Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell is to be honored with a Fellowship Award at the 2009 GAME British Academy Video Games Awards in recognition of his role in "kick-starting the videogames revolution."
Founded in 1972, Atari figured prominently in the development of early video arcades by adapting the tennis game on the Magnavox Odyssey to a coin-operated stand-up famously known as Pong. Two years later, a home version of the game would make the name even more widely known, but it was the 1977 launch of the Atari 2600 that really put the company, and videogaming, on the map.
"I am humbled to be selected for this honor from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts," Bushnell said. "The British people are not only great game players but have historically been some of the best game creators. The pub culture and country house drawing room environments have been instrumental in spawning games and game players through the centuries. I am very grateful to receive an award from the people with a history of creating and embracing this type of entertainment."
"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," added Academy 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."
Despite his pedigree and gratitude at being selected for the award, however, Bushnell is somewhat less than thrilled with how videogames have evolved. In an interview with Electronic Design in late 2007, he expressed disdain for the modern videogame industry, saying, "Videogames today are a race to the bottom. They are pure, unadulterated trash and I'm sad for that."
The GAME British Academy Video Game Awards will take place on March 10. More information is available at bafta.org.