The 13 th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA), the peer-awarded highest honors in video game development, have revealed the recipients of the remaining two of its Special Awards the Pioneer Award, given to developers for creating breakthrough video game genres or concepts, and the Ambassador Award, given to those who have helped the game industry advance to a better place.
The Pioneer Award will be given to Steve Russell for his creation of the legendary game Spacewar!, one of the earliest functioning titles anda vital precursor of early computer games of the '70s and onwards.
The Ambassador Award will be given to Chris Melissinos for his work curating "The Art of Video Games," an exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2012. The exhibit explored the 40-year evolution of video games showcased as an artistic medium.
The third special award, for Lifetime Achievement, has been previously announced as going to BioWare founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk.
In 1962, Steve "Slug" Russell, a computer programmer working for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), invented Spacewar!, the first popular and earliest known digital computer game. Throughout the years, Russell's iconic computer game generated multiple imitations including Asteroids, a popular and now classic arcade title.
Russell produced the concept and first version of Spacewar! in 200 hours with a team of four people. He wrote Spacewar! on a Programmed Data Processor-1 (PDP-1), an early Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) minicomputer that allowed two users to share the computer simultaneously. Russell's work on this seminal game and use of the original PDP-1 computer influenced technological advances and gave rise to the cultural phenomenon of video games; Spacewar! created a model for game development, establishing shooting as a core game mechanic, and inspired space and science fiction themes for future games.
"More than 50 years ago Steve blew the world's minds with Spacewar! and the game's influence is pervasive throughout the industry, from cornerstone arcade titlesto the team-based model of game development," said Meggan Scavio, general manager of the Game Developers Conference. "We are very proud to honor Steve with the Pioneer award for paving the way for so many developers when gaming was only in its infancy."
Ambassador Award recipient Chris Melissinos started his career at Sun Microsystems in 1994 and spent much of his 16-year tenure driving an industry-wide movement toward Java technology-based game development and building infrastructure programs for massively connected game play. Melissinos is well known in the industry for his role in cross-platform video game technology development, video game preservation and advocacy, virtual world applications, and lectures on the future of games and computer technology. Building upon his successful career intechnology development and preservation, he is exploring new forms of game interactivity as a co-founder ofgopop.tv (http://www.gopop.tv).