In 2008, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts decided to shelve its game awards for the first time since the category was introduced in 1998. However, the absence proved to be a one-time occurrence, given that BAFTA announced in August that the game category would return in 2009, though it would now take place on March 10 as opposed to the mid-October ceremonies held in years past.
Administrative formalities thus resolved, BAFTA announced today that it will honor Atari founder and game-industry forefather Nolan Bushnell with its Fellowship award during this year's event. Bushnell is widely regarded as the original entrepreneur within the industry, having contributed heavily to the proliferation of Al Alcorn's Pong in the 1970s.
"The Fellowship is the highest accolade the Academy can bestow on an individual for their creative work, and we are very excited that Nolan is flying over to accept it at the Awards," said BAFTA chairman David Parfitt. "His contribution is nothing short of remarkable; he ushered in an era, the legacy of which is the vibrant, evolving industry we see before us today."
Bushnell, who went on to found family-friendly arcade Chuck E Cheese as well as gaming-themed restaurant uWink, has most recently been involved with GameWager. The PC-centric online platform implements a token system into a variety of multiplayer PC games such as Valve's Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2. Tokens, which are earned by achieving in-game objectives, can then be spent on a chance to win a number of prizes, such as Alienware laptops or Nvidia graphics cards.
This year, the 2009 BAFTA game awards will be held at the London Hilton in Park Lane, Mayfair. For more on the event, check out BAFTA's official Web site.