IGDA Foundation Honors Game Development Luminaries Xalavier Nelson Jr., Alireza Seddighi with Awards at GDC

SAN FRANCISCO – March 21, 2024 – The International Game Developers Association Foundation (IGDA-F) proudly announces the recipients of the prestigious Gerald Lawson and Eric Dybsand awards, being presented during the 2024 Game Developers Conference (GDC). 

The Gerald Lawson Award for Achievement in Game Development acknowledges the accomplishments of individuals from underrepresented minorities in the game development community. This year’s recipient, Xalavier Nelson Jr., a BAFTA-nominated studio head, narrative director, and Forbes 30 under 30 luminary, has made significant contributions to the industry through his diverse portfolio of credits, including Stranger Things VRMagic: The Gathering, and El Paso, Elsewhere.

Upon receiving the award, Xalavier Nelson Jr. expressed his appreciation, saying, “I am immensely honored to be recognized with the Gerald Lawson award, and can only begin to express my gratitude towards those who have uplifted and empowered my voice to make this impact. If my story is emblematic of anything, I believe it to be the grace of God and the necessity for black leadership in video games. When we enable black directors and leads to fully enhance the projects they are attached to with the power of their nuanced creative perspective, everyone wins.”

Gerald Lawson pioneered the Fairchild Channel F, the first home video game system with interchangeable games.  His daughter Karen Lawson conveyed her appreciation for the IGDA Foundation continuing to honor her father’s contribution. She stated, “Our family is deeply moved by the IGDA Foundation’s commitment to recognizing the groundbreaking work of my father. This award not only celebrates his legacy but also emphasizes the importance of expanding the space in the game development community to include faces and voices that may not otherwise be seen or heard.”

The Eric Dybsand Award, named in memory of one of the “original AI guys” at GDC, is presented to one aspiring developer demonstrating excellence in the field of artificial intelligence. This year’s recipient, Alireza Seddighi, a PhD in Software Systems Engineering and an AI-infused game developer, has demonstrated a remarkable ability to solve complex problems in game development using innovative AI approaches. His projects have been lauded for their effectiveness, groundbreaking nature, and transformative impact on the industry. In addition, he was a lecturer in AI and Game development courses at numerous universities.

In recognition of his achievements, Alireza Seddighi shared his excitement, stating, “Receiving the Eric Dybsand Award is a tremendous honor. It fuels my passion for exploring the limitless possibilities of AI in game development and motivates me to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation.”

In 2024, the IGDA Foundation brought back its in-person GDC programming for the first time since 2019. This program was first established in 2007 and gives individuals from underrepresented communities around the globe a chance to attend GDC, learn more about the industry, and connect with experienced mentors face-to-face. 

The IGDA-F is sponsored by a generous group of industry companies, including Double Fine ProductionsStride PR, and Premack Rogers. Since 2008, the IGDA-F has supported more than 1,000 alumni who now develop games at AAA studios, publishers, indie studios, sound studios, graphic arts studios, and more.

In addition to the awards, the IGDA Foundation is now accepting applications through April 30th, 2024 for its game industry grantee programs, the online-only 2024 Virtual Exchange. The program offers learning opportunities, mentorship, and networking for individuals from underrepresented communities around the globe. 

To learn more about the IGDA-Foundation’s initiatives and how to apply for information sessions, visit https://www.igdafoundation.org/app/now, and follow @IGDAFoundation on LinkedIn and on social media to stay updated.

About the IGDA Foundation

The International Game Developers Association Foundation (IGDA-F) is dedicated to advancing inclusivity and diversity in the gaming industry by providing opportunities, education, and support for individuals from underrepresented communities. The IGDA-F is sponsored by a generous group of industry companies, including Double Fine Productions, Stride PR, and Premack Rogers. Since 2008, the IGDA-F has supported more than 1,000 alumni who now develop games at both AAA and indie studios.

For more information, visit https://igdafoundation.org