Speakers & Leaders
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Brenda Laurel has worked in interactive media since 1976—in the computer game industry from Atari to Activision, and in research labs at Atari, Interval Research, and as a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Labs. At the Banff Centre, she co-designed and produced the ground-breaking VR piece, Placeholder. She researched gender and technology at Interval and she co-founded Purple Moon—interactive media for girls—in 1996. She designed and chaired the Graduate Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design (2001-2006) and the Graduate Design Program at California College of the Arts (2006-2012). She also served as an adjunct Professor and Research Associate in the game design program and the center for Digital Arts and New Media at UC Santa Cruz (2013-2015). In 2015 she received the Trailblazer Award from Indiecade. She was awarded the Nextant Prize from the Virtual World Society in 2016. She serves on the boards of the Communication Research Institute (Australia) and the Virtual World Society. Her books include The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design (1990), Utopian Entrepreneur (2001), Design Research: Methods and Perspectives (2004), and Computers as Theatre, Second Edition (2014). Her recent papers include “What Is Virtual Reality?” (Medium) and “AR and VR: Cultivating the Garden” (MIT Press Journal Presence). She earned her PhD from Ohio State University in Drama Theory and Criticism. Her thesis was the first to propose and examine the dramatic structure of what would come to be known as virtual reality.
Joe Edelman is a philosopher, social scientist, and designer. He believes the current political moment demands a change in the way human systems (social networks, political systems, organizations) are designed; and making this change means having a clearer understanding of people and of how they live and cooperate. He uses games, immersive environments, and custom social networks to test ideas in these areas. His background includes HCI research labs and technology startups like CouchSurfing.