Brenda Laurel

Independent Scholar

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 as a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Labs. At the Banff Centre, she co-designed and produced the ground-breaking VR piece, Placeholder. She researched gender and technology at Interval and she co-founded Purple Moon—interactive media 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). She also served as an adjunct Professor in the Games and Palayble 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. She serves on the boards of the Interaction Design Association, the Virtual World Society, 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, Second Edition (2014). Her recent papers include “What Is Virtual Reality?” (Medium) and “AR and VR: Cultivating the Garden” (MIT Press Journal Presence). She earned her MFA in acting and directing and her PhD in drama theory and criticism from The Ohio State University. Her thesis was the first to propose and examine the dramatic structure of what would come to be known as virtual reality. She currently works as an independent scholar and consultant.