Bradshaw credits her “playful childhood” in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her career choice. “Play is a transformative experience, and by immersing yourself in something it gives you a tangible, personal relationship with it that can transcend the mechanics themselves,” she has said.
After earning her B.A. in psychology at the University of Michigan, she moved to Silicon Valley and found her niche in electronic game production. At LucasArts and then Activision, Bradshaw used her celebrated people skills to shepherd through titles including Rebel Assault, Secret of Monkey Island 2 and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. She joined Electronic Arts in 1997 after the publisher acquired Maxis, the label behind her favorite play-all-night game, SimCity. She oversaw the development of hits such as The Sims, SimCity 4, and the award-winning Spore, and in 2011 she was promoted to general manager.
Bradshaw, who is active in organizations such as Games for Change and Women in Games International, is also adamant about breaking up the boys club of game development. “I want to see more women coming into this business,” she has said. “I look at it as a business imperative.”