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GDC Rescinds Award For Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell After Criticisms of Sexually Inappropriate Behavior (polygon.com) 498

The organizers of the Game Developers Choice Awards announced today that they have rescinded the Pioneer Award for Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, and announced the award will not be given this year entirely. "The decision follows a day of outcry after GDC organizers announced that Bushnell, 74, had been tapped for the GDCA's lifetime achievement honor," reports Polygon. "News accounts and histories over the past several years have documented a history of workplace misconduct and sexist behavior toward women by Bushnell, during Atari's early days." From the report: In a statement this morning, GDC said its awards committee "made the decision not to give out a Pioneer Award for this year's event, following additional feedback from the community. They believe their picks should reflect the values of today's game industry and will dedicate this year's award to honor the pioneering and unheard voices of the past." The Pioneer Award is for "individuals who developed a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture in video game history," according to its official site. Nine have been conferred since 2008, none of them women. Bushnell founded Atari in 1972 and installed the first coin-operated video game, Pong, shortly thereafter. He presided over the company's rise to dominate the early generation of home console gaming before selling it off and founding what is today the Chuck E. Cheese line of restaurants. Bushnell issued a statement on Twitter: "I applaud the GDC for ensuring that their institution reflects what is right, specifically with regards to how people should be treated in the workplace. And if that means an award is the price I have to pay personally so the whole industry may be more aware and sensitive to these issues, I applaud that, too. If my personal actions or the actions of anyone who ever worked with me offended or caused pain to anyone at our companies, then I apologize without reservation."
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GDC Rescinds Award For Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell After Criticisms of Sexually Inappropriate Behavior

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  • Prediction... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @05:40PM (#56043591)

    Right or wrong, this Politically Correct shaming is almost certainly going to backfire on women as fewer and fewer men in leadership positions risk bringing this kind of liability on board.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      "...this kind of liability..."

      I support the non-bringing on board of sexual harassers.

      • I support the non-bringing on board of sexual harassers.

        Problem is, you can't tell whether someone's a harasser by looking at him, and he's certainly not going to tell you. Companies are going to try to eliminate the problem the easy way.

    • Re:Prediction... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Alypius ( 3606369 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @06:12PM (#56043831)
      The Pence Rule is looking more and more attractive (can I say that?) every day.
    • It's not politically correct. It's humanly correct.
      • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
        It's humanly correct if it actually happens. It seems like a fraction of the accused admit it and take their "punishment," but the vast majority say it never happened or was consensual - why are people so quick to believe one side over the other? Because it fits the "narrative?" So due process doesn't matter anymore because the accusations confirm the bias of the masses?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Corollary: Organizations that can successfully recruit talented woman enjoy a tremendous competitive advantage, as they have twice the talent pool to recruit from for future positions.

      Furthermore, what you suggest is not exactly new. It is just another shade of lipstick on top of the passe shades of lipstick on the same old pig. There is always a lame excuse why this is not quite the right time to do the right thing, that the old wrong thing is so superior because it is comfortable (to certain men).

    • Burn them alive by the neckbeard!

      You may find it improves recruiting all around.

    • Why, is it easier for guys to discriminate illegally than to behave themselves?
  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @05:44PM (#56043629)
    In other news, Jesus H. Christ has been rescinded the son of god and lord savior awards to insufficiently progressive views toward women during 15 to 22 in the year of our lord.
    • In other news, Jesus H. Christ has been rescinded the son of god and lord savior awards to insufficiently progressive views toward women during 15 to 22 in the year of our lord.

      The whole purpose of the award is to recognize actions from ~40 years ago that are more appreciated now than at the time. I don't think it's out of line to also look if some of the surrounding behaviours are more objectionable now than at the time.

    • There's lots of other reasons [youtube.com] to rescind his status.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @05:50PM (#56043667)

    No one can take away what Bushnell brought to the gaming world and his response to losing this award shows that whatever may or may not have happened in the past, the man is currently a beacon of class.

  • This is bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @05:55PM (#56043713)
    utter, total, bullshit.

    So now, on account of gossip and innuendo, we're going to just strike people from history?

    Not 20 years ago Christian fundamentalists were mocked and pilloried for ramming their morals down people's throats and following some stupid rule book. Now we have an entire zombie movement enforcing their morals views and attitudes on a public as a whole.
    There's not ONE PERSON ALIVE who's not guilty of unsavory behavior of one kind or another and we've entered an age where "my unsavory behavior" is now considered untouchable but "your unsavory behavior" is damnable.
    Fuck that. Make a law and make it a crime through the official processes. Did Bushnell actually commit a crime? Bring him up on charges. This condemning or people to non-existence without even a chance for defense is Orwellian, wrong and downright evil - just as it was 20 years ago.
    • You clearly haven't been paying attention to the whole "Columbus Day" vs "Indigenous Peoples Day" asshattery.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @06:12PM (#56043825)

      utter, total, bullshit. There's not ONE PERSON ALIVE who's not guilty of unsavory behavior of one kind or another...

      Yes there are. They're a large group of pure individuals who can do no wrong called "women".

    • Nobidy condemned anybody to anything. They did not give billshit award to him. Big deal.

      Slander that men ar3 exposed to under the #metoo hashtag - that's the real oitrage.

    • Re:This is bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @06:25PM (#56043929)

      Hey kiddos, would do you some good to do some actual reading:

      Steven L. Kent’s 2001 book The Ultimate History of Video Games describes how much Bushnell liked to have “fun” at work — sometimes, a very sexually aggressive form of fun — and “made sure that the men around him agreed with his philosophy.” They “held meetings in hot tubs, drank heavily, experimented with drugs... Sometimes Atari board meetings seemed more like fraternity parties than business meetings.”

      The book also quotes Pong designer Al Alcon, who describes one such meeting. “Nolan needed some papers and documents so he called his office and said, ‘Have Miss so and so bring them up.’ We were in this tub [when she arrived], so he proceeded to try to get her in the tub during the board meeting. Nolan’s attorney was miffed [because] we got his papers wet. He was not in the hot tub and he was not amused by any of this. That was the sort of fun we had.”

      And that's just one example from the article.

      In the mean time, OP and the those that voted this +5 insightful can go back to r/incel or whatever cesspool you crawled out of.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It was the 70s. There were hot tubs. That kind of thing was OK back then. Hell, Bill Clinton straight up raped women and he got the presidency. In the 90s! And the feminist Gloria Steinem wrote in the New York Times attacking his accusers! So let's not judge what happened back then by today's standards. It's not fair.
        • From the sounds of the story, there were 4 people, and 2 of them knew it was wrong. The other 2 thought it was OK, even though they knew the other 2 thought it was wrong.

          So what exactly isn't fair? That it took this long for him to get any pushback at all? People told him it was wrong. He didn't care.

    • He acknowledged the behavior and excused it with "It's was the late 60s / early 70s, that's just what we did".

      The behavior was wrong then and it's wrong now. There can and should be consequences for these kinds of actions. As a parent I _want_ there to be consequences. I don't want people to think they can get away with this crap because nobody wants to talk badly about somebody who also happened to do good things. If we did that the Cosby Show would still be in syndication.
    • He's not stricken from history... he just didn't get some plaque... and he doesn't seem all that peeved about it.

    • Not 20 years ago Christian fundamentalists were mocked and pilloried

      Yes ... surely.

      for ramming their morals down people's throats and following some stupid rule book.

      Ah yes, I remember all that Christian theocracy we were subject to in 1998. Like it was yesterday ;) People getting fired left and right, purges everywhere, hashtags galore, the prayers and hymns at the Emmys, the Oscars, ah, good times ...

  • by SchroedingersCat ( 583063 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @05:56PM (#56043719)
    Anyone care to explain how personal indiscretions affect his achievements in developing "a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture in video game history"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They don't affect his achievements. But maybe if humans collectively stop glorifying, rewarding and celebrating known shitheads for their shithead behavior (despite the positive contributions they make), the next generation of achievers, contributors and fame/glory seekers won't be such shitheads to people and the world might be a slightly better place.
      • by Scarred Intellect ( 1648867 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @06:41PM (#56044051) Homepage Journal

        They don't affect his achievements. But maybe if humans collectively stop glorifying, rewarding and celebrating known shitheads for their shithead behavior...

        No one's glorifying, rewarding, or celebrating his shithead behavior here. Hell, I'm sure most of us never even heard of any of this.

        • by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @09:40PM (#56045121)

          They don't affect his achievements. But maybe if humans collectively stop glorifying, rewarding and celebrating known shitheads for their shithead behavior...

          No one's glorifying, rewarding, or celebrating his shithead behavior here. Hell, I'm sure most of us never even heard of any of this.

          But now you have heard of it. And you can't glorify his achievements from that era without glorifying that shithead behaviour.

    • by another_twilight ( 585366 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @06:40PM (#56044043)

      Anyone care to explain how personal indiscretions affect his achievements in developing "a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture in video game history"?

      It doesn't. What it affects is our current decision on whether to laud this person for those achievements and to hold them up as an example.

      It is possible to respect someone's achievements while also criticising their manner or behaviour. By only acknowledging the achievements and making no comment on the negative behaviour, once that behaviour has been brought to your attention, then in silence you support that behaviour. Had this award not been rescinded, then the GDC would, at best, be ignoring the problem and at worst would be tacitly supporting the behaviour.

      By withdrawing the award, specifically as a response to information about Nolan's behaviour, the GDC is not saying that Nolan wasn't influential or that he didn't achieve what he did. It's saying that his actions outside of those achievements are such that he isn't the person the GDC would like to hold up as a positive example.

      ---

      Nolan's tweet in response is ... elegant. 'If' he offended or caused pain, he apologises. He neither confirms nor denies. He praises the actions of the GDC. It's a classy, clever response to an ugly situation. If it's sincere, I don't think you can ask more. If it's not, it's a damn fine piece of spin control.

      • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @12:59AM (#56045693)

        By withdrawing the award, specifically as a response to information about Nolan's behaviour, the GDC is not saying that Nolan wasn't influential or that he didn't achieve what he did. It's saying that his actions outside of those achievements are such that he isn't the person the GDC would like to hold up as a positive example.

        As much as I respect that position, just like the award was rescinded because of conflating his behavior with his accomplishments, the rescission has now caused a schism between the meaning of the award and accomplishment.

        I was a kid when the Atari VCS [wikipedia.org] hit the store shelves. It was the first mass-consumer microprocessor-controlled computing device in history. Yes there were other computers for sale at the same time, some even before, many more powerful. But the Atari was the one that became ubiquitous in people's homes. It was most people's first experience with a programmable computing device at home. It was the one that introduced the masses to the idea of one device serve multiple functions (different games in this case) simply by switching the program it was running.

        If the guy who made that possible isn't worthy of your lifetime achievement award in computer gaming, then your lifetime achievement award in computer gaming is pretty meaningless. It's like denying Wernher von Braun's contributions to space exploration because he originally built the V2 for the Nazis which killed thousands. Sometimes a person's achievements and contribution to advancing the state of technology completely overshadow the negative things s/he may also have done. I get the feeling the people protesting him getting the award either weren't around in the late 1970s, or didn't care about video games so completely missed what an important milestone the Atari VCS was in history.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by quantaman ( 517394 )

      Anyone care to explain how personal indiscretions affect his achievements in developing "a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture in video game history"?

      From the accounts in the article he was largely responsible for a workplace that was really hostile to women. Given his place in the industry, the games he chose to develop, how he chose to market those games, and the template he established for a successful gaming company, he likely had a real influence on gaming culture (which led a lot of men to software development).

      If another man had developed "a breakthrough technology, game concept, or gameplay design at a crucial juncture in video game history" it's

    • People are a lot more interests in the deeds of Ivan the Great than Ivan the Terrible.

      Yes, if he behaved as a decent human being or a monster does affect how people will remember him, and what they will remember him for.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think we need to put a bit of perspective on this. While the behavior sounds reprehensible, it's not Harvey Weinstein-level and it sounds like this stuff was going on 35 years ago. Rape is rape, consent is consent, but we have a far more nuanced understanding these days about power imbalances and harassment in the workplace.

    If this stuff was going on in the last decade, I think it's fair game.

    We need to draw a line somewhere and say it's not reasonable to judge workplace behavior decades ago by the standa

    • We need to draw a line somewhere and say it's not reasonable to judge workplace behavior decades ago by the standards of the current era.

      No. It was skeevy then and it's skeevy now. Men who sexually harassed women in the '70s knew what they were doing was wrong, but they also knew there was a lot less the women could do to fight back. They made a choice.

      Ask a woman who was in the workplace in the 1970s whether she didn't mind sexual harassment back then "because it was '70s". In the "court of public opi

      • by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @06:29PM (#56043965)

        You might want to learn more about culture history, my friend.
        A few decades ago, The Flintstones (cartoon characters) were advertising cigarettes during cartoon breaks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAExoSozc2c). This is now illegal, however we're not chasing the poor bastards who drew those commercials to throw them in jail, do we?

    • for moral absolutism. If we can't look back and say "That was wrong and they shouldn't have done it" then we don't really have a compelling argument against the behavior in question. If something morally wrong is acceptable in context than all you need to do to make it acceptable again is change the context. Regression becomes easy.

      This isn't idle chit-chat either. There's a lot of folks who pine for the 'good 'ole days' when sexual harassment not only went unpunished but reporting it _was_ punished. Wh
      • by Anonymous Coward

        ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!
        You have some nerve claiming that it's just people longing for the "good ole days" and they're all conservatives.

        As if Bill Clinton is a conservative.
        As if Harvey Weinstein is a conservative.
        As if Kevin Spacey is a conservative.

        You have such a piss poor understanding of history that you fail to forget that it was progressivism and openness that led to the sexual revolution and the loosening of the "conservative" values that kept this sort of thing in check.

        You have a piss poor un

  • Please continue to discuss this topic.

  • It seems to me like absolutely zero male corporate executives, or basically anyone in a position of power, is going to escape this. In my career I've worked with tons of slimebag executives and type-A salespeople...and basically all of them have at least the potential to be involved in inappropriate behavior. It was just the way things were done previously.

    I guess my question is when it's going to stop being front page news. Usually these things have a limited window of interest, but basically every male in

    • Who cares? Why should we shed a tear for some slimy asshole executive?
      • Because you could be next.
        "Offensive behavior" and "sexual harassment" are very vaguely defined. Hell, you could ask a co-worker out right now, with the best intentions, fully respecting today's rules, and be called a "slimy asshole" 30 years down the line, simply because 30 years from now the rules will have changed to the extent your today's actions would be immoral, or, God forbid, illegal.

        Their actions from the 70s are reproachable by today's standards, but they were standard behavior back then.

        So watch

    • It seems to me like absolutely zero male corporate executives, or basically anyone in a position of power, is going to escape this.

      Many, even most. But not all.

      Ideally the current ability for past behaviour to be exposed, for patterns of behaviour to be demonstrated, for victims to discover that they are not alone and to share their experiences will result in slimebags not being as successful as they have been. Maybe then people who aren't slimebags will rise to more senior positions and we'll see less sociopathic behaviour at the executive level. I doubt that this will be the case, but at least there's now more scrutiny and more press

  • by LocalH ( 28506 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @06:09PM (#56043807) Homepage

    Guess it's time to vilify him too.

    • with the way he treated his workers in China I'm all for this. He was also an absolute dick to Wozniak and while the Woz forgave him I wonder how that would have ended up if instead of Woz eventually getting rich he'd been completely ripped off and left penniless. There's no shortage of broke engineers who's designs were central to the development of computers after all.

      Despite the famous RDF there's plenty of folks who don't like Jobs for plenty of reasons. So yeah, lets take him down a few pegs.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Bill Clinton comes to mind. He still gets speaking engagements. Why is he being rewarded for his borish behavior?

    • Steve Jobs came up in that culture, guess it's time to vilify him too.

      Don't be silly, Steve Jobs should be vilified because he was a conceited asshole who denied having a daughter for two decades.

  • #CutThemAllOff (Score:2, Interesting)

    At age 74, what chick did he hug forty years ago to deserve retroactive career extinction?

  • I will admit that a lot of this is virtue signalling and the GDC organizers really haven't handled it well. However, we have a problem in our society where some men have abused their power to manipulate women and those women have had no other recourse. If your only weapon to fight back with is public shaming and destroying someones career then it puts the victim in a tough position. I'm sure most of them don't think the public shaming is the appropriate outcome. We as a society need to come up with an alter
  • All those kids who got awards for participation should be prepared to have them rescinded when they don't toe the politically correct line.

  • by Reverend Green ( 4973045 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @06:38AM (#56046409)

    Burn the witch! Burn the witch! BURN THE WITCH!!!

    -----

    This hysteria for persecution of heterosexuality, this pestilence of violent neo-Puritanism - this, oh my bothers, is one of the many reasons China is beating is at absolutely everything.

The possession of a book becomes a substitute for reading it. -- Anthony Burgess

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