Controversy erupts over GDC Pioneer Award as PUBG, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, others receive GOTY nods [Update]

By Stephany Nunneley, Wednesday, 31 January 2018 15:43 GMT

The GDC Awards return in March, during which various developers will be honored with coveted awards chosen by their peers. Specialty awards such as the Pioneer Award, will also be handed out, and the latter has caused a bit of controversy this year.

Organizers of the 18th annual GDC Award have decided not to honor Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell with the Pioneer Award after many protested the choice due to past behavior on Bushnell’s part.

In fact, a Pioneer Award will not be handed out at all, according to a statement posted to the official GDC Twitter account.

“The Game Developers Choice Advisory Committee, who vote on the Special Award winners for each show, have made a decision not to give out a Pioneer Award for this year’s event, following additional feedback from the community,” reads the tweet.

“They believe their picks should reflect the values of today’s games industry and will dedicate this year’s award to honor all of the pioneering and unheard voices of the past,” according to a statement sent out on the Game Developers Conference official Twitter account.

In response, Bushnell released the following statement on Twitter:

The original story follows.

Original Story

GDC organizers have announced the list of nominees and honorable mentions for the 18th annual Game Developers Choice Awards, but one of the announcements has become a cause célèbre for some game developers and other members of the industry.

Specialty awards being handed out this year include the Ambassador Award which will go to Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail. Double Fine’s Tim Schafer will be presented with the award for Lifetime Achievement.

At present, Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell is set to receive the Pioneer Award, but GDC organizers are looking “more closely” at this choice, after his nomination was called into question and a #NotNolan campaign surfaced on Twitter.

According to a report on Glixel, the campaign against Atari founder Nolan Bushnell surfaced after his nomination was announced yesterday.

Game developers and academics called out the organizers’ choice due to previously published stories outlining infamous “hot tub Atari board meetings,” and other publicized stories of sexism, a request to fashion joysticks resembling breasts for the Gotcha arcade game, and other behavior considered inappropriate.

GDC and the committee which nominated Bushnell were unaware of his history, according to a spokesperson. Glixel has the full story through the link.

 

breath_of_the_wild

 

Game of the Year nominees are PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Nier: Automata, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Super Mario Odyssey.

The games nominated for each category had to have been released and made publicly available during the 2017 calendar year.

Games nominated in multiple categories include Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn with six each, along with  PUBG, Night in the Woods, and Nier: Automata with three each.

Last year, Overwatch won Game of the Year and Best Design awards.

The complete list of nominees, including honorable mentions, for the 18th annual Game Developers Choice Awards are listed below.

 

2018 GDC Awards Nominations

Game of the Year

  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corporation)
  • Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

Honorable Mentions: Cuphead (StudioMDHR), What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive), Persona 5 (P-Studio / Atlus), Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory), Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive), Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Larian Studios), Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall / Finji)

Best Audio

  • Cuphead(StudioMDHR)
  • Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix)
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Honorable Mentions: Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo), Star Wars: Battlefront II (EA DICE / Electronic Arts), Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom), Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision), Persona 5 (P-Studio / Atlus), Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall / Finji)

Best Debut

  • Team Cherry (Hollow Knight)
  • Sidebar Games (Golf Story)
  • StudioMDHR (Cuphead)
  • Infinite Fall (Night in the Woods)
  • Jason Roberts / Buried Signal (Gorogoa)

Honorable Mentions: Game Grumps (Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator), Terrible Toybox (Thimbleweed Park), Team Salvato (Doki Doki Literature Club!), Lizardcube (Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap)

Best Design

  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corporation)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix)

Honorable Mentions: Cuphead (StudioMDHR), Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive), What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive), Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Larian Studios), Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (Bennett Foddy), Prey (Arkane Studios / Bethesda Softworks)

Innovation Award

  • Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive)
  • Everything (David OReilly / Double Fine Productions)
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corporation)

Honorable Mentions: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory), Cuphead (StudioMDHR), Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix), Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment), Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo), Tacoma (Fullbright), Pyre (Supergiant Games)

Best Mobile Game

  • Reigns: Her Majesty (Nerial / Devolver Digital)
  • Hidden Folks (Adriaan de Jongh and Sylvain Tegroeg)
  • Monument Valley 2 (ustwo games)
  • Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive)
  • Bury Me, My Love (The Pixel Hunt / Figs / ARTE France / Playdius)

Honorable Mentions: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo), Fire Emblem Heroes (Intelligent Systems and Nintendo EPD / Nintendo), Old Man’s Journey (Broken Rules), Flipflop Solitaire (Zach Gage), Gnog (KO_OP / Double Fine Productions)

Best Narrative

  • Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall / Finji)
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
  • What Remains of Edith Finch (Giant Sparrow / Annapurna Interactive)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus (MachineGames / Bethesda Softworks)

Honorable Mentions: Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix), Tacoma (Fullbright), Persona 5 (P-Studio / Atlus), The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo), Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Larian Studios), Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Best Technology

  • Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision)
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory)
  • Assassin’s Creed: Origins (Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

Honorable Mentions: Star Wars Battlefront II (EA DICE / Electronic Arts), Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (MachineGames / Bethesda Softworks), Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment), Nier: Automata (PlatinumGames / Square Enix), Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom)

Best Visual Art

  • Persona 5 (P-Studio / Atlus)
  • Cuphead (StudioMDHR)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall / Finji)

Honorable Mentions: Gorogoa (Jason Roberts / Buried Signal / Annapurna Interactive), Star Wars Battlefront II (EA DICE / Electronic Arts), Assassin’s Creed Origins (Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft), Destiny 2 (Bungie / Activision), Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory), Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

Best VR/AR Game

  • Superhot VR (SUPERHOT Team)
  • Star Trek: Bridge Crew (Red Storm Entertainment / Ubisoft)
  • Lone Echo (Ready at Dawn / Oculus Studios)
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom)
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR (Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks)

Honorable Mentions: Farpoint (Impulse Gear / Sony Interactive Entertainment), Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality (Owlchemy Labs / Adult Swim Games), Luna (Funomena), Robo Recall (Epic Games), Gnog (KO_OP/ Double Fine Productions), Doom VFR (id Software / Bethesda Softworks)

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