The Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA) will be handing out accolades to Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Vlambeer founder Rami Ismail, and Double Fine Productions founder Tim Schafer. It’s the award show’s 18th year, and it will be held during the Game Developers Conference at 6:30 p.m. Pacific on March 21 at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center. The event will also be livestreamed for viewers to watch remotely.

Voters from the International Choice Awards Network (ICAN) and the GDC Advisory Committee are two factors that go into choosing award recipients. The committee includes industry veterans such as Valve’s Doug Lombardi and Guerrilla Games’s Angie Smets.

Bushnell is receiving the Pioneer Award for hitting game industry milestones. In the last 40 years, he founded iconic companies such as Atari and Chuck E. Cheese. Atari was synonymous with video games for titles like Pong as well as its home console system, and Chuck E. Cheese expanded the model for video arcades by combining them with family entertainment centers. In addition to those two companies, Bushnell has founded over 20 others as well.

Developer Ismail founded Vlambeer, an independent Dutch studio that’s released titles such as Ridiculous Fishing and Nuclear Throne. He’s receiving the Ambassador Award for his advocacy work. In addition to creating free tools for developers, such as the widely used Presskit template, Ismail consults with incubators and universities. He’s a fixture in the indie games community and at local events, and he works with developers in emerging markets such as Africa, the Middle East, South America, Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia.


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Schafer will be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work at LucasArts and Double Fine. He’s an industry vet with nearly 30 years of experience, and he directed, designed, and wrote classic adventure games such as LucasArt’s Day of the Tentacle and Double Fine’s Psychonauts. Since he founded Double Fine, the studio has developed over 30 titles. It’s also active in the indie game scene with its publishing arm Double Fine Presents and its yearly Day of the Devs festival.

Update 9:01 a.m., Pacific: GDC has rescinded Nolan Bushnell’s Pioneer Award.

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