Eugene Jarvis, co-founder of Raw Thrills and arcade game veteran, is to be honored this February 6 by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences with the 2014 Pioneer Award. The award will be presented to Jarvis during the D.I.C.E. Summit awards ceremony, held at The Joint in the Hard Rock Resort at Casino Las Vegas.
Jarvis began his career with Atari making pinballs, but soon moved on to take a job at Wlliams, again making pinballs. However, during his time at Williams, he encountered the highly addictive and popular game Space Invaders which inspired Jarvis to create his first pay-to-play video game - Defenders.
Defenders was one of the defining games of the arcade golden age and was one of the highest grossing games of it's time. He then followed this with the ground-breaking Robotron: 2084 which was the first game to use dual joystick control, a concept which is now familiar amongst arcade and home consoles.
The Pioneer Award is reserved for industry leaders whose work has helped shape interactive entertainment through technological leaps or the introduction of new genres - a criterion Jarvis has covered well. Martin Rae, president of the AIAS commented, saying "Eugene Jarvis truly pioneered much of how we play now - from introducing dual joystick controls which are so familiar today to unleashing game play elements that challenged players in completely different ways."
The award will be presented by NBA Jam creator, Mark Turmell, who was an associate of Jarvis at Midway Games. "Eugene is simply the quintessential American game designer," said Turmell. "I joined Midway so I could work with Eugene, and I apply his teachings to my own games every single day. I learned more from my time with him than during my other 30 years of game making combined. His games have taught a generation of game developers how to innovate and succeed; the design elements and his approach to tuning are timeless."
"As we celebrate a new golden age of gaming at this year's D.I.C.E. Summit, it is only fitting that we acknowledge a key player from the golden age of coin-op who was so instrumenmtal in establishing the interactive industry we enjoy today," said Rae.
In an interview with WIRED
, Jarvis conferred the secret to his success with arcade:
"You really have to have a very intense experience that people are willing to pay for, sop that's a real challenge (...). I love that you can tailor the controls for each game, make that control exactly what the game requires. You're right up against the screen; it's a more intense and high-fidelity experience."
Jarvis now runs Raw Thrills as one of three co-founders, which is the company that created the much loved Big Buck Series - a game that has taken the interactive entertainment and amusement industry by storm. Raw Thrills is also gearing up for the wide spread release of their highly anticipated driving game, Batman Arcade, and their new shoote, Alien Armageddon.
The arcade veteran will join the ranks of previous honorees, including Activision co-founder David Crane, developer Bill Budge, Asteroids programmer Ed Logg, and Zork creators Dave Lebling and Marc Blank.