Activision Co-Founder Crane to Get Pioneer Award

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The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) has announced its first Pioneer Award recipient, David Crane, one of the most successful designers of entertainment software.

“The Pioneer Award recognizes contributions made by the original men and women whose efforts helped to create the interactive entertainment industry that we know today,” said Joseph Olin, president, AIAS. “For most of these people, their work is done and they have retired from the industry.”

Not so for David Crane. He’s designing games and has said he’ll continue to do so until the day he dies.

Not only has Crane been fascinated by games since he was a child, he also immersed himself in electronics; dismantling TV’s and wiring circuits.  In addition, he studied painting and graphic arts.

Crane started his career at Atari making games, including Outlaw, Slot Machine and Canyon Bomber for the Atari 2600. He was instrumental in the design of the Atari 800 computer’s operating system and later developed the Display Processor Chip (DPC), which was awarded a patent for its innovative video memory system.

In 1979, Crane co-founded Activision with Alan Miller, Jim Levy, Bob Whitehead and Larry Kaplan. At Activision, Crane was best known as the designer of Pitfall!, which is credited as being the first platform game. Pitfall! stayed at the top of the Billboard charts for 64 weeks and was named video game of the year in 1982. In addition to selling millions of copies worldwide, the game spawned a Saturday morning TV cartoon and numerous other spin-offs. Other titles under Crane’s direction that received critical acclaim and enjoyed major successes include:

  • Pitfall! II: Lost Caverns - #1 rated game in the country for six weeks and winner of the 1984 Golden Floppy Award
  •  Decathlon - Top 20 video game for more than a year and won several sports games awards
  •  Ghostbusters - Crane’s ninth release received unprecedented sales around the world
  • Little Computer People -Won game of the year by Computer Entertainer and was awarded 1985’s most innovative title 

Other popular games made while at Activision include, Dragster, Freeway, Fishing Derby and Grand Prix.

In 1986, Crane left Activision and joined Absolute Entertainment, founded by Garry Kitchen. He was best known for his successful and innovative NES titles, Amazing Tennis, whose components are modeled after real people Crane played tennis with and A Boy and His Blob, following the adventures of the protagonist and his companion, a shape-shifting, jellybean eating “blob.” The game developed enough of a following that in 2009, it was remade as a Nintendo Wii game.

In 1995, Crane and Kitchen co-founded Skyworks Technologies, a privately held multimedia developer specializing in casual games. Their portfolio of online games has been played by more than one billion players around the world. Skyworks currently has several iPhone games in the App store, such as Arcade Bowling, Boardwalk Games, Arcade Hoops and Field Goal Frenzy. The company pioneered the concept of advergaming with clients, including The Lifesavers Company, Proctor and Gamble, Sony, CBS, ESPN, Kraft, Ford and BMW.

The Pioneer Award will be presented to Crane by Garry Kitchen, co-founder, Absolute Entertainment and Skyworks, at the 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards. The awards will be hosted by actor, comedian and avid video game player Jay Mohr and will take place during the 2010 D.I.C.E. Summit on Thursday, February 18, 2010 at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas.

Way to go Mr. Crane, and thank you.

In : PC

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