M.U.L.E. Creator Dani Bunten Berry to Join AIAS Hall of Fame

Joining a group whose ranks include industry luminaries such as Will Wright, John Carmack, Shigeru Miyamoto, Sid Meier, Peter Molyneux, Richard Garriott, and Trip Hawkins, late M.U.L.E. designer and multiplayer innovator Dani Bunten will next month become the latest inductee into the American Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.

Bunten's seminal 1983 multiplayer turn-based strategic simulation M.U.L.E., delivered by her studio Ozark Software for Electronic Arts, was not a commercial success but became a widely played and massively influential work, one frequently cited to this day among designers. The less ambitious but more commercially palatable adventure The Seven Cities of Gold followed, and was a rare strong seller for Bunten, spawning the successor Heart of Africa. Continuing with her multiplayer innovation, Bunten released the modem-compatible Modem Wars, which suffered due to low modem penetration at the time. Two more networked games followed, Command HQ in 1990 and the four-player landmark Global Conquest in 1992, both at friend Sid Meier's studio Microprose.

In 1992, Bunten--born Daniel Bunten--underwent a male-to-female sex change operation and took the name Dani Bunten Berry. Around that time she became less publicly involved in the games industry and her design output dropped. Nonetheless she continued working on games on a more infrequent basis, gave talks, and published her writings on her personal site. About her chosen field of multiplayer items, she remarked, "Art, animation, sound, music, and people playing together! Who could ask for more in a medium!" In 1998, Bunten passed away at the age of 49 due to lung cancer.

Bunten's legacy remained strong in the development community, particularly PC design circles, during and after her life. Just prior to her passing she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Computer Game Developers Association. Will Wright dedicated his 2000 hit The Sims to her.

The award will be presented at the annual D.I.C.E. summit on February 8. Legendary designer Sid Meier will accept the award on her behalf.