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Brenda Laurel

  • American designer

Brenda Laurel, Ph.D. works as an independent scholar and consultant. She is an advocate for diversity and inclusiveness in video games, a "pioneer in developing virtual reality", a public speaker and an academic. She is also a board member of several companies and organizations. She was founder and chair of the Graduate Design Program at California College of the Arts (2006–2012). and of the Media Design graduate program at Art Center College of Design (2000–2006). She has worked for Atari, co-founded the game development firm Purple Moon, and served as an interaction design consultant for multiple companies including Sony Pictures, Apple, and Citibank.


When you work with web design companies in San Francisco, you end up with a bunch of twenty-somethings who have their own cultural peculiarities, including obscurity for its own sake. You give those guys a website for a banking institution and they screw it up, because they are designing for themselves.




I fervently believe in research as a necessity for good design, and I teach it that way.




I learned in the computer game business early on that all senses are not equal. The best example is, you're listening to a radio play and you're driving down the road, and suddenly you realize you haven't seen the road in five minutes. It's because your visual cortex has been partying with your imagination, basically.




When I got started, I was a sideshow. At my first Consumer Electronics Show, in 1977 in Chicago, people came from all over the floor to see the 'lady programmer.' They had me dressed in a turquoise lab coat with my name embroidered on the pocket.




I don't understand computers. I've been unable to construct a working mental model of how they do what they do. I can break software by looking at it. I can blow anything up. Without trying. It's sort of like being a dowser. And this extreme elaborate clumsiness on my part is actually something people will pay me for. It's quite wonderful.




I think interactive television is doomed. It's a dead end.




Reality has always been too small for the human imagination. We're always trying to transcend.




Girls enjoy complex social interaction. Their verbal skills - and their delight in using them - develop earlier than boys'.




The game business arose from computer programs that were written by and for young men in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They worked so well that they formed a very lucrative industry fairly quickly. But what worked for that demographic absolutely did not work for most girls and women.




The airplane I usually fly has 450 horse power, and it's all made out of carbon fibre - you can't break it; your body will break before the airplane does.



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