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Game Developers Choice Online Awards Honor Kesmai Founders, SOE's EverQuest

Organizers of GDC Online have revealed that the 2011 Online Game Legend Award at the second annual Game Developers Choice Online Awards will go to John Taylor and Kelton Flinn, the founders of Kesmai Corporation, and the creators of seminal, inspirational early online games including Island of Kesmai and Air Warrior.

In addition, the second persistent online game to be inducted into the Choice Online Awards Hall of Fame will be Sony Online Entertainment's beloved fantasy game EverQuest, a still-operating title which was one of the most important early 3D MMO titles. Both recipients will be honored during the Choice Online Awards ceremony, taking place October 12, 2011 at GDC Online in Austin.

The special awards are a celebration of the iconic developers and games that have had terrific influence in shaping the now massive online games category. Honorees were selected through open nominations from the online game community and the distinguished GDC Online Advisory Board.

The board includes game industry veterans, leaders and luminaries such as Zynga Austin's John Blakely, Blizzard Entertainment's J. Allen Brack, BioWare Mythic's Eugene Evans, Playdom's Raph Koster, Nexon's Min Kim, and Riot Games' Brandon Beck.

This year's Online Game Legend award will be presented to the creators of Island of Kesmai, John Taylor and Kelton Flinn. The GDC Online organizers chose these two recipients in recognition of their achievements as game creators who have made a permanent impact on the craft of developing online games -- and for having provided a launch pad for many other accomplished developers' careers for nearly 20 years.

Flinn started writing multiplayer games while a college student, competing then collaborating with Taylor. This work was characterized by the CompuServe-hosted MUD Island of Kesmai, which they wrote following graduate school in the early 1980s. In the ASCII-based world of Island of Kesmai, real-time text communication between players -- while solving dungeon quests and participating in combat -- was a major influence on many of the online games to come.

In addition to that title, Kesmai Corporation, founded in 1982 by Taylor and Flinn, sought to commercialize the game ideas they had cultivated and produced titles including Mega Wars III, Harpoon Online, Multiplayer BattleTech. They also produced 1986's online multiplayer Air Warrior, one of the first persistent titles to employ 3D (albeit wireframe) graphics, and a title largely credited with the birth of the online flight sim genre.

Key players in today's online game development, such as industry veterans Gordon Walton (Star Wars: The Old Republic), Bill Dalton (Ultima Online) and many others have gone on to successful careers in online games after starting out at Kesmai Corporation with Taylor and Flinn.

The game voted into the Choice Online Awards Hall of Fame, Sony Online Entertainment's EverQuest, is now in its twelfth year of continuous operation. The fantasy MMORPG title launched in March 1999, and was one of the first games to introduce the concept of guilds and raiding within an online world.

Since then, millions of gamers have ventured into its fantasy MMO universe, which has hosted 17 expansion packs, as well as multiple spinoff console titles, sequels, novelizations and even a board game.

The original MMORPG has seen such enduring popularity among fans that it still runs independently alongside its sequel, EverQuest II. Members of the original SOE EverQuest launch team will be on stage alongside the current operators of the influential MMO title to accept the Hall of Fame award.

More information about the second annual Game Developers Choice Online Awards is available at the official website for the GDC Online awards. GDC Online will take place in Austin, Texas from October 10-13, 2011. Information about sessions and registration is available at the official GDC Online website. GDC Online is owned and operated by UBM TechWeb.

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