At the CMP 2008 Game Developers Choice Awards during GDC, electronic engineer Ralph Baer, known to many as the "Father of Video Games" for inventing the first home video game system, commercialized as the Magnavox Odyssey game system, will receive the Pioneer Award; and Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), a professional society committed to advancing the careers and enhancing the lives of game developers, will receive the Ambassador Award.
Presented by CMP's Game Developers Conference and Webby-award winning Gamasutra.com, this year's awards ceremony, held in conjunction with the Independent Games Festival, will be hosted today, Wednesday, February 20, during GDC 2008 in the Esplanade Room in the South Hall of San Francisco's Moscone Center.
The Pioneer Award celebrates those individuals responsible for developing a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture in video game history, paving the way for the myriad developers who followed them. Ralph Baer, best known as the "Father of Video Games," holds the pioneer patents covering both the method and apparatus of video games. His work in the sixties resulted in the Magnavox Odyssey game system, which was the first commercial home video game. His early video game hardware already resides in such places as the Smithsonian and the Japanese National Science Museum, and replicas are on display all over the world.
"Ralph Baer invented video games. In the inaugural year of the Pioneer Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards, it felt natural to bestow that award on the man who established our entire industry," says Jamil Moledina, executive director of the Game Developers Conference. "Ralph is an inspiration to all who attend our conference, and we are proud to host this opportunity for our attendees to recognize and thank the creator of their vocation and art form."
The Ambassador Award honors an individual or group of individuals who have helped the game industry advance to a better place, either through facilitating a better game community from within, or by reaching outside the industry to be an advocate for video games to help further the art. Jason Della Rocca's focus as executive director of the IGDA on connecting developers with their peers, promoting professional development and advocating on issues such as quality of life, creative freedoms, workforce diversity and credit standards are qualities for which the Choice Awards Advisory Committee are naming him this year's recipient. Della Rocca is receiving the first-ever Ambassador Award.