WoW Blog (Woman of the Week) Blog

WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

Do you know of a great woman in engineering that should be recognized? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add her to the blog. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

Previous in Blog: Lise Meitner (November 7, 1878 – October 27, 1968)   Next in Blog: Donna Shirley - Mars Exploration Program Manager
Close
Close
Close
3 comments

Dona Bailey: Centipede Creator

Posted October 23, 2007 9:11 AM by t-rex

Dona Bailey was the only female software engineer at Atari in 1980 when she created Centipede. Centipede was the first coin-operated arcade game to be programmed by a woman and it was the first to have a significant female player base. The game was co-developed by Ed Logg. In the early '80s, the video gaming industry was in its infancy. The ratio of male to female engineers was 30 to 1 at Atari when Dona took the software engineering position. She was under incredible pressure to perform well just because she was a woman. Even after Centipede was released she felt pressure because some believed it was just a fluke.

In today's video gaming world, Centipede would be considered just a casual game. Dona believes it was never a casual game; it was an action game with a story. Centipede was one of the first video games to use artificial intelligence (AI). In the Centipede game the player shoots lasers at a centipede that winds itself through a field of mushrooms. When the centipede is hit, the segment becomes a mushroom and the insect splits in half continuing its way even faster through the mushroom maze. Other insects also join the game. Spiders and fleas are worth points and fleas leave behind mushrooms. The player 'dies' when hit by a centipede fragment or other insect.

Dona Bailey got her start in programming by learning assembly language at General Motors (GM). She now teaches courses in game design at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Recently she was the keynote speaker at the Women in Games International conference. Dona was excited to speak to an audience that would be celebrating women in the gaming industry. There are two things important to Dona: power and art. She believes that young women need to become empowered. She says they don't teach this in school, but it's really necessary in a professional setting. Dona also believes that video games are moving in the art direction and she would like to see them treated more like fine art projects.

Resources:

https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1659/the_original_gaming_bug_centipede_.php?page=2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dona_Bailey

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - Organizer Hobbies - Target Shooting - New Member Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2970
Good Answers: 33
#1

Re: Dona Bailey: Centipede Creator

10/23/2007 9:51 AM

Thanks for posting this, t-rex. Some may say that gaming is not the stuff of "great scientists or engineers", but Donna Bailey helped grow what is now a $6-billion industry in the U.S. alone. And that's pretty significant.

Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16499
Good Answers: 662
#2
In reply to #1

Re: Dona Bailey: Centipede Creator

10/23/2007 10:40 AM

Too right... there was a time when the military was the driving force in computing...it's long since been overhauled by the gaming market .

Nice one Donna

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 22865
Good Answers: 415
#3
In reply to #2

Re: Dona Bailey: Centipede Creator

10/24/2007 3:39 PM

Military may have been the driving force, but this is what offshoots from that.

It's good to see a face behind one of the foundation games of the 80's.

And a pioneer in its own right.

hats off to you Donna

__________________
“ When people get what they want, they are often surprised when they get what they deserve " - James Wood
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 3 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Del the cat (1); phoenix911 (1); Steve Melito (1)

Previous in Blog: Lise Meitner (November 7, 1878 – October 27, 1968)   Next in Blog: Donna Shirley - Mars Exploration Program Manager
You might be interested in: Speakers, Desktop Personal Computers

Advertisement