Team to receive Academy of Arts and Sciences Pioneer Award
Before there was Call of Duty or Candy Crush, before Mario or Minecraft, there was Spacewar!, the 1962 game that helped launch the multi-billion dollar video games industry.
Now, almost sixty-years later, the seven remaining creators of Spacewar! are reuniting for the very first time, for one extraordinary evening, as part of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation “Innovative Lives” series, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. This is, truly, a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Dan Edwards, Martin (“Shag”) Graetz, Steven Piner, Steve (“Slug”) Russell, Peter Samson, Robert Saunders and Wayne Wiitanen, spry Octogenarians all, will discuss how Spacewar! was created in their “spare time” when MIT received its first PDP-1 computer. Moderated by Christopher Weaver, founder of Bethesda Softworks, the group will also reflect upon the growth of computer games and the transformation of computer technology over the past halfcentury.
“In the course of only 50 years, video games grew from the idea of a few pioneers, to an industry that educates and entertains billions of people worldwide”, said Arthur Daemmrich, director of the Lemelson Center. “We are honored and delighted to host the “Spacewar!” team for this memorable event.”
The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) will present Pioneer Awards to the creators of Spacewar! during the event. The award will be presented by Meggan Scavio, president of the AIAS. The Pioneer Award is reserved for individuals whose work has helped shape the interactive entertainment industry through the creation of a new technological approach, or the introduction of a new genre. The Spacewar! creators will be the AIAS’ ninth through fifteenth Pioneer Award recipients.
The evening will include questions from the audience, and those attending will have the opportunity to play historic games…perhaps against the creators of the games themselves!
The event is part of the larger Videogame Pioneers Initiative (VPI) at the Smithsonian, created to preserve the beginnings and evolution of the industry in the words of its founders. The firsthand recollections and personal artifacts of these Pioneers will allow scholars and the public to understand the personalities, technologies and social forces that came together to make interactive entertainment one of the largest and most lucrative industries of all time.
“Many common things in our daily lives, such as the smart phone, owe a substantial part of their development to the computer game industry,” said Christopher Weaver, a Lemelson Center Distinguished Scholar and co-Director of the VPI, “Society owes a debt of gratitude to early innovators such as the Spacewar! “boys,” who not only helped provide the foundation upon which the computer games industry is built, but have inspired generations of computer scientists, engineers, artists and mathematicians in the process.”
The Videogame Pioneers Initiative [http://invention.si.edu/videogame-pioneers-initiative] An initiative to preserve the legacy of video game pioneers through extensive oral histories and preservation of original documents and other materials. The Initiative is integral to the Lemelson Center’s work to understand invention as a process, the making of inventors and innovators, and the role of risk-taking in inventive work. The VPI Advisory Group includes luminaries, museum scholars and educators: David Brock, Don Daglow, Jon-Paul Dyson, Richard Garriott, Jim Gee, Brenda Gunn, Richard Hilleman, Brenda Laurel, Henry Lowood, Ted Price, Brenda Romero, John Romero, Steve Meretzky, Sid Meier, Warren Spector, Christopher Weaver
The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS) [https://www.interactive.org] Meggan Scavio, President The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences is dedicated to the advancement and recognition of the interactive arts. Its mission is to promote and advance the worldwide interactive entertainment community and recognize outstanding achievements in the interactive arts and sciences. The organization has more than 30,000 members.