Danielle Bunten Berry was a pioneer game developer who created one of the first successful multiplayer games on the Atari platform, which required players to both compete and cooperate.
“It is a measure of Dani Bunten’s genius and enduring legacy, then, that Bunten is still considered something of a rock star among game designers and those interested in the history of games.”David Koon (Feb 08 2012): Danielle Bunton changed video games forever: The story of a (largely) forgotten game designer from Arkansas
Born in 1949 in St. Louis, Missouri, Missouri, Danielle Bunten moved to Little Rock, Arkansas as a junior in high school. In 1974, she earned a B.S. in industrial engineering; a few years later she began applying this training to computer programming, creating text-based computer games for fun. By 1978, she had completed her first computer game: Wheeler Dealers. The game ran on Apple II computers and necessitated a custom controller. This set up the game relatively expensive and inaccessible—leading to the game only selling 50 copies.
A year later, in 1979, Bunten partnered with her brother and a few friends to found the game company Ozark Software. The group ran the organization from Bunton’s basement in Little Rock and began working with larger gaming firms, including Electronic Arts.
In 1983, Bunten developed and released M.U.L.E., one of the first successful multiplayer games. An 8-bit family Atari game inspired by Robert A. Heinlein’s novel Time Enough for Love, M.U.L.E involved competing against and cooperating with other players in order to colonize a planet. A year later, she developed The Seven Cities of Gold.
In 1983, Ozark released M.U.L.E., a multiplayer strategy game which required users to both compete against and cooperate with one another to colonize a planet. A successful and highly reviewed game, M.U.L.E. sold 30,000 copies across various computer platforms. Bunten passed away of lung cancer in 1998 at the age of 49. Earlier that year, the Computer Game Developers Association gave her their coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.