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GDC backtracks on Bushnell award; Bushnell approves

"If my personal actions... offended or caused pain to anyone at our companies, then I apologize without reservation," says Atari founder

The Game Developers Choice Awards have rescinded their Pioneer Award for Nolan Bushnell, and Bushnell has applauded the move.

The organizers of the GDC Awards yesterday announced they would be honouring the founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese at this year's event. The announcement drew quick and sharp criticism from people who felt it in poor taste given the current political climate to honour a man with a reported history of sexist behavior, including pressuring women to join him in a hot tub during a company meeting and making inappropriate comments about women who worked for him.

Organizers said they were unaware of the reports of Bushnell's prior behavior, and would re-examine the decision to honour him. This morning, they released a statement backtracking on the award.

"The Game Developers Choice Awards Advisory Committee, who vote on the Special Award winners for each show, have made the decision not to give out a Pioneer Award for this year's event, following additional feedback from the community," a statement posted to the official GDC Twitter read. "They believe their picks should reflect the values of today's game industry and will dedicate this year's award to honor the pioneering and unheard voices of the past."

Hours after the GDC posted is statement, Bushnell released one of his own.

"I applaud the GDC for ensuring that their institution reflects what is right, specifically with regards to how people should be treated in the workplace," Bushnell said. "And if that means an award is the price I have to pay personally so the whole industry may be more aware and sensitive to these issues, I applaud that, too. If my personal actions or the actions of anyone who ever worked with me offended or caused pain to anyone at our companies, then I apologize without reservation."

The Game Developers Choice Awards will be held on Wednesday, March 21st alongside the conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It will be hosted by Funomena founder and industry veteran Robin Hunicke. Other special award winners to be recognized at the event include Double Fine founder Tim Schafer, who will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Vlambeer's Rami Ismail, who will receive the Ambassador Award.

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Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.