Mavis Beacon, the typing software tutor whose beaming but strict oversight was the scourge of many sixth-graders' "free" period in the computer room, was not actually a real person, but rather emblematic of an age where the anthromorphization of programs was believed to better engage users with them.
VICE has a piece on anthropomorphic software that includes a history of the fictional Mavis Beacon, who was modeled on a woman who worked at the Saks Fifth Avenue perfume counter:
Abrams described Renee L'Esperance as a "stunning Haitian woman," with "three-inch fingernails." Crane instantly wanted to put her face on the box for his typing software. They got to talking, and despite the concerns Abrams voiced ("She's never been near a keyboard!"), they soon made a deal. Abrams told us they paid D'esprance a flat fee, bought her a conservative outfit that befitted a typist, and rented a business square in Century City on a Sunday, in order to take the cover photo. As for her long fingernails, Crane said "Don't worry. We won't show her hands," according to Abrams.
The article is an interesting look back on how software gets personified, and how the subjects of those personas often end up returning to "a quiet life back in the Caribbean."
Do you like fun typing games? So do I. Try Secret of Qwerty, or Monologue.
The Offworld Collection, presenting the very best features and essays from Offworld, is finally available to buy directly from Campo Santo for $40. I had the pleasure of designing and illustrating this splendid 250-page hardcover volume, but it’s the excellent writing, edited by Leigh Alexander and Laura Hudson, that makes it an essential buy. You […]
Zoya Street, curator of Critical Distance, offers slow reflections on the fast-paced world of digital play…
This week, our partnership with Critical Distance brings us reading on parenting via Tomb Raider, the utility of the word ‘gameplay’, and experiences from Nintendo ‘play counselors’ from the 1980s and 90s.
When revved-up kids used to dribble a basketball through the kitchen or practice their footwork with a soccer ball in front of the television, exasperated parents would often just send ‘em outside to play. But these days, sending kids out might not be the best course of action. Despite all the changes, many budding young […]
When you sit down to play a new AAA video game like The Last of Us 2, you probably assume it was created by gaming experts with insane levels of artistic and technical talent. And…you’d be right. Top developers are craftsmen of the highest order, pouring literally thousands of man-hours into creating the greatest gaming […]
Earlier this year, we learned that Python had finally accomplished a feat other programming languages had failed for decades, to surpass Java as the second most-used coding language in the world. For its versatility and ease of use alone, its ascent among programmers isn’t hugely surprising. Then when you factor in its key role in […]