Dani Bunten Berry (born Daniel Paul Bunten) was an American computer game designer and programmer, best known for pioneering multiplayer games. Following gender reassignment surgery, her legal name was changed to Danielle Paula Berry (though she also went by Dani Bunten Berry).
Bunten was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1949. Her large family later moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where Bunten lived for most of her life. She attended the University of Arkansas and graduated in 1974 with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering. Bunten grew interested in creating computer games and in 1978, published a business simulation game called Wheeler Dealers. Though that game sold only 50 copies, Bunten realized the social potential of multiplayer games. Bunten co-founded Ozark Softscape a year later, along with brother Bill Bunten, and friends James Rushing and Alan Watson. Ozark operated from the basement of Bunten’s Little Rock home, collaborating with larger distribution companies such as Strategic Simulations and Electronic Arts.
In 1983, Ozark released M.U.L.E., a multiplayer strategy game which required users to both compete against and cooperate with one another to colonize a planet. Reviewers lauded M.U.L.E., which sold 30,000 copies across various computer platforms. Ozark’s next game, Seven Cities of Gold (1984), designated players as explorers for the Spanish Empire in the 15th century. In all, Ozark designed five celebrated PC games for Electronic Arts. The original partnership of Ozark Softscape disbanded in 1993.
Bunten made the decision to undergo gender reassignment surgery in 1992, a transition to which she referred as her “pronoun change.” She lived the remainder of her life as Danielle Paula Berry, or Dani Bunten Berry. Bunten Berry continued to consult for game companies and soon reincorporated Ozark Softscape. In 1998, the Computer Game Developers Association conferred upon her their Lifetime Achievement Award. She passed away later that year from lung cancer at the age of 49. Numerous others have honored Bunten Berry, including Will Wright, who dedicated The Sims to her memory. The Academy of Arts and Sciences inducted Bunten Berry into their Hall of Fame in 2007.