Arcade Machines with a Woman's Touch

While the arcade machine industry was largely dominated by men in its beginnings, one woman made history in 1980 by introducing Centipede arcade machines into the market. Dona Bailey a former game programmer, and the only woman in Atari's coin-op division, added the perfect touch of creativity that attracted a female consumer base.

What makes the game of Centipede so appealing is its addicting quality. In our modern era of technology, we may look at the graphics and underestimate how challenging the game is. You start off thinking "yeah I got this", but don't let the imagery fool you. Time and time again you find yourself in this trance striving to shoot that centipede, while at the same time avoiding him and all of the other critters before they kill you. Oh, and if you happen to shoot the centipede in the wrong area, you will have to pay the price by having pieces of him come for you in two or three directions.

The game goes from being relatively easy to more intensifying with each level that you beat. Out of nowhere the centipede is charging at you at high bursts of speed you never knew he had, and shooting at him becomes more of a task. Then you still have to worry about his little buddies coming after you, which makes it even more of a challenge. It's one of those games that pulls you in and constantly gnaw at you, until you have had the chance to conquer it.

It was a smart move on Atari's part to let Dona join their team because she added input from a woman's perspective, and this proved successful in attracting a more diverse consumer base. Today, Dona teaches game design at the University of Little Rock Arkansas, and she was one of the key note speakers for the Women in Games International Conference. Decades after the creation of Centipede arcade machines she continues to inspire women with a love for video game programming and design.