Brenda Laurel has worked in interactive media since 1976, in the computer game industry from Atari to Activision, and in research labs at Atari, Interval Research, and Sun Labs where she was a Distinguished Engineer. In 1988 she co-founded the Game Developers Conference. At the Banff Centre for the Arts, she co-designed and produced the ground-breaking VR piece, Placeholder.
She led a research team on gender and technology at Interval Research (1992-1996) and co-founded Purple Moon, an interactive media company for girls, in 1996. She designed and chaired the Graduate Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design (2001-2006) and the Graduate Design Program at California College of the Arts (2006-2012), both emphasizing design research and transmedia methods and skills. She also served as an adjunct Professor in the Games and Playable Media Program at UC Santa Cruz (2013-2015).
In 2015 she received the Trailblazer Award from Indiecade. She was awarded the Nextant Prize from the Virtual World Society in 2016 and was inducted as a Fellow of the Higher Education Videogame Alliance in 2018. She serves on the boards of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) and the Communication Research Institute (Australia). Her books include The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design (1990), Utopian Entrepreneur (2001), Design Research: Methods and Perspectives (2004), and Computers as Theatre, (1991, Second Edition 2014).
Back in the mid 1990s when girls were not using computers nearly so much as boys, I embarkedon a research journey to create games that would engage them, bolster their confidence withtechnology, and offer them an environment and characters in which they could see themselves.That journey led to the founding of Purple Moon Media.Challenging stereotypes means meeting people where they are. My work has involved human-centered qualitative research with diverse populations, including tween girls, little boys, babyboomers in the US, and young American adults. In every case, interviewing them, at home or inother venues, has led to surprising results and design innovations. I will show a few of theseprojects with an emphasis on methodology - not only research methods but also how we candeal with our own biases and manifest intentions for the Good. Most recently I have beenengaged with Queer, Latino, Black, and Transgender designers in a quest for equity andeffective allyship in the design community.