February and March see the arrival of two of the more prestigious industry events of the year: the DICE Summit and the Game Developers Conference. This week, DICE show-runner the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences announced that Mark Cerny will be inducted into the organization's Hall of Fame. Think Services, which organizes GDC, also announced that Valve Software's Gabe Newell will be honored with this year's Pioneer Award.
Cerny, who currently serves as president of game-consultant firm Cerny Games, led development on Atari's classic puzzler Marble Madness, before spending several years at Sega Japan. There, he founded and managed the Sega Technical Institute and oversaw the creation of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Kid Chameleon. He later served as president of Universal Interactive Studios, contributing to such franchises as Crash Bandicoot, Ratchet & Clank, and Spyro the Dragon.
"Mark Cerny is the closest we have come to a modern-day da Vinci," AIAS president Joseph Olin said in a statement. "What he does isn't restricted to a single aspect of game creation; he really is a Renaissance man. He is a diversely accomplished game designer, producer, programmer and technologist, fluent in Japanese and one of the foremost Western experts on the Japanese game market. … The projects that he has contributed to have been phenomenally successful, with sales of almost $2 billion dollars and over a dozen titles each exceeding 2 million units in sales."
Cerny will be presented with the award at the 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards on February 18. The event will be held at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, with comedian Jay Mohr returning as this year's host.
Valve cofounder Gabe Newell will be honored with the Pioneer Award as part of the Game Developers Choice Awards. The award is given to honor "those individuals responsible for developing a vital technology or game design at a crucial juncture in video game history, paving the way for the many who followed them." Newell started Valve in 1996, after leaving software giant Microsoft.
The Choice Awards Advisory Committee, which includes such industry luminaries as Ben Cousins (EA DICE), Harvey Smith (Arkane), Ray Muzyka (BioWare), and Clint Hocking (Ubisoft), selected Newell due to his contribution to creating the digital distribution service Steam, which has played home to Valve's line of top-rated hits such as the Half-Life series and Portal as well as an increasing number of third-party PC games.
Newell will receive the Pioneer Award as part of the Game Developers Choice Awards at this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on March 11.