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Game Developers Choice Awards to Honor Founders of PopCap Games, Game Music Pioneer Masaya Matsuura, BioWare CEOs

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - February 24, 2004 - The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) is honoring six gaming professionals whose contributions have been invaluable to the evolution of interactive entertainment at the 4th annual Game Developers Choice Awards.

The 4th annual Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 24, 2004 , during the Game Developers Conference (GDC), the leading professional development event for the interactive entertainment industry, in San Jose , Calif.

The founders of PopCap Games will receive the IGDA's newest honor, the Maverick Award; game music pioneer Masaya Matsuura will receive the First Penguin Award; and BioWare CEOs Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk will be acknowledged for Community Contribution.

Maverick Award

New this year, the Maverick Award recognizes the achievements of a developer who exhibits independence in thought and action while experimenting with emerging forms of digital games. The first recipients will be the three founders of PopCap Games, Brian Fiete (engineer), Jason Kapalka (game designer) and John Vechey (business development). Together, the pioneers successfully launched casual online games into the mainstream marketplace in 2000, ignoring the conventional wisdom that "success is on the consoles." Further, CNNMoney deemed PopCap's risky move toward downloadable deluxe versions of online titles as the "second coming of shareware."

"Having ventured into the online space during the ill-fated Internet bust, the founders of PopCap Games have demonstrated true maverick qualities," said Jason Della Rocca, Program Director, IGDA. "While entrepreneurs' dreams were being crushed, they persevered and carved out a niche in online gaming, which has now become a mainstream pastime."

PopCap's games can be found on numerous platforms from the Web to PCs to Macs, to PDAs and cell phones, even in mid-flight airline entertainment. Earlier this month, Bookworm won Computer Gaming World's Puzzle Game of the Year. The company's flagship game, Bejeweled, was the previous Puzzle Game of the Year and Commercial Game of the Year for Palm Platforms by Handheld Computing.

First Penguin Award

Acknowledging developers who have taken risks to break new ground, the First Penguin Award will go to music genius Masaya Matsuura for his trailblazing work with beat-rhythm and music games. Matsuura was instrumental in the release of Parappa the Rapper in Japan , one of the first break-through music games. Parappa the Rapper won the 1996 CECA Award, the Japan Software Award and was named Japan Game of the Year 1997 by the readers of 18 domestic game magazines. Matsuura's innovative approach is further reflected in later games such as Vib-Ribbon and mojibribbon.

"I am honored to be recognized for breaking the ice in bringing music to the gaming world," said Matsuura. "I feel proud that my passion for blending rhythm and images has made an impact on an industry. The exciting thing is that games have so much growth potential."

Matsuura started his career in computer entertainment in the early 1980's. While playing with Apple II computer software Kaleidoscope, he was mesmerized with the images but felt it was missing the music. Matsuura went on to form a band called PSY'S, which pushed the frontiers of computer music.

IGDA Award for Community Contribution

The IGDA Award for Community Contribution is presented to a developer who has made significant efforts in building community and advancing the art form of interactive entertainment. This year's award will be given to BioWare's joint CEOs, Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, whose contributions have been felt both within and outside the gaming industry.

Muzyka and Zeschuk serve on a number of boards and committees year after year -- Muzyka acting as founding co-chair on the IGDA Business Committee, and Zeschuk acting as an IGDA board member -- exchanging ideas and knowledge with other gaming veterans as well as those new to the space. The two CEOs also make the time to speak regularly at GDC and other industry events.

Demonstrating their community spirit outside of the computer and video game world, the pair also show their philanthropic support in the areas of advanced education and children's health and welfare. BioWare regularly contributes to local children's health charities such as the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation, and the company has also established the BioWare Kids Fund, dedicated to raising money to aid children's mental health efforts in the Edmonton, Alberta area. BioWare has also partnered with the University of Alberta on a number of advanced education programs.

BioWare has been recognized as one of Canada 's top 100 employers, reflecting Muzyka and Zeschuk's commitment to creating a quality company that can deliver award-winning games. Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic are among BioWare's successes, and the company is currently developing Jade Empire, an action-RPG to be published by Microsoft on the Xbox video game system.

"We can only hope to find more gems like Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk," said Della Rocca. "As these inspiring CEOs strive to improve our industry, they will undoubtedly impact and foster more influential leaders."

The 4th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards are sponsored by NVIDIA.

About the International Game Developers Association (IGDA)

The International Game Developers Association is a non-profit membership organization that advocates globally on issues related to digital game creation. The IGDA's mission is to strengthen the international game development community and effect change to benefit that community. For more information on the IGDA, please visit www.igda.org or e-mail info@igda.org.

About the CMP Game Group

A core provider of essential information and community to the professional game industry, the CMP Game Group includes the Game Developers Conference, Game Developer magazine, Gamasutra.com, the Independent Games Festival, and the Game Developers Choice Awards. For more information, please visit www.cmpgame.com.

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