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Dan Bunten (Dani Bunten Berry) papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2013.bunten
The Dan Bunten (Dani Bunten Berry) papers contain materials from 1949 through 2012, with the bulk of the documents from 1983 to 1995. This collection comprises personal and business correspondence, game design concepts, corporate agreements, notes, sketches, publicity, photographs, computer code, and other materials created by or pertaining to Dan Bunten (later known as Dani Bunten Berry or Danielle Paula Berry). The papers document both Bunten’s personal and professional life, along with the history of Ozark Softscape, Inc., and several of Bunten’s well-known computer games. Additional scope and content information is listed under the “Contents List” section of this finding aid.

The Dan Bunten (Dani Bunten Berry) papers are arranged into four series, two of which are further divided into subseries. The physical materials are housed in four archival document boxes, and the digital materials are stored on the internal network of The Strong.


  • 1949 - 2012
  • Majority of material found within 1983 - 1995


Conditions Governing Access

All materials relating to game sequel concept ideas for M.U.L.E. and Seven Cities of Gold have been restricted by the donor. These documents will not be open for research use until the year 2060. They are denoted as such in this finding aid and are separated from unrestricted files.

At this time, digital files in this collection are limited to on-site researchers only.

Please see The Strong's Digital Games Files Access Policy here .

Conditions Governing Use

The majority of this collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donors have not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, they have given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


1.75 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

1.82 Gigabytes (Digital files) : Accessible on-site at The Strong.


The Dan Bunten (Dani Bunten Berry) papers are a compilation of correspondence, notes, game design concepts, game code output, photographs, publicity, and digital material created by or pertaining to Dan Bunten (later known as Dani Bunten Berry or Danielle Paula Berry). The bulk of the materials are from between 1983 and 1995.

Biographical Note

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.

System of Arrangement

Series I: Personal papers, c. 1950-2012

Series II: Ozark Softscape, Inc. materials, 1979-1996

Subseries A: Contracts and agreements
Subseries B: Other company documentation
Subseries C: Computer program codes

Series III: Game design information, 1982-1997

Subseries A: Unrestricted files
Subseries B: Restricted files

Series IV: Digital materials

Custodial History

The Dan Bunten (Dani Bunten Berry) papers were donated to The Strong as a gift of the children of Dan Bunten and accessioned by The Strong under Object ID numbers 110.11705 and 110.12402. The papers were received from Melanie Bunten Stark in September 2010 and October 2010. Staff at The Strong photocopied and scanned many of these documents, then returned the originals to Melanie Bunten Stark.

Processed by

Tara Winner completed an initial inventory of this collection in November 2010. James Leach created a draft finding aid and tentative arrangement in February 2011. Revised processing and finding aid were done by Julia Novakovic in September 2013.


Finding Aid to the Dan Bunten (Dani Bunten Berry) Papers
Julia Novakovic
18 September 2013
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)