Writer, researcher, designer and entrepreneur in the fields of human-computer interaction, interactive narrative and cultural aspects of technology.
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.
In the 1980s, she 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 she began a four year gender and technology project with Interval Research Corporation. This lead 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 has been chair of the Media Design Program at the Art Center College of Design, and since 2005, a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems. Laurel has been appointed chair of the MFA Program in Design at California College of the Arts (CCA) in September 2006. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband Rob Tow.
- Design Research: Methods and Perspectives, MIT Press, (2004) ISBN 0-26212-263-4
- Utopian Entrepreneur, MIT Press (2001) ISBN 0-26262-153-3
- Computers as Theatre, Addison-Wesley (1991) ISBN 0-20155-060-1
- The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design, Addison-Wesley (1990) ISBN 0-20151-797-3
- Computer as Theatre. Brenda Laurel in Conversation with Sabine Breitsameter. June 2002. http://www.swr.de/swr2/audiohyperspace/engl_version/interview/laurel.html