Jusqu'à today, a female video game pioneer was lost to history

Jusqu'à today, a female video game pioneer was lost to history ...

Kate Willaert and Kevin Bunch, a video game historian, have been searching for Van Mai for years. Theyve sent letters across Texas, where Mai worked for Apollo, and searched the internet and various records. And now they have discovered her.

The Mais name was not exactly remembered, as it turns out, the historians thought they were looking for a Vietnamese woman named Ban Tran. When the Discord channel became dedicated to finding Mai, a group of collaborators discovered that the Wabbit developer they were looking for is actually Van Tran, who now goes by her married name, Van Mai. When Apollo went bankrupt in the 1980s, there were records of former employees filing with the court to receive their royalty checks. Mai was also one of those people.

Due to her involvement in Wabbit, the first video game for home consoles with a human female protagonist, Willaert and Bunch had sought for Mai. Wabbit was released in 1982, and features a character called Billie Sue, a young girl who protects her carrot crops from rabbits.

I''m not certain what happens because the video game industry has been male-dominated since its first launch, but that doesn''t mean that no women have developed games, and I think it''s important to push back against this narrative by recognizing those women who have actually been there from early on.

Mai presented her story to Bunch and Willaert, which may be seen on the video version of the story here. At the end of the Vietnam War, she eventually learned computer programming and was hired at Apollo after seeing an advertisement for the job. It took four to six months to complete, but Apollo filed for bankruptcy shortly after the release.

It''s huge that the world knows her story right now; as Polygon wrote in 2021, the gaming industry had a particularly tough time preserving its own history even with modern games. Equally important is that understanding women''s impact on early game history.

When the Genesis era games were typically marketed to the whole family, women were not prohibited from learning to program, according to Willaert. The same reason for women being discouraged from learning to program is a whole other story. Despite the fact that women are defying the boundaries of learning to program, it is important to also demonstrate that women are unlikely to be biologically capable of doing these things if given the opportunity.

Mai was a huge relief, according to Willaert; for a while, the police thought she would have died. Several individuals had discovered a news article about a Ban Tran who was brutally murdered in the mid 80s, she said. If we could just see it, it was certain that they would have died.

Willaert continued: The Van Tran breakthrough was such a major shift my in my reality. Even when Kevin told me he heard back from her, it almost didnt appear real!

Mai went on to work with former colleagues at MicroGraphic Image, according to Willaert and Bunch. After several months working on an Atari 5200 port of Solar Fox, she quit the video game industry, making for a brief but rewarding career.

There''s a guy in Van Mais case who non-sponsored video games, but created a game specifically for young girls, according to Bunch. And it''s great, which you can''t say about the majority of Apollos output!