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2023 Game Developers Choice Awards Reveal Recipients of Pioneer and Lifetime Achievement Awards

The 23rd Annual Awards Ceremony To Be Held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco
On March 22 During GDC 2023

SAN FRANCISCO – February 23, 2023 – Organizers of the 23rd Annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA), the leading peer-based video game event celebrating the industry’s top games and developers, have revealed the recipients of the ceremony’s prestigious special awards. Mabel Addis, recognized as the first female game designer, will posthumously receive the Pioneer Award, which honors breakthrough business, tech and game design milestones. The award-winning game designer, level designer and programmer John Romero will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work on such iconic and genre defining first-person shooters like Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM and Quake.

The 23rd annual awards ceremony will take place at the 2023 Game Developers Conference (GDC) on Wednesday, March 22 and held in conjunction with the Independent Games Festival Awards (IGF). The ceremony is available to watch in-person for all GDC 2023 pass-holders as well as livestreamed on the official GDC Twitch channel. The 37th edition of GDC will be held fully in-person at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center from March 20-24.

Mabel Addis is recognized as the first female game designer, but that title alone does not convey the breadth of her pioneering work. As the lead designer of 1964’s The Sumerian Game, she helped pave the way for game elements that wouldn’t become mainstream for decades. Among the innovations she helped conceive were game updates, in-game narrative experiences and early iterations of what would become known as cutscenes, which,  in 1964, took the form of photo slideshows accompanied by synchronized audio. The Sumerian Game itself predates modern display technology and instead used a computer printer to express in-game dialogue and prompts, which took the form of an in-game narrator/character who asked questions and conveyed game prompts. Working as a grade school teacher and developing The Sumerian Game on the side, Addis turned to her degree in ancient history from Barnard College for inspiration, crafting an in-game narrative about ancient Mesopotamia and helping to create the genre that we now call edutainment games. The Pioneer Award will be given to Mabel Addis as a posthumous honor to recognize the innovation, creativity and dedication to education that she maintained through her professional life up until her passing on August 13, 2004.

John Romero will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work developing more than 100 published games, which include such genre-defining classics as Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM and Quake. As an early indie game developer, Romero’s first game development experience started in 1979 on computer mainframes before moving to the Apple II in 1982, working as a completely self-taught programmer, designer and artist. He is considered to be among the world’s top game designers, with previous works that have won over 100 industry awards, and a range of development experience in the mobile, hardcore, mid-core, casual and MMO space. He has co-founded more than 10 successful game companies, including id Software, Gazillion Entertainment, and most recently, Romero Games which celebrated its 7th anniversary in 2022.

“This year, the Game Developers Choice Awards will recognize two of the most impactful game development talents in history, Mabel Addis and John Romero.” said Stephenie Hawkins, Director of Event Production for Media & Entertainment at Informa Tech. “The Game Developers Choice Awards are proud to honor two artists with wildly divergent career trajectories,  who worked decades apart but shared a creative passion and ingenuity that would help define entire game genres for decades.”

Recipients of the Pioneer and Lifetime Achievement Awards were chosen by this year’s Game Developers Choice Special Awards Jury, which includes game industry veterans Chandana Ekanayake, Greg Kasavin, Dana Nightingale, Siobhan Reddy and Kiki Wolfkill, following suggestions from the International Choice Awards Network (ICAN).

For more information about the 23rdd annual Game Developers Choice Awards, visit: For more details on the Game Developers Conference, please visit the GDC’s official website, or subscribe to regular updates via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS. Official photos are available via the Official GDC Flickr account:

About GDC

The Game Developers Conference® (GDC) is the world’s largest professional game industry event with market-defining content for programmers, artists, producers, game designers, audio professionals, business decision-makers, and others involved in the development of interactive games and immersive experiences. GDC brings together the global game development community year-round through events and digital media, including the GDC Masterclass, GDC Vault,, Game Career Guide, Independent Games Festival and Summit, and the Game Developers Choice Awards.

GDC is organized by Informa PLC, a leading B2B information services group and the largest B2B Events organizer in the world. To learn more and for the latest news and information visit


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