GDC Announces It Will Not Award Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell After Controversy [Update]

GDC Announces It Will Not Award Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell After Controversy [Update]

Bushnell has been criticized for his history of sexually inappropriate behavior.

Update: In a public statement on Twitter, Bushnell backed the GDC decision and issued an apology.

"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," said Bushnell on Twitter. "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."

Original Story: The Game Developers Choice Awards will not be handing out one of its special awards, the Pioneer Award, at this year's event. Atari founder Nolan Bushnell was originally announced as the award recipient but announcement of his win was followed by a social media backlash under the hashtag "#NotNolan" after reports came out of a fraternity-like culture at Atari.

"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," announced the Official GDC account on Twitter today. "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."

Soon after Bushnell was announced as this year's recipient of the Pioneer Award, game developers started sharing old interviews, profiles, and sections from biographies that paint a history of inappropriate behavior towards women. Developer and US House of Representatives candidate Brianna Wu highlighted that in the year of the #MeToo movement, Bushnell's award is "wildly inappropriate."

The Pioneer Award is one of the Special Awards handed out at the GDC Awards. In particular, the award "celebrates those individuals who developed a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture in video game history - paving the way for the myriads who followed them."

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Matt Kim

News Editor

Matt Kim is a former freelance writer who's covered video games and digital media. He likes video games as spectacle and is easily distracted by bright lights or clever bits of dialogue. He also once wrote about personal finance, but that's neither here nor there.

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