Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson will be honored with a “Pioneer” award during March’s Game Developers Choice Awards, event organizers announced today. The award goes to individuals who helped achieve “breakthrough tech and game design,” and Minecraft undoubtedly meets that qualification.
Previous recipients of the Pioneer Award, which was formerly known as the First Penguin Award, have included Elite designer David Braben, Riot Games founders Branden Beck and Marc Merrill, Valve boss Gabe Newell, and Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki, among others.
This won’t be Persson’s first GDC award as he won in 2011 for Minecraft in the categories of Best Downloadable Game, Best Debut Game, and the Innovation Award. Minecraft also took home the Independent Games Festival’s top honor that year, becoming the first game to win at both the Game Developers Choice Awards and the IGF Awards (which is produced in partnership with the Game Developers Choice Awards) in the same year.
Persson left Minecraft developer Mojang in 2014 when Microsoft acquired the franchise and company for $2.5 billion. He had a reported 70 percent stake in Mojang, and made off quite well from the sale.
GDC organizers also announced today that Tracy Fullerton, who heads up the University of Southern California’s Game Innovation Lab, will take home the Ambassador Award. This honors a person who helps video games “advance to a better place through advocacy or action.”
In addition to these special awards, the show will name winners for games across a range of categories. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt lead the way with four nominations each, including nods for overall Game of the Year.
The Game Developers Choice Awards take place on the evening of Wednesday, March 16, in San Francisco.