Atari cofounder Nolan Bushnell was supposed to receive an award from the Game Developers Conference for his contributions to the gaming industry — until people came forward about Bushnell's own admissions of improper and possibly sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
Following significant backlash, the organizers of the GDC have announced that they're going to rescind the award — the annual Pioneer Award — after several people pointed out sexually charged behavior and dialogue by Bushnell in the early days of Atari. While these instances have long been documented in books and interviews, they sparked new criticism in light of the #MeToo movement.
GDC Cancels Nolan Bushnell's Pioneer Award
On Twitter, the GDC explained their decision to pull the award:
"The Game Developers Choice Awards Advisory Committee ... have made the decision not to give out a Pioneer Award for this year's event, following additional feedback from the community," reads the announcement.
Nolan Bushnell Reacts
Surprisingly, Bushnell didn't become sour at the decision. Quite the opposite actually: the cofounder said he supports the revoking of his award and even applauds the GDC for its move.
"I applaud the GDC for ensuring that their institution reflects what is right, specifically with regard to how people should be treated in the workplace," said Bushnell in a statement, while also apologizing to the individuals whom he may have mistreated in the past. "I apologize without reservation."
Earlier this week, the GDC announced Bushnell as the recipient of one of the event's most prestigious honors. But not long after the news spread, game developers and all sorts of people who had knowledge of Bushnell's past behavior took to Twitter to voice out their frustration with the fact that he was going to receive the award despite the potent and raging #MeToo movement.
Asked why GDC was giving the award to Bushnell despite his workplace improprieties, officials said they didn't know about his history and were re-examining his nomination, which has now lead to the cancellation of the award altogether.
Bushnell has been outspoken about the early days of Atari, which involved hot tub meetings that "seemed more like fraternity parties than business meetings." They would also often name projects after female employees they found attractive.
The GDC officially commences March 19 through 23, with the expo beginning on 21 through 23. It will be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California. Thoughts about GDC? What do you think of Nolan Bushnell's award being pulled? As always, if you have anything to share, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!