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Brenda K. Laurel

Author: Brenda K. Laurel


Brenda Laurel is a pioneering writer, researcher, designer and entrepreneur in the fields of human-computer interaction, interactive narrative and cultural aspects of technology (see also Game Studies).

Laurel received an MFA in 1975, and later a Ph.D. in 1986, in theater from Ohio State University. Her doctoral dissertation proposed an architecture for computer-based interactive fictions. This idea formed the basis for her 1991 book Computers as Theatre, a seminal work in the field of human-computer interaction. She was also a magna cum laude of DePauw University upon receiving her BA in Speech and Theatre in 1972.

In the 1980s, Laurel worked as a designer and researcher at CyberVision, Atari and Activision. In 1990, with Scott Fisher, she founded Telepresence Research, a research and development company specializing in virtual reality and remote presence.

In 1992 Laurel began a four year gender and technology project with Interval Research Corporation. This led to the 1996 spin-off company Purple Moon, dedicated to producing software and other media targeted at pre-teen girls. Purple Moon was acquired by Mattel in 1999. Laurel wrote a book about that experience entitled Utopian Entrepreneur.

Between 1999 and 2006, Laurel was chair of the Media Design Program at the Art Center College of Design, and from 2005 to 2006, a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems. Laurel was appointed chair of the MFA Program in Design at California College of the Arts (CCA) in September 2006. She has two daughters (eldest is artist Hilary Hulteen, whose godfather is a longtime friend, the late counterculture icon Timothy Leary) and a stepdaughter. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband Rob Tow.

In addition to public speaking and consulting, she is a member of the boards of advisors of several companies and organizations, including Cheskin, the Communication Research Institute (Australia), and the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT.

She is active in the digital storytelling movement, the game design community (IGDA), AIGA, and the ACM.


Publication period start: 1989
Number of co-authors: 15


Number of publications with favourite co-authors
Nik Hafermaas
Tim Oren
Abbe Don

Productive Colleagues

Most productive colleagues in number of publications
S. Joy Mountford
Bill Buxton
Ben Shneiderman


Laurel, Brenda K. (2004): Narrative construction as play. In Interactions, 11 (5) pp. 73-74. https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/1015530.1015568

Don, Abbe, Brennan, Susan, Laurel, Brenda K., Shneiderman, Ben (1992): Anthropomorphism: From Eliza to Terminator 2. In: Bauersfeld, Penny, Bennett, John, Lynch, Gene (eds.) Proceedings of the ACM CHI 92 Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference June 3-7, 1992, Monterey, California. pp. 67-70. https://www.acm.org/pubs/articles/proceedings/chi/142750/p67-don/p67-don.pdf

Laurel, Brenda K., Bates, Joseph, Don, Abbe, Strickland, Rachel (1991): Interface and Narrative Arts: Contributions from Narrative, Drama, and Film. In: Robertson, Scott P., Olson, Gary M., Olson, Judith S. (eds.) Proceedings of the ACM CHI 91 Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference April 28 - June 5, 1991, New Orleans, Louisiana. pp. 381-383. https://www.acm.org/pubs/articles/proceedings/chi/108844/p381-laurel/p381-laurel.pdf

Don, Abbe, Oren, Tim, Laurel, Brenda K. (1991): Guides 3.0. In: Robertson, Scott P., Olson, Gary M., Olson, Judith S. (eds.) Proceedings of the ACM CHI 91 Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference April 28 - June 5, 1991, New Orleans, Louisiana. pp. 447-448. https://www.acm.org/pubs/articles/proceedings/chi/108844/p447-don/p447-don.pdf

Laurel, Brenda K., Oren, Tim, Don, Abbe (1990): Issues in Multimedia Interface Design: Media Integration and Interface Agents. In: Carrasco, Jane, Whiteside, John (eds.) Proceedings of the ACM CHI 90 Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference , 1990, Seattle, Washington,USA. pp. 133-139.

Mountford, S. Joy, Buxton, Bill, Krueger, Myron W., Laurel, Brenda K., Vertelney, Laurie (1989): Drama and Personality in User Interface Design. In: Bice, Ken, Lewis, Clayton H. (eds.) Proceedings of the ACM CHI 89 Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference April 30 - June 4, 1989, Austin, Texas. pp. 105-108.