SAN FRANCISCO – The 16th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards (www.gdconf.com), the peer-awarded highest honors in video game development, has revealed this year’s recipients of the Pioneer and Ambassador awards. The Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony will take place on Wednesday, March 16, at 6:30 pm at the Moscone Convention Center during the 2016 Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, and will be live-streamed on Twitch at http://www.twitch.tv/gdca.
The Pioneer Award, which honors breakthrough tech and game design milestones, will this year honor Markus “Notch” Persson, the famed creator of the 2011 GDCA and IGF Award-winning indie sandbox title, Minecraft. The Ambassador Award, honoring someone who is helping video games advance to a better place through advocacy or action, will be bestowed upon experimental game designer and educator Tracy Fullerton, in recognition of her work at the Game Innovation Lab, which has produced several influential independent games like fl0w and Darfur is Dying.
Pioneer Award recipient Markus “Notch” Persson is most widely known as the founder and former lead game designer at Mojang AB, the acclaimed developers behind the landmark title Minecraft, which blends exploration, survival, resource management and combat into an open-world title with literally endless content and avenues for creativity and ingenuity. In 2011, history was made when Minecraft became the first game to win in multiple categories at both the Game Developers Choice Awards and the IGF Awards within the same year. The game and its creators received top honors at the 2011 IGF Awards, winning both the Seumas McNally Grand Prize and Audience Award, and that same night were honored with the 2011 Choice Awards for Innovation, Best Downloadable Game and Best Debut. The title has sold a total of more than 70 million copies over console, PC, mobile and other platforms. Developer Mojang and the ownership of the Minecraft property were acquired by Microsoft in 2014 in a deal worth $2.5 billion.
As the associate professor and director of the University of Southern California (USC) Games program, Ambassador Award recipient Tracy Fullerton and her research center, the Game Innovation Lab, has played an instrumental role in the creation of influential independent games that include Cloud, fl0w, Darfur is Dying, the Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom and the Night Journey, with artist Bill Viola. At USC, Fullerton has drawn from her experience as a game designer at companies that include Microsoft, Sony, MTV and many others, to help guide aspiring developers. Her previous achievements include an Emmy nomination for interactive television, IndieCade’s “Sublime Experience,” “Impact,” and “Trailblazer” awards, Games for Change “Game Changer” award, and Time Magazine’s Best of the Web. As the author of the design textbook, “Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games,” Fullerton’s work in and out of the classroom has established her sterling reputation as an esteemed designer and teacher in the art and craft of game development.
This year, Ashly and Anthony Burch, the sibling team behind the “Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’?” video series, will return to contribute original videos to the IGF Awards ceremony. These will complement a series of new videos by Mega64, the video game sketch anarchists, who are also returning to make videos for the Game Developers Choice Awards this year.