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Brenda Laurel  

Independent Scholar & Consultant; Founder of the Graduate Design Program at California College of the Arts

Brenda Laurel is a designer, researcher and writer. Her work focuses on interactive narrative, human-computer interaction, and cultural aspects of technology. She currently serves as chair of the new Graduate Program in Design at California College of the Arts. Her career in human-computer interaction spans over twenty-five years. She holds an M.F.A. and Ph.D. in theatre from the Ohio State University. Her doctoral dissertation was the first to propose a comprehensive architecture for computer-based interactive fantasy and fiction.

Brenda was one of the founding members of the research staff at Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto, California, where she coordinated research activities exploring gender and technology, and where she co-produced and directed the  Placeholder Virtual Reality project. She was also one of the founders and VP/Design of a spinoff company from Interval - Purple Moon - formed to market products based on this research.

Purple Moon was acquired by Mattel in 1999. In 1990 she co-founded Telepresence Research, Inc. to develop virtual reality and remote presence technology and applications. She has worked as a software designer, producer, and researcher for companies including Atari, Activision, and Apple. She served as Chair and graduate faculty member of the graduate Media Design Program  at the Art Center College of Design  in Pasadena, California, and also worked as a Senior Director and Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems Labs in Menlo Park, California.

Brenda has published extensively on topics including interactive fiction, computer games, autonomous agents, virtual reality, and political and artistic issues in interactive media. She is editor of the book The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design; author of Computers as Theatre; an online collection of essays entitled Severed Heads; author of the narrative of her start-up adventure of "games for girls" Utopian Entrepreneur; and her newest book is Design Research. Brenda lives with her husband Rob Tow at their house Locus Voci in the Santa Cruz mountains above the Silicon Valley region of the San Francisco bay area.

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