SAN FRANCISCO-Feb. 12, 2007-The Game Developers Choice Awards Advisory Board has named the 2007 special award recipients: Alexey Pajitnov, creator of Tetris, will receive the First Penguin Award for pioneering the casual games market; adventure game hall-of-famer Greg Costikyan will receive the Maverick Award for his tireless efforts to create a viable channel for indie games; game audio legend George "The Fatman" Sanger will receive the Community Contribution Award for his numerous programs that encourage interactive audio innovation and industry improvement; and Nintendo game design icon Shigeru Miyamoto will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for a career that spans the creation of Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda to the company's recent revolutionary systems, Nintendo DS and Wii.
The Game Developers Choice Award ceremony, hosted by Tim Schafer of Double Fine Productions, will take place during CMP Technology's Game Developers Conference (GDC) on Wednesday, March 7 at 6:30p.m. within the Esplanade Ballroom of the Moscone Center's South Hall. The ceremony is produced by the GDC and presented by the International Game Developers Association (IGDA).
First Penguin Award
The First Penguin Award acknowledges developers who dive head first into unknown territory and pave the way for the rest of the development community. This year's award will go to Alexey Pajitnov, whose creation of the now-legendary game, Tetris, gave birth to the casual game industry and set the bar which every puzzle game to follow would aim to match.
In 1985, while working for the Computer Center of the Moscow Academy of Science, a Soviet government-funded R&D center, Pajitnov developed "a charmingly simple and utterly addictive computer game" as an exercise to test a new computer, the Electronica. He based his game on a popular puzzle called The Pentamino Puzzle whose objective was to fit different geometric-shaped pieces into a box. The game, Tetris, soon came out of the Soviet Union and into worldwide circulation with a historic 1989 licensing agreement that paired the game with the Nintendo Game Boy. Pajitnov has also produced games including Faces, Welltris, Knight Moves, and Hatris. Since then, Pajitnov has helped produce several sequels to Tetris, including Tetris 2 and Super Tetris. He also helped design the puzzles in the Super NES versions of Yoshi's Cookie and designed the game Pandora's Box, which incorporates more traditional jig-saw style puzzles. Now a resident of Washington State, Pajitnov joined Microsoft in 1996 as the computer technology giant's first staff games designer. He has worked for the Microsoft Entertainment Collection Puzzle Pack and MSN Mind Aerobics. Since 2004, he has been part of the Microsoft Zone Group to create games for MSN.
Community Contribution Award
The Community Contribution Award is presented to a developer who embodies the spirit of community and encourages improvement among peers. George "The Fat Man" Sanger, music and sound designer for more than 250 games, including LOOM, Wing Commander, The 7th Guest, NASCAR Racing, Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo and ATF, will receive this year's award for his development of programs that enrich and encourage advancements within the interactive audio community and industry in general.
Sanger has been creating music and other audio for games since Thin Ice for Intellivision in 1983. In 1991, at the first Spotlight Awards, the Audio award went to Sanger's Wing Commander, and one of the only other two nominees was Sanger's LOOM. At various developer conferences, Sanger has hosted "Demo Marathons" to allow game producers to be exposed to the music of many musicians from all over the world in a single sitting. His writings in his Music and Computers Magazine column, "Ride the Wired Surf," were meant to promote ideals and attitudes that would lead to better music on computers. On the edge of the Canyon of the Eagles over the Colorado River, Sanger hosts both the annual Texas Interactive Music Conference and BBQ (Project Bar-B-Q), the computer/music industry's most prestigious and influential conference. Based on 11 successful years of influencing and galvanizing the audio and technical community at BBQ, in 2006 Sanger hosted the first Project Horseshoe, an intense think-tank aimed at solving game design's toughest problems. Sanger's book, "The Fat Man on Game Audio: Tasty Morsels of Sonic Goodness," is less a technical work than a treatise on the benefits of living creatively and treating people well.
The Maverick Award recognizes those who take risks by experimenting with unconventional methods. The recipient of this year's award is Greg Costikyan, whose online retailer Manifesto Games is dedicated to creating an opportunity and creative environment for independent games similar to what the independent film and music movements have provided for those forms.
Costikyan has designed more than 30 commercially published board, role-playing, online, computer, and mobile games. He has written extensively on games, design, and industry business for publications that include the New York Times, Wall Street Journal Interactive, Salon, Game Developer magazine and The Escapist. His games have won five Origins Awards and a Gamer's Choice Award, and have been selected on more than a dozen occasions for Games Magazine's Games 100, their annual round-up of the best games in print. He is an inductee into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame for a lifetime of accomplishment, and has lectured at the Copenhagen ITU, the University of Art & Design Helsinki, and SUNY/Stony Brook and he speaks frequently at industry conferences including GDC, E3, and DiGRA. Over the years, he has also served as Director of R&D for West End Games, lead designer for Crossover Technologies, Chief Design Officer for Unplugged Games (a mobile games start-up he co-founded in 2000), a game industry consultant, and a games researcher for Nokia. Costikyan left Nokia in 2005 to co-found Manifesto Games with Johnny Wilson, which launched in late September of 2006. Manifesto Games is an ecommerce retailer of independently developed games, based on long-tail theory. Manifesto Games is a self-described wild-eyed, radical and utopian attempt to transform the game industry by recapturing the creative vigor, willingness to experiment, and exciting potential of its youth.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Nintendo game design icon Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto joined Nintendo in 1977 as a staff artist and quickly built a reputation for himself. In 1981, Nintendo released Miyamoto's creation Donkey Kong to arcades, launching what would come to be known as his first masterpiece. In 1985, Nintendo released their Nintendo Entertainment System with Miyamoto's Super Mario Bros; over time, more than 40 million units of the game were sold worldwide, and a series of mega-hit titles was born, including the 1996 Nintendo 64 best seller, Super Mario 64. More than 193 million video games in the Super Mario series have been sold worldwide. To date, Miyamoto has worked on more than 100 different Nintendo video game titles, supporting younger video game creators as a producer for Kirby and Pokémon games. Miyamoto's most recent video game projects include Wii Sports, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Nintendogs, Super Mario Galaxy and design work on the Wii hardware. He also was responsible for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Metroid Prime, Super Mario Sunshine, Pikmin, Luigi's Mansion and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which has been called the greatest video game of all time.
Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award are selected by the Choice Awards Advisory Board, comprised of a diverse set of developers from around the globe. Past recipients of this award include Richard Garriott, Eugene Jarvis, Mark Cerny, Gunpei Yokoi (posthumously), Yuji Naka and Will Wright.
"This year's recipients of the Game Developers Choice Award special honors reflect the dramatic impact of their visionary creations and industry work," said Jamil Moledina, Executive Director of the Game Developers Conference. "Our four honorees are each responsible for inspiring the industry to creative heights through personal example and challenging conventional wisdom."
"The IGDA applauds our special honorees. These awards are only a small token of the industry's enormous appreciation for what they have done for us," said Jason Della Rocca, Executive Director of the IGDA.
The seventh annual Game Developers Choice Awards will also hand out honors for Best Game, Audio, Character Design, Game Design, Technology, Visual Arts, Writing and Innovation. For more information about the ceremony or award nominees, please visit www.gamechoiceawards.com.
About the International Game Developers Association (IGDA)
The International Game Developers Association is a non-profit professional society that is committed to advancing the careers and enhancing the lives of game developers by connecting members with their peers, promoting professional development, and advocating on issues that affect the developer community. For more information on the IGDA, please visit www.igda.org.
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