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Women in Games: The Gamasutra 20

May 21, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 10 of 21 Next

Brenda Laurel

Chair, Graduate Program in Design, California College of the Arts

Career overview

In 1996, Brenda Laurel co-founded Purple Moon, the first game design studio to focus on creating games for girls. She has, however, been involved in video games and interactive media for much longer than that. In the 1980's Laurel worked as a designer and researcher at Cybervision, Atari, and Activision. By 1990, she had co- founded Telepresence Research, a development and research company specializing in virtual reality.

Though Purple Moon was acquired by Mattel in 1999, Laurel has continued to contribute to the video game industry as the chair of the Media Design Program at The Art Center College of Design, and more recently as the chair of the MFA program in Design at California College of the Arts.

In addition to her work as a developer and a new media researcher, Laurel has written extensively on interactive fiction. Her books include The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design, Computers as Theater, and the tale of her own "games for girls" start-up, Utopian Entrepreneur.

Major accomplishments

Laurel has achieved amazing things in almost every aspect of the gaming industry. She has been a developer, a designer, a researcher, and has started numerous projects, including her own studio. As an author and a professor as well, her career has been full of artistic and intellectual successes.


Though games for girls may not be able to compete with blockbuster titles when it comes to recognition in the gaming industry, Laurel set out to do something truly new with Purple Moon. Her example continues to shape the way the industry thinks about gender and gaming today.

What her peers say

Sheri: "Going back to her very earliest beginning in the late '70s at CyberVisions and Atari, Brenda has been influential in growing this industry from its gritty beginnings to the multi-million dollar industry it is today. In the 1990's, when the wisdom of the game industry said, 'Girls don't play computer games!'

Brenda knew better and, with unparalleled courage, set out to prove the industry wrong. She established Purple Moon and her titles proved that not only do girls play games; they are interested in more than just fashion, makeup and shopping. She is truly one of the earliest pioneers and role models in the gender and games arena!"

Article Start Previous Page 10 of 21 Next

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