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Gaming pioneers Al Alcorn and Ralph Baer to be honored at 2015 DICE Awards

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Al Alcorn and the late Ralph Baer will both be honored with the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' Pioneer Award at the 2015 DICE Awards next month, the organization announced last week.

Rich Hilleman, chief creative director at Electronic Arts and a member of the AIAS board, will present the award to Alcorn and posthumously to Baer. They will be the seventh and eighth recipients of the AIAS Pioneer Award, which was first given in 2010 and is "reserved for individuals whose career-spanning work has helped shape and define the interactive entertainment industry," according to the AIAS.

"In honoring these two very talented individuals, we are celebrating the very foundation of our industry — one in which creativity and technology collide in seemingly limitless possibilities," said Martin Rae, AIAS president, in a prepared statement. "The Academy is thrilled to honor Pioneers Baer and Alcorn on behalf of the interactive entertainment industry and perhaps introduce the next generation of game makers to these individuals who helped create and shape our art form."

Allan Alcorn (above left), 67, became the third employee at Atari in 1972, and created the home console version of Pong in 1974 after developing the original game in three months. He left Atari in 1983 and later spent five years at Apple. Currently, Alcorn is the vice president of engineering at uGetit, a design and technology firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ralph H. Baer (above right), the inventor known as the "Father of Video Games," created several prototypes during the late 1960s for devices that could play interactive games on a television. His work culminated in the original "Brown Box," which was released commercially in 1972 as the Magnavox Odyssey, the world's first home video game console. Baer also invented electronic games such as Simon and Maniac, and received the National Medal of Technology from President George W. Bush in 2006. He died at the age of 92 last month. Baer's son Mark Baer and grandson Alex Baer will accept the AIAS Pioneer Award on his behalf.

The 18th DICE Awards will begin at 7:30 p.m. PT on Feb. 5, at The Joint in the Hard Rock Resort and Casino Las Vegas.

Photo: Alcorn and Baer during the 2008 Game Developers Conference, by Alex Handy.