HERE NOW BECAUSE...’

Ms Wong said that she had “so many concepts and ideas of games and art in my head” from a young age.

“I think there’s something satisfying in creating content for people… It’s just cool to make a game and have people play it.” 

She intends to enrol in the School Of Art, Design and Media at the Nanyang Technological University, and hopes to work in the entertainment and media industry in future.

Her mother and sister were present at Friday’s ceremony, and Ms Wong said of the award she received: “In primary and secondary school, it was always me who watched other people go on stage to receive awards, now it’s quite surprising that I am the one going on stage instead.”

She added: “I think my dad would be delighted… I’m here now because of the strength that the experience (with my father) has given me.”

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Nanyang Polytechnic diploma award game design video game

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