For over a year, the Video Game History Foundation has been trying to track down the creator of Wabbit, an Atari 2600 game released in 1982 by Texas developer Apollo that has an interesting place in video game history: it's the first console game to star a female protagonist.Its creator, whose name was misremembered by former colleagues as a Vietnamese-American woman named "Ban Tran," hasn't ever spoken publicly about her work.
That seems to be because for years, no one knew her actual name or how to contact her. Thanks to some detective work from the VGHF, we now know who she is.Meet Van Mai (née Tran)—a refugee of the Vietnam War, computer programmer, and creator of what many historians regard as one of Apollo's finest games: Wabbit, in which a young girl defends her vegetable patch from an army of rabbits.Mai's story and the tale of how the VGHF tracked her down is a fascinating read, intersecting with the volatile '80s computing business and poor-record keeping from an era of bankrupt startups.
The Foundation was only able to uncover her identity by researching court cases tied to Apollo's bankruptcy. Mai, like many of her former colleagues, could only secure her final paycheck by going through the courts.
It was the last line of paperwork that connected her to her seminal creation. And today, she can share her story.The VGHF's breakdown of Wabbit and the company that created it highlights how individual employees at the company were responsible for creating its games, though they worked in teams to give feedback and collaborate on early principles of game design.Read more on gamedeveloper.com