Markus Persson, the Swedish developer behind the phenomenally successful game Minecraft, is to be given the Special Award at the GAME British Academy Video Games Awards on Friday 16 March.
32 year-old Persson started his career in games programming at King.com and jAlbum where he developed games including Funny Farm, Luxor and Carnival Shootout. After leaving the company, Persson designed and released an unfinished version of his block-building construction game Minecraft in May 2009. BAFTA’s Special Award, which is presented to an individual for their creative contribution to the industry, highlights Minecraft as a standout accomplishment in Persson’s career.
Despite remaining unfinished, Minecraft is continually updated and since its first release has amassed over 16 million registered users who have built everything from the Taj Mahal to the Starship Enterprise within the game. The game now brings in revenues of around £160,000 per day and to date has made £62 million. Minecraft’s success has allowed Persson, dubbed the poster-boy of digital distribution, to create his own development company, Mojang Specifications, and secure merchandising contracts with companies such as The Lego Group.
On being invited to receive the Special Award, Persson said: "I've always considered the BAFTA Awards to be one of the most prestigious awards one can receive, and I was very happy when it expanded to cover video games in 1998. When I first heard that I would receive a BAFTA Special Award, I was blown away and deeply humbled. Going to London to accept this award is going to be a very positive and interesting experience that I'm very much looking forward to."
Ray Maguire, Chair of the BAFTA Video Games Committee, said: “Markus is an inspiration for all games developers and this Award reflects the determination and innovation that he continues to show to both the developer community and to gamers worldwide. We are thrilled that he will accept this Award and are excited to see what new developments he will introduce to the industry in years to come.”
The GAME British Academy Video Games Awards will take place on Friday 16 March at the London Hilton on Park Lane and, for the fourth year running, will be hosted by comedian and gamer Dara O’Briain.
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The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public. In addition to its Awards ceremonies, BAFTA has a year-round Learning & Events programme that offers unique access to some of the world’s most inspiring talent through workshops, master classes, lectures and mentoring schemes, connecting with audiences of all ages and backgrounds across the UK, Los Angeles and New York. BAFTA relies on income from membership subscriptions, individual donations, trusts, foundations and corporate partnerships to support its on-going outreach work. For further information, visit www.bafta.org .
Games were entered by both developers and publishers into all the categories listed in this release and were initially voted on by BAFTA’s video games members and a carefully selected list of industry experts via a secure website.
The titles garnering the most votes went through to specialist juries who receive the games prior to making their nominations.
Each juror signs confidentiality papers and casts their votes on paper. The results in each category are not known until the envelope is opened on the night.
GAME is Europe’s leading specialist retailer of pc and video game products. Since the start of trading in 1991 with 11 stores in the UK, it has grown both organically and through acquisition to a chain of over 1,300 outlets in January 2009. It operates stores in ten countries, supported by eCommerce websites. Online retail is located at www.game.co.uk . For further corporate information, log onto www.gamegroup.plc.uk .