At 29, She Was A Trailblazer. At 40, She Was Gone. Here’s Why You Should Know Her Name.

Theresa Duncan. It's a name you probably don't know. But as the gaming world continues to wrestle with the importance of women creating, playing, and appearing in video games, there was a woman who started working all this out a long, long time ago.

Back in the mid-1990s, computers were young and dumb.

Video games, too: They were almost all about violence. Successful gamemakers targeted the action straight at the blunt-force minds of so many young teenage boys. If girls liked a game, well, that was just a bonus.

Duncan wondered if they weren't missing something.

Why did video games have to be so dumb? How about some games that were truly creative? How about games with some emotional depth to them?


She decided to create games for kids who don't care about blood and noise. Like young girls. (Full disclosure: Not all boys like to kill either.)

And so Duncan and co-creator Monica Gesue set out to create a video game for 7- to 12-year-old girls.

In 1995, they released it.

Chop Suey

Chop Suey was imaginative, crazy, and fun. It was a hit. Duncan was right: Girls did love it. And it was declared CD-ROM of the Year 1995 by Entertainment Weekly.

Two more games followed.

Smarty (1996)

Zero Zero (1998)

After seeing her games safely into kids' hands, Duncan's attention turned to animation, with unique films like her "The History of Glamor." But even after such a brilliant first act, Duncan's career was cut short when she committed suicide in 2007, at 40.

Time passed.

Duncan's audience grew up. Old games like Chop Suey, Smarty, and Zero Zero can't run with today's hardware and operating systems, so the CD-ROMs have disappeared into drawers, closets, and landfills.

Rescue.

Rhizome, an Internet-based arts organization, is joining with University of Freiburg, Germany, to bring back Chop Suey, Smarty, and Zero Zero, this time online. Anyone will be able to spend some time in their wackadoodle universes. Rhizome recently completed a Kickstarter campaign to raise money, and an exhibition of Duncan's work is planned at the New Museum.

Here's the Rhizome Kickstarter video:

The re-discovery of a pioneer.

Think about it. The 7- to 12-year-old girls who were in Duncan's audience in 1995 are now 26- to 31-year-old women. Millennials. These games are no doubt hiding in the back of many Millennial minds. You gotta wonder what effect they've had. Did you play these games when you were a kid?

Many people have never heard of Theresa Duncan, and it's time this gaming visionary is finally granted her rightful place in history.

More
The Guardian / YouTube

Earlier this month, a beluga whale caught the world's attention by playing fetch with a rugby ball thrown by South African researchers off the waters of Norway.

The adorable video has been watched over 20 million times, promoting people across the globe to wonder how the whale became so comfortable around humans.

It's believed that the whale, known as Hvaldimir, was at some point, trained by the Russian military and was either released or escaped.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / Katie Sturino

Plus-size women are in the majority. In America, 68% of women wear a size 14 or higher. Yet many plus-sized are ignored by the fashion industry. Plus-sized clothing is a $21 billion industry, however only one-fifth of clothing sales are plus-sized. On top of that, plus-sized women are often body shamed, further reinforcing that bigger body types are not mainstream despite the fact that it is common.

Plus-size fashion blogger Katie Sturino recently called out her body shamers. Sturino runs the blog, The 12ish Style, showing that plus-sized fashion isn't – and shouldn't be – limited to clothes that hide the body.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular