Every year, the Game Developers Choice Awards recognizes people that have had a significant influence in the industry for one reason or another. The recognition comes in the form of the Pioneer Award and is given to those that have "developed a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture in video game history."

This year, the award was to be given to Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell. However, once this news broke, GDC was flooded with concerns and a fair bit of outrage from the gaming community. It was then that GDC organizers were prompted to revoke the planned reward for Bushnell.

Why was the public upset at GDC's choice of Bushnell? It seems to stem from the fact that Bushnell helped to foster sexist work environments. It seems as though Atari's culture was one of sexism, drinking, and drugs. It is also to perhaps important to keep in mind that this was back in the 70s when this was the social norm and often also the legal norm (to a degree, of course) of the era. One such example of Bushnell's behavior comes from former employees such as Al Alcorn via the book The Ultimate History of Video Games. In the book, Alcorn says that Bushnell tried to convince a female employee to join a "hot tub board meeting." Bushnell himself admitted in a Playboy interview that the first codename for Pong was "Darlene," named after a female employee that "was stacked and had the tiniest waist." At the age of 33, he told the San Francisco Chronicle that he finds "the aura of power and money (to be) very intimidating to an awful number of girls."

These and other examples of Bushnell's sexist past are what prompted other industry figures to speak out against the GDC Pioneer Award nod. Today, GDC officially rescinded the Pioneer Award from Nolan Bushnell.

Nolan Bushnell released his own statement following GDC's announcement earlier in the day.
"I applaud the GDC for ensuring that their institution reflects what is right, specifically with regards to how people should be treated in the workplace. And if that means an award is the price I have to pay personally so that the whole industry may be more aware and sensitive to these issues, I applaud that, too," Bushnell stated. "If my personal actions or the actions of anyone who ever worked with me offended or caused pain to anyone at our companies, then I apologize without reservations."

Following today's announcement from the GDC and the response from Bushnell, many have taken to social media to voice their opinions, for better or worse. The biggest showing coming from #notnolan on Twitter. (It should be noted that the hashtag has since been co-opted by 4chan rejects and the general assortment of morons to attack and belittle those who have voiced their support of women who have been sexually harassed. View #notnolan at your own risk.) The first concern that people have is what the "limit" is on when it's okay to accept that people like Bushnell may or may not have changed over time. Is it ever okay to recognize such change if their indiscretions are well in the past? To note, it has been over four decades since Atari was founded.

In a statement issued to Glixel, game design lead at Opaque Space, Jennifer Scheurle, shares these final thoughts on the matter.
"Bushnell has without doubt done a lot of interesting work in the field with his work on Pong, but we can't forget that his methods at Atari, and how he treated female staff, have been part of the difficult culture for women in the games industry we face today."

"We need to understand that supporting this award for him potentially causes real pain among the women who had to endure him and it sends a difficult message to everybody who is currently enduring similar behavior in our industry," she added. "It tells women who have been exposed to similar situations that their perpetrators can not only get away with that, but [they] will also be recognized for their work, even if their behavior along the way was unacceptable."

(via PCGamesN, Rolling Stone)