Carol Shaw, First Woman Video Game Designer
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Carol Shaw, First Woman Video Game Designer

Carol Shaw with some of her awards

Carol was born in Palo Alto, California in 1955, her father was a mechanical engineer. During her childhood, she had no interest in dolls and typical toys for girls at that time, Carol preferred to play with her brothers and the model railway that they had. Carol was always good at math, but became interested in computer science until College, a field of study where there were very few women in the seventies.

After getting two degrees, Carol got a job at Atari, where she programmed some games for the new VCS console, she didn’t know it at the time, but that’s where she became one of the first professional women to design video games.

Award to River Raid for more than one million sells

Carol had a short but fruitful career in videogames (1978-1984), after working for Atari, she moved to Activision, another of the great companies of the moment. During her time at Activision, Carol developed the game “River Raid”, a title universally known as a masterpiece.

Despite her success in video games and as the industry suffered a downturn, in 1984 Carol stopped working at Activision and started working at Tandem, where she worked to improve the reliability of computers for airline reservation management. or the New York Stock Exchange, for example.

The income from the success of “River Raid” along with her investments and her husband, Ralph Merkle having achieved a better position, allowed her to retire at 35 years old.

GameSpot(March 8th 2018) Carol Shaw: A Look At Video Games’ First Female Developer | #InternationalWomensDay


Edwards, Benj (October 12th, 2011) VC&G Interview: Carol Shaw, Atari’s First Female Video Game Developer. Retrieved on August 27th 2020 from:

Guezuraga, Ziortza (May 21rst, 2019) De Polo game a River Raid. Carol Shaw, primera diseñadora de videojuegos de ordenador. Retrieved on August 27th 2020 from: