Brenda Laurel

Professor and Chair, Graduate Program in Design, California College of the Arts
San Francisco, CA, United States

About Brenda


BRENDA LAUREL is a researcher, teacher, writer and performer. Since Fall 2006 she has served as Chair of the transdisciplinary Graduate Program in Design at California College of Art in San Francisco. She chaired the graduate Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena from 2002 to 2006. She was also a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems Labs (2005-2006). Since 1976, her work has focused on the intersection of culture and technology. She co-founded Purple Moon to create interactive media for girls in 1996 (acquired by Mattel in 1999). The company was based on research in gender and technology at Interval Research (1992-1996). In 1990 she co-founded Telepresence Research, focusing on virtual reality and remote presence. Other employers include Atari, Activision, and Apple. A well-known speaker and writer, her books include The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design (1990), Computers as Theatre (1991), Utopian Entrepreneur (2001), and Design Research: Methods and Perspectives (2004). She earned her MFA (1975) and PhD in Theatre (1986) from the Ohio State University.


English, French

TED Conferences

TED2011, TED2010, TED2009, TED2008, TED2007, TED2006, TED2005

Areas of Expertise

Teaching, interaction design, Public Speaking, Writing, Utopian entrepreneurship, Virtual reality design, Design Research, Neo-Gaian Eco-Paganism

An idea worth spreading

Artists and designers, as activists, often marginalize themselves unwittingly. We begin to make change by placing ourselves at the center.

I'm passionate about

Design as a muscular profession, imagining and manifesting positive change in the world. Gaia as the organism that includes us all. Science as spiritual practice. Walking, trekking, and snorkeling.

Talk to me about

Politics, education, citizenship, VR, pagan spirtitual practice, symbiogenesis, sensor networks, gender, mental rotation, kelp forests, consumerism, ambient music, kids, science fiction and fantasy.

People don't know I'm good at

Tibetan bowls, underwater photography, Hoosier cooking, house-painting, Gilbert & Sullivan, the art of tree-hugging (strangely enough, this includes kelp).

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

Brenda Laurel
Posted over 6 years ago
Brenda Laurel: Games for girls
Thanks for the great discussion; it's about as illuminating as seeing oneself 10 years ago - i.e., VERY. My seriousness makes me laugh. A few other thoughts. (1) It's hard to run Moore's law backwards 10 years, but that's what you might want to do when thinking about game structure. (2) The "Armageddon" hack at the end was a JOKE. It was roughly based on the trailer for the Armageddon movie. It was meant to be a horrible marriage between "girls' games" and "boys' games". Even some of my students thought it was real! Ack! That's what ten years in the vault will do for you. (3) The segment of the game I showed was a bad choice because it showed a pretty stereotypic interaction. We had so much better, more honest plot pieces in the games - I don't know what I was thinking when I chose that one. Anyway, I appreciate the conversation. I would love to know more about who is working today to find ways of bringing some of the positive affordances of technology to more people. Gaming is one way "in" but there are others. Certainly, the "one computer per child" is doing it, and the "serious games" movement is trying to use games to address any number of social and educational issues with populations that aren't necessarily traditional game audiences. Thanks again for the comments.