Ph.D. The Ohio State University, Department of Theatre, theory and criticism, 1986. Dissertation: “Toward the Design of a Computer-Based Interactive Fantasy System.”
M.F.A. Ohio State University, Department of Theatre, acting and directing, 1975
B.A. DePauw University, Speech and Theatre, magna cum laude, 1972
2006- Chair, Graduate Program in Design, California College of the Arts
Shaping a new curriculum and faculty for a graduate degree in design with concentrations in graphics, interaction, environmental and industrial design, to be launched in fall 2007.
2005-2006 Distinguished Engineer and Senior Director, Sun Microsystems Laboratories
Leader of Experience Design initiative within Sun Labs. Projects involved life-sized video interaction at a distance, game server, and mobile devices. Patent filed for video-on-demand UI.
2002-2006 Chair, Media Design Program, Art Center College of Design
Chair, primary faculty for Super Studio course, and graduate student advisor. Architect and professor for the Art Center Design Research curriculum.
1999-2002 Co-Creator of a new curriculum for New Media, professor, core faculty member.
1999-now Consultant and Speaker
Consulting in design research, usability, and identity for clients such as Cheskin Research, AT&T, Nielsen Norman Group, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Leapfrog, and the Macarthur Foundation. Public speaking for educational, professional, and business audiences.
1996-1999 Purple Moon
Founder and Vice President/Design, Member of the Board of Directors for a transmedia company devoted to preteen girls.
1992-1997 Interval Research Corporation
Member of the Research Staff, Technology and Culture. Managed a four-year R&D effort to understand relationships between gender and technology among children and teens.
Consultant in interaction design for clients such as Apple, LucasArts Entertainment, Epyx, American Interactive Media, BrŅderbund, Citibank, Carnegie Mellon University, Fujitsu Labs, Paramount New Media, Sony Pictures, and the Communication Research Institute of Australia.
1990-91 Telepresence Research, Inc.
Co-founder and President for a company that provided research and development in virtual environments and remote presence systems.
1985-87 Activision, Inc.
Director of Product Development, Learning and Creativity
1980-84 Atari, Inc.
1982-84 Member of the Research Staff, Atari Sunnyvale Research Lab
1980-82 Manager, Software Marketing, Home Computer Division
1977-80 CyberVision, Inc.
1978-80 Manager, Educational Product Design
1977-78 Software Designer and Programmer
Ongoing Theatre Work and Teaching
1964-now Actor and director, academic, professional, and community theatre; video, radio and TV.
1992-93 Script consultant for Oliver Stone’s ABC Miniseries, Wild Palms.
1972-79 Teacher of courses in general theatre, acting, and directing at Ohio State, Otterbein College and University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.
Ongoing Other Work
2000-now Member, Board of Advisors, Cheskin
1998-now Member, Board of Advisors, MIT Comparative Media Studies Program
1993-now Member, Board of Governors, Communication Research Institute (Australia)
1991-now Reader and thesis committee member, MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, TU Delft, and other colleges and universities
1988-91 Co-founder and Member of the Board of the Computer Game Developers' Conference
Recent Awards and Honors
Equity Award, American Association for Higher Education, 2004
Chrysler Award Nominee, 2002
National Design Award in Product Design Nominee, Cooper-Hewitt Museum, 2002
Big Brothers / Big Sisters Achievement Award, 2001
Girls Scouts of Santa Clara, CA, World of Today and Tomorrow Award, 1999
Girls Inc. Award for Leading Women in Animation, 1998
Top 25 Women on the Web, Webgrrls, 1998
25 Most Influential Working Women, Working Woman, 1997
First Technology Fellow, University of California at Monterey Bay, 1997
Editor, Design Research: Methods and Perspectives, MIT Press, 2004
Utopian Entrepreneur, MIT Press, 2001
Computers as Theatre. Addison-Wesley, 1991. Paperbound edition (revised), 1993
Editor, The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design. Addison-Wesley, 1990
“Piercing the Spectacle,” in Rules of Play Reader, K. Salen and E Zimmermen, eds., MIT Press, 2005.
“Narrative Construction as Play.” Interactions Magazine, September 2004.
“Design from the Heart,” in Women, Art and Technology, Judy Malloy, ed., MIT Press, 2003.
“Vital Narratives,” in Narrative Intelligence, Phoebe Sengers and Michael Mateas, eds., John Benjamins, 2003.
“New Perspectives: Computers as Theatre,” in Anwenderfreundliche Kummunikationssysteme, Ralf Reilchwald and Manfred Lang, eds., Heidelberg: Hüthig Verlag, 1999.
“An Interview with Brenda Laurel.” In From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games, Justine Cassell and Henry Jenkins, eds., MIT Press, 1999.
“Musings on Amusements in America.” In The Digital Dialectic: New Essays on New Media, Peter Lunenfeld, ed. MIT Press, 1999.
“Interface Agents: Metaphors with Character.” In Human Values and the Design of Computer Technology, Batya Friedman, ed., Cambridge University Press, 1998.
“Commentary: Virtual Reality.” Scientific American. Vol. 273, No. 3 (September 1995).
“Placeholder: Landscape and Narrative in Virtual Environments,” with Rachel Strickland and Rob Tow. Computer Graphics, Vol. 28 No. 2 (May 1994), pp. 118-126.
“Kids Online: Do Something Constructive!” Edutopia, George Lucas Education Foundation, Jan. 1993.
“Immersion Technologies.” Wired, December 1993.
“Global Media and Cultural Diversity.” TISEA Catalog, November 1992.
“Artistic Frontiers in Virtual Reality.” SIGGRAPH ‘92 Catalog, July 1992.
“Art and Activism in VR.” Verbum, Journal of Personal Computer Aesthetics. Vol. 5, No. 2 (December 1991).
“Strange New Worlds of Entertainment.” Compute, November 1991.
“Global Media and Common Ground.” Verbum Interactive 1.0, May 1991.
“Virtual Reality Design: A Personal View.” Multimedia Review, Summer 1990.
“Issues in Multimedia Interface Design: Media Integration and Interface Agents.” Brenda Laurel, Tim Oren, and Abbe Don. Proceedings of CHI '90 (ACM SIGCHI). April 1990. Reprinted in Multimedia Interface Design, M. Blattner and R. Dannenerg, eds. ACM Press/Addison-Wesley, 1992.
“On Dramatic Interaction.” Verbum, Journal of Personal Computer Aesthetics. Vol. 3, No. 3 (November 1989).
“Games Women Play: Some Alternative Approaches.” The Journal of Computer Game Design, Vol. 2, No. 5 (July-August 1989).
“A Taxonomy of Interactive Movies.” The Boston Computer Society, New Media News, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Winter 1989).
“Culture Hacking.” The Journal of Computer Game Design, Vol. 1, No. 8 (Aug.-Sept. 1988).
“Reassessing Interactivity.” The Journal of Computer Game Design, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Oct.-Nov. 1987).
“Toward the Design of a Computer-Based Interactive Fantasy System.” Ph.D. Dissertation, The Ohio State University, 1986.
“Interface as Mimesis.” In Norman, D. A. and Draper, S., Eds., User Centered System Design: New Perspectives on Human-Computer Interaction. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1986.
Interface Design” (co-authored with Eric A. Hulteen). Atari Research Memo #22,
“The Poetics of Interactive Form.” Atari Research Memo #17, December 1982.
Selected Presentations and Workshops
“Designing with New Media: Students Looking Forward.” Keynote, New Media Consortium National Conference, Cleveland, OH, June 2006.
“Beyond Barbie vs. Mortal Kombat.” Panel, NSF-funded conference on gender and gaming, UCLA, May 2006.
“Design Education 2020.” Invited lecture, Ontario College of Art and Design, April 2006.
“Design in Technology Education,” Hanzehogeschool, Groningen, Netherlands. November 2005.
“Design Research: Case Studies.” Stephen Weiss Memorial Lecture, Parsons School of Design New York, August 2005.
“Design Research: Informed Creativity.” Invited lecture, University of Memphis, University of Minnesota, and other educational and corporate venues, 2003-2004.
“The Invisible Kingdom: In Search of the Feminine in Technology Design,” Keynote, IFWE conference for women in e-learning, Phoenix, August 2004.
“Using New Technologies to Engage New Audiences.” Invited address, ASTC Conference, The Tech Museum, San Jose, August 2004.
“Oh, the Stories We Tell.” Invited address, Art Center Design Conference, Pasadena, CA, March 2004.
“Achieving a State of Trans.” Keynotes, Information Architecture Summit, Austin, TX, March 2004; SXSW Interactive, Austin, TX, March 2004; invited lecture, Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, March 2004.
“Design Research in Action.” Invited address, AIGA Conference, Vancouver, Canada, October 2003.
“Integrative Design.” Keynote, Syllabus 2003, San Jose, CA, July 2003.
“Knowledge in the Age of the Internet.” Keynote, Millennium-Tage Kassel, Kassel, Germany, October 2002.
“Web Literacy and Vital Narratives,” invited address, Ohio State University, May 2002.
“Teaching with Technology.” Keynote, Teaching with Technology conference, University of Colorado at Boulder, June 2002.
“Collaborating in Cultural Change.” Keynote, UmeĆ Forum, UmeĆ, Sweden, June 2002.
“Reclaiming Media: Doing Culture Work in These Weird Times.” Invited address, AIGA Voice, Washington, D.C., March 2002.
“Cultural Change through Collaboration.” Keynote, RIMA, Quebec City, Quebec, March 2002.
“Utopian Entrepreneurship.” Invited talk, Stanford University, February 2002.
“Culture Work in Higher Education: Strategy and Tactics.” NCII Educause Conference, San Diego, January 2002.
“Gender and Game Design” and “Story Spaces for Children.” Indiana University, January 2002.
“Research Techniques and Ethics.” Carelton College, Minnesota, January 2002.
“Culture Work in Cyberspace.” Digital Frontier Conference, University of Buffalo, NY, November 2001.
“Integrated Circuit: A View of Nature and Technology.” Science & the Spritual Quest, Paris, June 2001.
“Ethics in HCI” (panel) and judge, “Interactionary,” CHI 2001, Seattle, April 2001.
“Game Design / Game Culture.” Panel, Game Developers’ Conference, San Jose, March 2001.
“Verge,” Moderator, AIGA conference on Experience Design, New York, March 2001.
“Content & Design in a Transmedia World,” Nielsen/Norman Group Tour, Europe, U.S. and Asia, 2000-1.
“New Players, New Games,” Keynote, Game Developers’ Conference, San Jose, CA, March 1999.
“Games Girls Play,” Doors of Perception Conference, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Nov. 1998.
“Researching Girls and Technology,” Keynote, Camden Technology Conf., Camden ME, Oct. 1998.
“Exploring Interactive Story Space,” Keynote, Digital Storytelling Festival, Crested Butte CO, Sept. 1998.
“Technological Humanism and Values-Driven Design,” Keynote, CHI ’98, Los Angeles, April 1998.
“Technology and Learning,” panel with Roy Pea and Jerry Michaelski, PC Forum, Tucson, Mar. 1998.
“Technological Humanism,” Keynote, MILIA ‘98, Cannes, France, February 1998.
“Listening to Girls,” TED8, Monterey, January 1998.
“Generation XX: Girls, Tech, and Popular Culture,” Agenda ’98, Phoenix, October 1998.
“The Ethos of Computing,” Invited address, ACM’97 (hosted by James Burke), the 50th Anniversary of Computing, San Jose, CA, March 1997.
“Cognition, Perception and Experience in the Virtual Environment: Do You See What I See?” Panel, SIGGRAPH ‘96, New Orleans, July 1996.
“Technology and the Self,” panel with Marvin Minsky, Bran Ferren, Sherry Turkle, Danny Hillis, and Kevin Kelly. Seventh Roundtable in Multimedia, Marina Del Rey, March 1996.
“Intending the Future.” Keynote addresses, Educom ‘95, Portland, OR, November 1995 and Connections ‘96 Conference, Puget Sound Educational Service District, Tacoma, WA, January 1996.
Keynote, Rensselear Polytechnic Institute Virtual Reality Symposium. Albany, NY, October 1995.
“My Life in (Interactive) Art.” Multimedia Pioneers Series, San Francisco State University, Nov. 1995.
“Transforming the Relationship between Technology and Nature.” Doors of Perception, Amsterdam (via videoconference), November 1995.
“Gender and Technology — What Problem?” Panel, International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA ‘95), Montreal, September 1995.
“Musings on Amusements in America.” Digital Dialectic Conference, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, September 1995.
“Dramatic Interaction in Placeholder.” AAAI ‘95 Spring Symposium on Interactive Story Systems: Plot and Character. Stanford University, CA, March 1995.
Seminar on interaction for Canadian filmmakers. Interactive Screen Workshop, Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Alberta, Canada, January 1995.
“Real Bodies in Virtual Worlds.” Cybersphere, International Symposium on Cyberspace, Stockholm, Sweden, October 1994.
“Theatrical Design and New Technologies.” Keynote, Theatre & Education Conference, Tempe, Arizona, August 1994.
“Computer Graphics and Human Evolution.” Panel, SIGGRAPH '94, Orlando, FL, July 1994.
“A Dialogue with Nature.” Fourth International Conference on Cyberspace. Banff, Alberta, June 1994.
“Artists and Technologists in Collaboration.” Keynote, Fourth International Symposium on Electronic Art, Minneapolis, MN, November 1993.
“Post-Virtual Reality.” MIT Symposium on Mind and Media, February 1993.
“Learning in Virtual Worlds.” Keynote addresses, ISTE Technology in the Rockies Conference, Denver, CO, October 1992, and CUE (Computer-Using Educators), San Jose, CA, October 1992.
“LBE: The L is for Location.” Digital World, Beverly Hills, CA, June 1992.
“The Future of Television.” Keynote, PREPUT/INPUT (public television producers), Baltimore, May 1992.
“Anthropomorphism in the Interface.” Panel, ACM SIGCHI ‘92, Monterey, CA, May 1992.
“Multimedia as Designed Experience.” Keynote, CD-I Developers’ Conference, San Diego, April 1992.
“Telepresence.” Lecture and workshop, Informatique ‘92: Interface to Real and Virtual Worlds, Montpellier, France, March 1992.
“Form and Interactive Media.” Lectures on Society, Technology, and Representation, California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco, February 1992.
“Control, Collaboration, and Emergent Form.” TED3, Monterey, CA, February 1992.
“Future Visions in Interactive Media.” The New Digital Human Be-In, San Francisco, CA, Jan. 1992.
“Be There Here: Telepresence and Virtual Reality.” Seminar, Human Computer Interaction Project on People, Computers and Design. Stanford University, Dept. of Computer Science, November 1991.
“Telepresence.” Invited lecture, NTT Technology Seminar Series. Tokyo, October 1991.
“The Cybernetic Frontier: Speculations on the Future of Human-Computer Interaction.” Keynote, Designing Information for People Symposium, Communication Research Institute of Australia. Canberra, Australia, October 1991.
“Telepresence and Virtual Reality.” Keynote, Mosaic Conference, Australian Computer Society. Adelaide, Australia, October 1991.
“Telepresence and Virtual Reality.” Lectures. University of Technology, Sydney; Swinburne Institute of Technology, Melbourne; Australian National University, Canberra; Command Support Systems, Australian National Defense Organization, Canberra; and University of Canberra. October 1991.
“Art and Activism in VR.” Symposium on Virtual Reality, San Francisco Art Institute, Sept.1991.
“Fusion Education: Resources for the Twenty-First Century Computer Artist.” Educators' Panel, SIGGRAPH '91. Las Vegas, July 1991.
“Telepresence: Its Origins and Future in Art and Communication.” Virtual Reality Panel, Stanford Design Conference. Stanford, CA, July 1991.
Invited contributor, International Workshop on Virtual Reality. Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA, June 1991.
“Art and Artistry in Telepresence.” 2nd Int’l Conference on Cyberspace. Santa Cruz, CA, April 1991.
“Interface and Narrative Arts: Contributions from Narrative, Drama, and Film.” Panel Chair, CHI '91 (ACM SIGCHI). New Orleans, April 1991.
“The Telepresence Medium.” Lecture, Athens Film Festival, Ohio University, April 1991.
“Changing Minds: Persuasion and Representation in Computer Games.” Computer Game Developers' Conference. San Jose, CA, March 1991.
“Global Media and Common Ground.” Lecture, Art Futura, Barcelona, January 1991.
“Virtual Reality Design.” Lecture, International Forum on Multimedia, Tokyo, October, 1990.
“The Face in the Rock.” Lecture, Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria, September 1990.
“Interface and New Interactive Systems.” Panel Chair. SIGGRAPH '90, Dallas, August 1990.
“AI and Interactive Fiction Workshop.” Workshop co-chair, with Joseph Bates of Carnegie Mellon University. AAAI, Boston, July 1990.
“Gender and Cultural Bias in Computer Games.” Panel Chair. Computer Game Developers' Conference, San Jose, CA, April, 1990.
“Cyberspace/Artificial Reality.” Panel. Multimedia and Hypermedia Expo. San Francisco, CA, June 1989.
Personal Interests and Activities
Activism and citizenship: Active in multiple organizations devoted to environmentalism and human rights.
Digital storytelling: Collaborator with the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley, CA.
Popular culture: Professional necessity and personal fascination –science fiction film &TV, Trek, Grateful Dead.
Writing: Fiction, poetry, and musings on politics and culture.
Photography: Nature and underwater photography and videography.
Playing in nature: Hiking, camping, snorkeling, abalone hunting, boogie-boarding.
Tai Ch’I (Wu form): Individual practice and instruction at Art Center.
Improvisation and theatre sports: In classrooms, companies, and just for fun, theatre sports keep the mind limber and shyness at bay.