Game Developers Choice Awards honor Anita Sarkeesian, Riot founders

Organizers of the 14th annual Game Developers Choice Awards have named this year's Special Award winners, honoring Riot Games founders Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill alongside Feminist Frequency creator Anita Sarkeesian at an upcoming ceremony event.

The event's Pioneer Award will go to Beck and Merrill for their work on the genre-defining League of Legends, an online multiplayer game that reports 27 million players daily. League of Legends has spurred exponential growth within the eSports arena, and attracts a dedicated viewership on streaming services like Twitch.

Sarkeesian will receive the GDCA's Ambassador Award, a prize honoring individuals who help the video games industry "advance to a better place" through advocacy or action. Sarkeesian promoted widespread discussion regarding video game gender roles in her Kickstarter-funded Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video series, and regularly addresses related social issues within gaming communities.

The Game Developers Choice Awards will be held on March 19 at the San Francisco Moscone Center, as part of the upcoming Game Developers Conference.

[Image: Riot Games]
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2014 GAME DEVELOPERS CHOICE AWARDS HONORING

FEMINIST FREQUENCY CREATOR ANITA SARKEESIAN WITH AMBASSADOR AWARD, RIOT GAMES' BRANDON BECK AND MARC MERRILL WITH PIONEER AWARD

Team Behind Hey Ash Web Series Join Mega64 To Provide Video Skits During the Ceremony

SAN FRANCISCO – February 11, 2014 – The 14th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA), the peer-awarded highest honors in video game development, has revealed its two final Special Award winners for this year.

The Ambassador Award, honoring someone who is helping video games "advance to a better place" through advocacy or action, is going to media critic Anita Sarkeesian, creator of Feminist Frequency, the video series that explores representations of women in game and pop culture narratives. The Pioneer Award, honoring a breakthrough tech and gameplay design milestone, will go to Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill, the co-founders of League of Legends creators Riot Games.

Ambassador Award winner Sarkeesian, whose honor was bestowed after open nominations from the game development community and voting by the Game Developers Choice Advisory Committee - http://www.gamechoiceawards.com/advisory.html - has explored the representation of women in pop culture, with a particular focus on representation within the medium of video games.

In her work, Anita Sarkeesian has deconstructed the stereotypes, patterns and tropes associated with women in popular culture, and highlighted issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces. In doing so, Sarkeesian has herself been subjected to harsh reactions ranging from epithets to misogynistic threats of violence. This online harassment did nothing to stifle the success of her Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games online video series, which quickly reached, then exceeded its funding goal.

Pioneer Award winners Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill are the minds behind League of Legends, a game that is played by more than 27 million players every day and by more than 67 million players every month. The duo created Riot with the mission to be the most player-focused company in the world, and the Pioneer award is built upon the Staples Center-sized eSports growth and new community paradigms created by the company.

Ultimately, that level of player engagement has earned League of Legends a remarkable level of commitment from players, who regularly spend more than a billion hours a month in the game as of March 2013. As President of Riot Games, Merrill has led development, publishing, people, and live operations on League of Legends, while Beck drives Riot's strategy and creative vision as CEO.

Finally, as part of the awards evening that includes both the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Choice Awards, the team behind the Hey Ash Whatcha Playin'? video series, Ashley and Anthony Burch, will contribute brand-new videos to the Independent Games Festival this year. They augment the efforts of ceremony favorites, the video game sketch anarchists Mega64, who are returning to make videos for the Game Developers Choice Awards this year.

The Game Developers Choice Awards are produced in association with the Game Developers Conference® (GDC) and will take place on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 6:30pm at the San Francisco Moscone Center and is open to all GDC attendees. As previously announced, the Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony will be hosted by Respawn Entertainment's community manager, Abbie Heppe, also the voice of Sarah in Respawn's upcoming Titanfall, and will be immediately preceded by the Independent Games Festival Awards hosted by Capy president and co-founder Nathan Vella (Below, Super TIME Force).

More information about the 14th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards can be found on the official website at http://www.gamechoiceawards.com - and for information about the 2014 Game Developers Conference, please visit thehttp://www.gdconf.com.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.