Ambassador Award Archive

The Ambassador Award honors an individual or 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 and help further our art.



14th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2014)

Anita Sarkeesian

Anita Sarkeesian is a media critic and the creator of Feminist Frequency, a video webseries that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Her work focuses on deconstructing the stereotypes, patterns and tropes associated with women in popular culture as well as highlighting issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces.

Anita lectures and presents at universities, conferences and game development studios internationally. She has been interviewed and featured in publications such as The New York Times, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail and The Boston Globe. Her videos are freely available via the Feminist Frequency YouTube channel and widely serve as educational tools in high school and university classrooms.



13th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2013)

Chris MelissinosChris Melissinos

Ambassador Award recipient Chris Melissinos started his career at Sun Microsystems in 1994 and spent much of his 16-year tenure driving an industry-wide movement toward Java technology-based game development and building infrastructure programs for massively connected game play. Melissinos is well known in the industry for his role in cross-platform video game technology development, video game preservation and advocacy, virtual world applications, and lectures on the future of games and computer technology. Building upon his successful career in technology development and preservation, he is exploring new forms of game interactivity as a co-founder of


Melissinos' work as the creator and guest curator for the groundbreaking Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibition 'The Art of Video Games,' helped to cement the message of interactive entertainment as a form of modern culture. The 6,000 square foot installation presented four decades of evolution in the video game industry as an artistic means, earning the distinction of becoming one of the most successful exhibitions in the history of the museum, and saw more than half a million visitors during its initial six month exhibition. Melissinos' 'The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect,' co-written with Patrick O'Rourke, also serves as the exhibition catalog at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the exhibition will travel to ten additional museums in the United States through 2016.


"Chris' work on the Smithsonian's 'The Art of Video Games' exhibit is a testament to his commitment to the industry," added Scavio. "The success of the installation only confirms that his dedication to communicating the mission of the game development community to larger audiences is not only authentic, but extremely effective. We can think of nobody more deserving of this year's Ambassador Award."



12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2012)

Tim BrengleKen Doroshow and Paul M. Smith

Ken Doroshow and Paul M. Smith led the legal team which resulted in the Court ruling 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 was the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) in Washington, D.C. As the ESA's General Counsel, Ken oversaw 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.



11th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2011)

Tim BrengleTim Brengle and Ian MacKenzie

Brengle and MacKenzie oversee the GDC's Conference Associates program, which consists of hundreds of volunteers—selected from more than 1,600 applicants from around the world—who staff the GDC each year and help with many aspects of the conference.

Tim Brengle lives games. From video games to live-action role-playing, he plays, organizes, programs, and designsthem. For Christmas 1999, he and partner Ian MacKenzie shipped a top-ten best selling PC game. Tim has attended every CGDC/GDC. As a former Director, he created the Conference Associates (CA) volunteers in 1989 and still directs/co-manages them. Tim's focus: foster an atmosphere of excellence among the CAs, encouraging each to perform at the highest level, serving others enthusiastically.

As a divisional manager, Ian MacKenzie specialized in software as an engineering discipline. He delivered every project on time, on budget, and with zero bug reports for six years. Next, founding a company with Tim Brengle, they did 11 SKUs their first year including the 3rd best selling PC entertainment title that Christmas. Ian loves his 21 years serving the CAs at GDC and spending time with his wife and their little boy.



10th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2010)

Ambassador AwardJerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik, and Robert Khoo

Holkins, Krahulik and Khoo received their award for their genuine, gamer-friendly empire they've built over the past decade, lovingly skewering video game culture and developers while building up a following, events and an industry-leading video game charity that help epitomize the positive elements of 'gamer spirit'.


Penny Arcade itself was began in 1998 when high school friends and life-long gamers Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik began to pen the webcomic, which featured two semi-autobiographical gamers who joked, argued and swooned over all things video gaming. The website soon grew in popularity as gamers spread their favorite comic strips to friends, and the comic garnered a loyal following of like-minded game fans. After years of financial difficulties, the comic duo met Robert Khoo, who quickly became the team's business manager, and helped to create a burgeoning empire centered around the comic, which now includes the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), a huge bi-annual gathering of gamers that hosts tabletop, console and PC games while celebrating gaming culture.


As well as drawing over 100,000 game-positive geeks to the events in Seattle, Washington and now Boston, Mass. every year, the team created the Child's Play charity in 2003, leveraging their large fanbase to help support children's hospitals with games, toys and money. In 2009 alone, the charity raised $1.78 million dollars in donations from gamers and a host of game development and publishing studios. For these community and philanthropic successes, the Penny Arcade team is jointly receiving the Ambassador Award.



9th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2009)

Tommy TallaricoTommy Tallarico

Tommy is the founder of the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.), which is a non-profit organization formed in 2002, and tasked with educating on interactive audio by providing information, instruction, resources, guidance and enlightenment not only to its members, but to content providers and listeners throughout the world.

In addition, Tallarico, who has created music for games over the past 18 years, from Earthworm Jim through Sonic & The Black Knight, co-founded Video Games Live, a public concert series started in 2005 which features music from notable video games performed by top orchestras and choirs around the world. The concert show has been performed worldwide to hundreds of thousands of people, from the Hollywood Bowl to major venues in Europe, Asia and South America, and continues to raise the profile of game music as an art form in its own right.



8th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2008)

Jason Della RoccaJason Della Rocca

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.