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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

NYT’s writer hails contributions of Bailey, other female gaming pioneers

A New York Times article written by video game critic Chris Suellentropa references the contributions of UALR faculty member, Dona Bailey, and the development of the classic 1980s video arcade game, Centipede.

The article published on Aug. 19, “Saluting the Women Behind the Screen,” laments the endemic gender inequality that still persists in the decades-old video gaming industry. The article suggests that more resources should exist listing the contributions of women to the history of video games.

Dona-Bailey-98x150Suellentropa notes that Bailey was one of the few females at Atari, the company behind Centipede, which hired her in 1980 for its arcade division as its only female programmer.

The most dexterous of players found the game compellingly difficult.

Operated by a trackball, the game requires players to shoot at a multi-colored centipede as it slithered from the top of the screen toward the bottom. With each shot, the centipede would split, creating more targets to destroy, increasing the chances of the player losing to one of the fast encroaching centipedes.

Although Bailey left Atari in 1982, the iconic game still garners attention from video game buffs, and interest spiked with the 40th anniversary of Atari in 2012.

Bailey teaches rhetoric and writing at UALR and serves as coordinator of online composition.