Lifetime Achievement Archive

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the career and achievements of a developer who has made an indelible impact on the craft of game development and games as a whole.


14th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2014)

Ken Kutaragi



13th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2013)

Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk

Co-founders of the award-winning BioWare studio Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk are known throughout the game development community as the 'BioWare Doctors,' as they met while in medical school at the University of Alberta where they learned they shared a passion for video game development.

They each continued to moonlight as doctors during the early years of BioWare but then transitioned to the video game industry full time as they and their passionate teams at BioWare went on to create some of the industry's most influential, highly praised and critically acclaimed role-playing games such as Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Dragon Age and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The release of Baldur's Gate put BioWare on the game development map and Neverwinter Nights, the third person role-playing game set in a fantasy world, further propelled the studio's success; Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic solidified BioWare's reputation as an RPG powerhouse, winning multiple GDCAs in 2004 including top honors for Best Game. That same year, The Doctors were co-recipients of the IGDA Ambassador Award for their contributions to the game development community and charities at large.

After the acquisition by Electronic Arts in 2008, the Doctors successfully led BioWare in developing two award-winning original IPs - the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. The Mass Effect games, a series of emotionally engaging science fiction action role-playing shooters, have received more than 380 industry awards and counting. Like the Mass Effect series, the Dragon Age games – with more than 80 "Best Of" awards so far - are known for some of the industry's greatest narrative, expansive worlds, deep character development, romances, voice acting and visual arts.

In 2011, BioWare launched Star Wars: The Old Republic, which was its first massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) and the studio's biggest endeavor to date. The game has won more than 115 awards, including Best New Online Game at the 2012 Game Developers Choice Online Awards. In September 2012, the Doctors announced their retirement from games to pursue other passions: Muzyka's next chapter will involve mentoring and investing in technology, new media, medical innovation and social entrepreneurs, and impact investing at his new company, Threshold Impact, while Zeschuk recently debuted a new web-based documentary-interview series and website, "The Beer Diaries," which will showcase craft breweries around the world.



12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2012)

Warren Spector

With a career in games spanning nearly 30 years, Warren Spector has earned a reputation in the industry as a seminal designer and a champion for the proper execution of ideas in video games. His work on the career-defining Deus Ex took place while he was serving as a partner at development company Ion Storm and running their Austin-based office. Upon its release in 2000, Deus Ex received wide critical and industry acclaim and in 2009 was named "Best PC Game of All Time" among a list of 100 other titles in PC Gamer magazine.


In 2004 Spector left Ion Storm and the following year established Austin-based video game development firm Junction Point. Junction Point was acquired by Disney Interactive Studios in 2007. Immediately following, Spector began leading the design of Disney Epic Mickey, which released in 2010 and marked his first title as part of Disney Interactive Studios. The game featured Spector's hallmark style of choice and consequence gaming, which he refers to as "Playstyle Matters," and was praised for its unique storyline, charming art design and tribute it paid to 80 years of rich Disney history.


Since beginning his gaming career at Steve Jackson Games in 1983, Spector has played a key role when it comes to redefining genres. As a producer and designer on titles like TSR, Inc.'s Top Secret/S.I. and Marvel Super Heroes, ORIGIN's award-winning Ultima game series, including Ultima Worlds of Adventure: Martian Dreams, Ultima VII: Serpent Isle and Ultima Underworld, as well as Looking Glass Technologies' critically-acclaimed System Shock, Spector demonstrated his ability to open up new avenues in the role-playing arena and provide players with a fresh gameplay experience.



11th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2011)

Peter MolyneuxPeter Molyneux

Peter Molyneux is one of the best-known names in the international world of computer games. He co-founded Bullfrog Productions in 1987 and created a new genre of computer games, the god game with the release of Populous. Since then Peter has been responsible for a string of massive selling games including Powermonger, Theme Park, Magic Carpet and Dungeon Keeper. Cumulative sales of these Bullfrog games are around ten million worldwide.


In 1997 Peter left Bullfrog Productions to form a new games development company Lionhead Studios. The company has released five games Black & White in 2001, Fable in 2004 Black & White 2 (PC), The Movies (PC) and Fable the Lost Chapters (PC and Xbox) in 2005. Cumulative sales are approaching the 5 million mark. Lionhead now numbers over 135 employees. In April 2006 Lionhead Studios was sold to Microsoft Corp, Peter is recognised as one of the computer games industrys most articulate and eloquent speakers on the subject of the development of computer games. He has been awarded four honorary doctorates and was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame. Peter was also awarded an OBE in the 2005 New Years Honours List for services to the computer video games industry.


In 2007 the French government recognized his services to the game industry with the Chevalier de lOrdre des Arts et des Lettres (The Knighthood in the Order of Arts and Letters). Lionheads latest game Fable II was released to rave reviews in October 2008; sales are currently approaching the 3 million mark. Fable III shipped in October and shot straight to the top of the UK Sales charts. Peter was appointed as Creative Director MGS Europe in 2009.



10th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2010)

John CarmackJohn Carmack

The technological patriarch and co-founder of id Software, John Carmack is responsible for some of the most compelling and successful PC game titles of all time.  Largely self-taught, Carmack cranks out the most in-demand and technically mind-boggling 3D graphics engines in existence.   These engines, which are licensed by leading game development companies, are found at the heart of all id Software titles – from the revolutionary Wolfenstein 3D and blockbuster DOOM to the successful QUAKE and Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars.  New titles currently in development include the web-based QUAKE LIVE  and the highly anticipated, RAGE, a new take on first person action gaming, and the first game being developed using Carmack’s idTech 5 engine.  


With the creation of id Mobile, Carmack has also tapped into cutting-edge games for the cell phone and handheld platforms, including the award-winning Orcs & Elves, DOOM RPG and Wolfenstein RPG


A “technology purist,” Carmack’s devotion to pushing the limits of hardware and software to their bleeding edge and beyond fuels id Software’s development team to create games that exceed even their wildest expectations.  Almost single handedly responsible for the advent of the first-person adventure/shooter genre of gaming, Carmack and the id Software team have proven themselves to be ahead of the curve in almost every respect.  With some of the best selling and most innovative gaming titles in existence to his credit, it is clear that Carmack is more than a technological visionary, but also a cultural trendsetter. 


Before co-founding id Software in 1991, Carmack worked at Softdisk Publishing.

In his spare time, Carmack oversees the design, construction and launch of guided rockets at Armadillo Aerospace.



9th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2009)

Hideo KojimaHideo Kojima

Renowned as one of the worlds most influential contemporary game developers, Hideo Kojima first decided to get involved in the game development business while studying economics. Driven by the hardware limitations of the MSX personal computer, he pursued a fresh approach to the action game genre and thus the stealth genre was born with Metal Gear. The debut title was then ported to the Famicom, known Stateside as the Nintendo Entertainment System, and received an unofficial sequel titled Snakes Revenge.


The global breakthrough for Kojimas career took place in 1998 when Metal Gear Solid was released on Sonys PlayStation platform. Before the sequel in 2002, Kojima also produced the mech action game Zone of the Enders. Kojima also created Boktai: The Sun in your Hand, a Game Boy Advance game which contained a photometric sensor in the cartridge that charged a vampires solar weapon, sending gamers outdoors to catch some fresh air. This type of idea is something that Kojima has become known forbreaking the fourth wall and forcing the player to interact with the game in ways outside of traditional gameplay.



8th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2008)

Sid MeierSid Meier

Meier began his career as a founding partner of MicroProse Software. Recognized around the world as the "Father of Computer Gaming," Meier has been honored with virtually every award in the industry. Sid's legacy IP such as F-19, Sid Meier's Civilization, Railroad Tycoon and Sid Meier's Pirates! are revered as some of the greatest games ever made. As Founding Partner and Director of Creative Development at Firaxis, Meier continues to deliver blockbuster hits like Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri and Sid Meier's Civilization IV. Meier has also been honored with several awards including an induction into the Computer Museum of America's Hall of Fame in 2002.



7th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2007)

Shigeru MiyamotoShigeru Miyamoto

Shigeru Miyamoto is a Japanese electronic game designer. He is the creator of the Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Wave Race, and Pikmin video game series for Nintendo game systems.


He is one of the world’s most celebrated game designers, and is often called one of the fathers of modern video gaming. His titles are characterized by refined control-mechanics and imaginative worlds in which the players are encouraged to discover things for themselves, as well as basic storylines, which had been almost unheard of before he introduced one of the first, featuring Mario. Employed by Nintendo (then a Hanafuda manufacturer) as an artist, in 1980 he was given the task of designing one of their first coin-op arcade games. The resulting title Donkey Kong was a huge success and the game’s lead character, Jump Man – later renamed Mario – has become Nintendo’s mascot. Miyamoto quickly became Nintendo’s star producer designing many franchises for the company, most of which are still active and very well-regarded.



6th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2006)

Richard Garriott

Born in Cambridge, England and raised in Houston, Texas, Richard Garriott is the son of astronaut Owen K. Garriott. In high school, Garriott developed an interest in computers and began self-directed courses in programming in which he created fantasy computer games. He also gained his "Lord British" nickname from older students who thought he spoke with a British accent.

Richard continued programming many games, often just offering them to friends for free. He produced his first published game, AKALABETH, at the age of 19, earning enough money to pay for his education. In the fall of 1980, he entered the University of Texas at Austin.


In the early '80s, Garriott developed the Ultima role-playing game franchise. The first Ultima, published by California Pacific Computers, was originally programmed for the Apple II and sold in ziplock plastic bags to interested parties. UltimaII was published by Sierra On-Line. By the time he developed his third installment, the ULTIMA games had such a large following that Garriott co-founded Origin Systems along with his brother, Robert.

Origin handled the publishing and distribution of all Ultima games, now available on several platforms and went on to become one of the most influential developers in video game history.

Garriott sold Origin to Electronic Arts in 1992 and launched Ultima Online, the first commercially viable massively multiplayer game. In April 2000, he left EA and formed Destination Games with his brother and Starr Long (the producer of Ultima Online). A year later, Destination partnered with NCsoft, where Garriott currently produces and designs MMORPGs.


Now a multi-millionaire, Garriott built his residence, a "haunted house"/museum called Britannia Manor in Austin, Texas. There, he is known for his Halloween parties almost as well as he is for his magnificent video games. An avid adventurer, Garriott has explored the bottom of the ocean in a research submarine and has ventured to Antarctica. He promotes private space flight as vice-chairman of the board of directors for Space Adventures and as a trustee of the X-Prize.


Garriott has changed the videogame world forever with the introduction of MMO games. Now, the industry eagerly awaits TABULA RASA, Garriott's upcoming sci-fi RPG.



5th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2005)

Eugene Jarvis

Eugene Jarvis received his first big break from Nolan Bushnell at Atari in 1977, signing on as a pinball game programmer. His debut video game was the smash hit Defender (1980). Defender's pioneering scrolling playfields, multi-planar graphics, particle effects, artificially intelligent enemies, and mindnumbing action helped seduce an entire generation to video games. Defender sold over 60,000 arcade games and 7,000,000 Atari 2600 cartridges.


Robotron: 2084 (1982), featured a revolutionary dual joystick control, and remains a classic action title. Robotron's record for adrenaline pumping action, and enemy body count has yet to be matched. NARC (1988) debuted digitized live-action actors, backgrounds, and flying body parts, and hi resolution graphics.


In 1990's, Eugene jump started the adventure driving genre with Cruis'n USA (1994), Cruis'n World (1996), and Cruis'n Exotica (2000)featuring photo-realistic 3-D texture mapping and modeling, and real world locations. The Cruis'n series is the all time highest grossing arcade driving series with over 65,000 arcade games sold worldwide. Cruis'n USA was a launch title for the Nintendo 64, and the series sold over 3,000,000 console games.


In 2001, Eugene founded the boutique design studio, Raw Thrills, dedicated to arcade game design. In 2004 Raw Thrills released its first two titles, the action shooter thriller "Target: Terror", and "The Fast and the Furious", a street racing title inspired by the Universal Studios hit movie. Both games debuted at the top of the arcade charts and are currently in worldwide release. Currently in development is Target: Terror 2, and a full motion motorcycle racer.



4th annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2004)

Mark Cerny

Known internationally as a master collaborator, Mark Cerny has served in a number of functions from creator and producer to programmer, designer, and publishing executive. He is respected by many in the industry for his ability to bring together the key people and necessary elements to develop and market consistently successful games. In his career achievements, Mark has indelibly changed the way games are made and those who make them.


Mark has been praised for his unique production method, an unconventional but highly successful approach to bringing games to market. The "Cerny Method" emphasizes an explorative risk-taking pre-production period, based on the belief that the best ideas require a period of creative freedom free from rigidly scheduled deadlines. He eschews the schedule-driven model that many people believe to be a common-sense approach to game development and further believes that that the ultimate success or failure of a game can be determined by its first playable level.

His influence is not limited to the teams and titles he has been involved with over the years. Through his talks at the Game Developers Conference (US and in Europe) and contributions to Game Developer Magazine his unique production method is known to many.


To merit a lifetime achievement award at such a young age one must begin early. Even before the age of twenty, Mark was team leader, designer and graphics programmer for Atari's Marble Madness, an early arcade classic. After Atari, he then spent several years with Sega in Japan, Mark founded and managed the Sega Technical Institute, where he oversaw the creation of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Kid Chameleon . He later joined Universal Interactive Studios as vice president, becoming its president two years later. Serving also as Executive Producer on Universal's titles, Mark made significant creative contributions to the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon series, which collectively sold over 30 million units.


As founder of Cerny Games, a game design consultancy, Mark continues to offer his expertise in the areas of production, design and technology.



3rd annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2003)

Gunpei Yokoi, creator, GameBoy

Born in Kyoto Japan in 1941, Gunpei Yokoi had always expressed an interest in gadgets and tinkering. Gunpei began his career in the game business when in 1965 Hiroshi Yamauchi hired Yokoi to maintain the heavy machinery on the assembly line of Nintendo. In 1969, as Nintendo expanded into the toy industry, Yamauchi asked Yokoi to develop a toy for the Christmas season. The next day Yokoi unveiled an invention developed in his spare time called Ultra Hand (a claw on an accordion arm that kids could extend by squeezing two handles). In its first year the Ultra series sold 1.2 million units worldwide.


Yokoi spent the next few years in toy development for Nintendo. After the US success of Pong, a new form of entertainment caught the attention of Mr. Yamauchi and Yokoi. At the request of Yamauchi, Yokoi and his Research & Development section (RD1) began to experiment with a new electronics technology. Yokoi designed a line of games called Game & Watch, a credit-card sized video game with inexpensive liquid-crystal display. To accommodate the small platform Yokoi created the pervasive and patented + shaped directional pad in which players had to move in four directions.


In 1980, as Nintendo entered the arcade business, Yamauchi assigned Yokoi to mentor young prodigy Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto designed the game and Yokoi built the hardware and the arcade world received the first product of this genius collaboration -- Donkey Kong. The two went on to create other arcade classics, including Donkey Kong Jr., Mario Bros. and Metroid.


In 1989, under Yokoi's direction, RD1 created the most popular and successful hand-held games console ever, the Game Boy. Yokoi later updated Game Boy to the Game Boy Pocket by making it smaller and adding a higher -resolution screen. After 10 years, the Game Boy and its successors have sold over 140 million units worldwide. In 1995 Yokoi was onto his next venture, the Virtual Boy, a huge product risk for both Yokio and Nintendo.

Although Yokoi resigned from Nintendo in August 1996, he continued to consult for his former employer as he started his new venture, Koto Company, best known for the production of Wonder Swan. Yokoi planned to produce hand-held games for children.


On October 4, 1997 , at the age of 56, Gunpei Yokoi was tragically killed in an automobile accident, abbreviating a brilliant career and life of a wonderful man.


Tonight we honor him with the Game Developers Choice Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Among Yokoi's credits are: Ultra Hand (1966), Ultra Machine (1968), Love Tester (1969), Light Ray Gun SP Series (1970), Erekonga (1970), NB Block Crater (1970), Ultra Scope (1971), Light Ray Telephone LT (1971), Lefty RX (1972), Time Shock (1972), Laser Kure Clay Shooting System (1973), Wild Gunman (1974), Shooting Trainer (1974), Light Ray Gun Custom Series (1976), Duck Hunt (1977), The Chilean Tree (1979), Game & Watch Series (1980), Donkey Kong [arcade] -producer- (1981), Game & Watch Wide Screen (1981), Game & Watch Multiple Screen (1982), Computer Mah-jong (1982), Famicom Controller (1983), Donkey Kong Jr. -producer- (1983), Game & Watch Color Screen (1984), Mario Bros. -producer- (1984), ROB Robot (1985), Metroid -producer- (1985), Kid Icarus -producer- (1985), Game Boy (1989), Metroid 2 -producer- (1990), Dr. Mario (1990), Super Scope (1992), Super Metroid -producer- (1993), Virtual Boy (1995), Tetris Attack (1995), Game Boy Pocket (1996)



2nd annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2002)

Yuji Naka, Sega

The IGDA is proud to honor Yuji Naka of Sega's SonicTeam with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Yuji Naka, is one of Sega's leading video game developers and is recognized worldwide for his contributions to the interactive entertainment industry. Creator of video game industry icon and Sega mascot, Sonic The Hedgehog, Yuji Naka is president of the world-renown Sonic Team, the group behind such innovative titles as Phantasy Star OnlineT, ChuChu Rocket!T, Samba de Amigo NightsT and the Sonic series.


Yuji Naka joined Sega as a programmer in 1984 and shortly thereafter, led in the development of the highly regarded F16 Fighting FalconT and original Phantasy StarT games. He continued on as an integral part in the creation of classic Sega titles OutrunT and Space HarrierT.


In 1991, Naka was named president of the forming SonicTeam, created to focus on development of titles starring Sega's Sonic. Yuji Naka led in the creation of the worldwide top-seller Sonic The Hedgehog for GenesisT, and went on to create the smash hit Sonic AdventureT and Sonic Adventure 2T for Sega DreamcastT.



1st annual Game Developers Choice Awards (2001)

Will Wright, Maxis

Will Wright, Maxis' Chief Designer, co-founded Maxis with Jeff Braun in 1987. Will began working on what would become SimCity - The City Simulator in 1985. Using a complex technique, he found a way to bring realistic simulations to desktop PCs.


SimCity was released in 1989, and within a few months became a hit. The game has since won 24 domestic and international awards. With Fred Haslem, Will co-designed SimEarth - The Living Planet in 1990, a simulation of a planet based on the Gaia theory of James Lovelock. In 1991, Will and Justin McCormick designed SimAnt - The Electronic Ant Colony, a scientifically-accurate simulation of an ant colony. SimCity 2000, and SimCopter, a helicopter flight game, are also part of Will's recent repertoire. The latest incarnation of SimCity, SimCity 3000 Unlimited, the definitive version of 1999's best-selling game SimCity 3000, has continued in the tradition.


Taking computer entertainment to its most personal level yet, Will's newest game The Sims, puts players in charge of the lives of a neighborhood of simulated people. Released in February of 2000, this wildly popular title has become a cultural phenomenon, sold over 3 million copies worldwide and has received numerous "Game of The Years" accolades. It inspired an expansion pack, Livin' Large, which allows players to put their simulated families from The Sims into new extreme situations and settings.


Will has become one of the most successful designers of interactive entertainment in the world. In 1999 he was included in Entertainment Weekly's "It List" of "the 100 most creative people in entertainment" as well as Time Digital's "Digital 50," a listing of "the most important people shaping technology today."


Pre Choice Awards

The Game Developers Choice Awards evolved from the previous "Spotlight Awards" that were hosted by the CGDC and CGDA during the mid-late nineties. Althought vastly different in approach, fundamentally the Spotlight Awards served the same purpose of recognizing excellence in games. Lifetime Achievement Awards were similarly bestowed as part of the Spotlight Awards.


1999 Spotlight Awards

Louis Castle, Westwood


1998 Spotlight Awards

Dani Bunten Berry

Designer and director of development for 12 original computer games, including such classics as Command HQ, Seven Cities of Gold, and M.U.L.E. She was instrumental in bringing multiplayer games to the world.