Purple Moon was an American developer of girls' video games based in Mountain View, California. Its games were targeted at girls between the ages of 8 and 14. The company was founded by Brenda Laurel and others, and supported by Interval Research.[4] They debuted their first two games, Rockett's New School and Secret Paths in the Forest, in 1997. Both games were more or less visual novels and encouraged values like friendship and decision making. Purple Moon's games were part of a larger girl games movement in the 1990s,[5] initiated largely by the surprise success of Mattel's 1996 CD-ROM game Barbie Fashion Designer.[6]

Purple Moon
FoundedNovember 1996 (1996-11)
FounderBrenda Laurel
DefunctFebruary 1999 (1999-02)
FateAssets purchased by Mattel
Key people
Nancy Deyo, chief executive
Brenda Laurel, vice president for design[2]
Kristee Rosendahl, webmaster
Pamela Dell, story director[3]
Number of employees
40[2] (1,999)

Laurel based her game design on four years of interview research she had done at Interval.[7]

An associated website, purple-moon.com, featured characters from the games and allowed users to trade virtual items. Some items arose from brand partnerships with companies such as Bonne Bell and SeaWorld. Children were required to have parental consent (email or verbal) in order to register on the site.[8]

Purple Moon's games faced some criticism such as claims that they perpetuated gender stereotypes and ethnic stereotypes.[9][10]

The company folded in spring of 1999 and was bought out by Mattel, creators of Barbie, one of the most famous and well-known franchises aimed at young girls.[2] Mattel kept Purple Moon's website running for a while but did not develop any further products.

In a 2009 interview, Laurel said that "In a way, the need for the kind of cultural intervention we made with Purple Moon no longer exists, in that girls and women are full participants in the world of computer-based interactivity, but we still have a problem with female designers getting their work out there. And there are many genres and areas of interest for girls and women that remain untouched. Heroes like Tracy Fullerton (USC), danah boyd (now at Microsoft, I believe), Justine Cassell (Northwestern) and Henry Jenkins (founder of the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT and moving now to USC) keep the flame burning for women in gaming."[11]


Rockett series
Secret Paths series
Other games


  1. ^ Takahashi, Dean (19 Feb 1999). "Purple Moon Ceases Operations Amid Tough Rivalry From Barbie". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Harmon, Amy (22 March 1999). "With the Best Research and Intentions, a Game Maker Fails". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  3. ^ Laurel, Brenda (1999). "New Players, New Games". Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  4. ^ Gurak, Laura J. (2001). Cyberliteracy: navigating the Internet with awareness. Yale University Press. p. 75. ISBN 0-300-08979-1.
  5. ^ Richard Colby; Matthew S. S. Johnson; Rebekah Shultz Colby (20 March 2013). Rhetoric/Composition/Play through Video Games: Reshaping Theory and Practice of Writing. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-30768-2.
  6. ^ Laurel, Brenda (2001). Utopian Entrepreneur. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-62153-3.
  7. ^ Laurel, Brenda (1998). "Technological humanism and values-driven design". Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: 104. doi:10.1145/286498.286555. ISBN 1-58113-028-7. S2CID 30422135.
  8. ^ Riedman, Patricia (27 April 1998). "Purple Moon Courts Sponsors: Girls Site Balances Revenue Needs with Children Privacy Issues". Advertising Age. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  9. ^ Huang, Amy; Ring, Ashley; Toich, Shelley; Torres, Teresa (15 March 1998). "Purple Moon: Thanks but No Thanks for Rockett's New School". GREAT: Gender Relations in Educational Applications of Technology. Archived from the original on 3 April 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  10. ^ Eisenberg, Rebecca (13 February 1998). "Girl Games: Adventures in Lip Gloss". Gamasutra. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  11. ^ McManus, Emily (2 March 2009). "We brought girls roaring into the online game space: Brenda Laurel Q&A". TED Blog. Retrieved 16 May 2017.

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