The 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA), the peer-awarded highest honors in video game development, have revealed the recipients of 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.
This year’s Pioneer Award will be given to Dave Theurer, one of Atari Inc.’s legendary arcade game designers from the 1980s. Theurer created classic titles such as Missile Command, Tempest, and I, Robot, which helped create modern game genres and define the early days of gaming.
The Ambassador Award will celebrate Ken Doroshow and Paul M. Smith, the First Amendment lawyers in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown, et al., v. Entertainment Merchants Association, et al., for their support and their fight for game developer rights.
Given away at Game Developers Conference every year as part of the Game Developers Choice Awards, the Pioneer Award celebrates 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 many developers who followed them.
This year’s honoree, Dave Theurer, began his trailblazing career in the video game world in 1980 with the release of Missile Command, a seminal trackball-based shooter that was a milestone in early computer games.
Following on from this in 1981, Theurer created the iconic, vector-based tube shooter release Tempest, the original psychedelic shooter, which inspired a slew of other innovations in arcade video games and was an early title to use 3D perspective in gameplay.
As his final title in the game industry before moving to a successful career in enterprise software, Theurer then designed cult, groundbreaking arcade title I, Robot. This 1983 arcade game, not commercially successful at the time, is legendary for being the first commercial video game with filled 3D polygon graphics, as well as being the first video game to feature camera control options — and was years or even decades ahead of its time.
“It’s very difficult to find a game developer who doesn’t have a single memory of Missile Command or his other classic, Tempest,” said Meggan Scavio, general manager of the Game Developers Conference. “We’re delighted to honor Dave Theurer for his work as a designer which resulted in shaping so many developers’ creative drive in the genre.”
Also being honored at the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards are the recipients of the Ambassador Award, which recognizes 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 advocates for video games to help further the art form.
This year, the Choice Awards Advisory Committee voted the First Amendment lawyers in the historic U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. EMA as recipients of the Ambassador Award. Ken Doroshow and Paul M. Smith led the legal team that convinced the Court that content-based restrictions on games are unconstitutional. The landmark ruling established First Amendment rights for those who create, develop, publish and sell video games, and is incredibly important to the past, present and future of video games as a creative medium.
Of the two honorees, Ken Doroshow is Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) in Washington, D.C. As the ESA’s General Counsel, Ken oversees all of the association’s legal matters, including litigation, business affairs, and intellectual property policy.
The lead external lawyer on the case was Paul M. Smith of Jenner & Block LLC, Chair of the Appellate and Supreme Court Practice and Co-Chair of the Media and First Amendment, and Election Law and Redistricting Practices at his firm. He has had an active Supreme Court practice for nearly three decades, including oral arguments in 14 Supreme Court cases involving matters ranging from free speech and civil rights to civil procedure.
“The dedication that both Doroshow and Smith brought to the Brown v. EMA case will forever make them heroes to anyone who understands the value of this industry,” added Scavio of the duo. “With their legal teams, these two lawyers advanced the games industry in such a way that developers’ livelihoods and intellectual properties are protected.”
The 12th Annual Choice Awards ceremony, produced in association with the Game Developers Conference (GDC) will take place on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm, at the San Francisco Moscone Center and is open to all Game Developers Conference attendees.
The Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony, hosted by Epic Games’ Cliff Bleszinski, is held immediately following the Independent Games Festival Awards. For the third year running, those not attending GDC can watch both sets of awards show live online via GameSpot.com, the official streaming media partner to the award ceremonies.
For more information about the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards, check out the official website, and for information about the 2012 Game Developers Conference, please visit the show’s official website.