GDC Cancels Nolan Bushnell Pioneer Awards, Following #NotNolan Backlash

Every year, the Game Developers Conference holds an awards ceremony, celebrating the games of the past year and recognizing notable members of the industry. Last year, the Pioneer Award went to Prince of Persia's Jordan Mechner. This year, it was due to be Atari founder Nolan Bushnell. But the news was met with criticism; in the past, Bushnell has bragged about the sexualized nature of Atari’s freewheeling office in the 1970s. The result was a #notnolan hashtag, where his comments took center stage.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

seems like the right move. it’s too bad they couldn’t find somebody, maybe one of those overlooked voices they allude to, to give it to but maybe that gets complicated? I dunno.

I’m fairly impressed by Nolan’s response. he comes right up to the edge but doesn’t quite out and out admit to having been kind of a creep back in the day. I wish he had been more explicit about it, but at least I get the impression from this that he has regrets about the way he acted in the past. maybe he just knows the right answers though. I dunno, I am ready to have my mind changed. I realize I’m a white dude who is sometimes a bit too ready to give people the benefit of the doubt and may not always have the most dialed in perspective on this stuff.

EDIT: okay, so I missed the part where the Playboy interview was from 2012 and in my head I was assuming it had been in like the 80s or something when both Atari and Playboy were far more relevant brands. anyway the fact that he was still talking like that within the past decade sours my opinion of him considerably and if I had read closer I would not have been so generous in my initial assessment.

tenor (4)

People change but it shouldn’t take others calling you out publicly before you admit that you were a sleaze. If prior to this he had gotten out there and had made an attempt at saying he regrets it I could maybe see an argument but as is he is only responding because the way he used to act is now publicly shamed. Not to mention that he “wistfully recalled” that time of his life just 6 years ago publicly for Playboy magazine.

Maybe I’m wrong and this is the event that opens his eyes to how treating women like objects is an extremely shitty thing to do but I somehow doubt that a 74 year old man who has been like that his whole life is going to suddenly do a 180.

1 Like

Yeah unless he’s been meditating on this for three months and changed his opinions I don’t think he’s going to become a new person. He tweeted like three months ago about how people are too sensitive now.

That said I do think this is a surprisingly not horrible apology, though I’m not going to ignore the “if” he includes.


The “if”-condition is a classic way of apologizing without admitting fault, it ruins the whole purpose of apologizing. I would expect a more sincere apology to be more explicit about what you’ve done wrong and owning up to that fact, taking responsibility.

He handles the situation with that class, but I don’t find that commendable, it just means that he knows the right words and he’s aware of how any other response would be perceived. I realize that the standard of conduct for public figures has gone down recently, but the fact that he didn’t respond like a petulant child doesn’t mean that he should get the benefit of the doubt.

haha whoops, yeah I definitely missed the date and assumed that Playboy interview was way older than it actually was. that changes changes my interpretation of his statement pretty dramatically.