Chris Hecker's IGDA Community Contribution Award

This year, Chris Hecker is receiving the IGDA's Community Contribution award at the GDC. Since the award is all about community involvement, we wanted to give people a chance to write in their congratulations for and stories about Chris so we can present him with a collection of them after he receives the award.

The award ceremony will be on Wednesday, March 23rd, at 6:30PM. Anyone who would like to come and cheer Chris on, but who doesn't have a pass to the event, please e-mail Jen Pahlka and she will try to get you in.

Feel free to pass this page on to anyone else who might like to sign, but just don't tell Chris!

Thanks, and see you at the ceremony.

Name: Ernest Adams
Message to Chris: As I said in my lecture at GDC 2006, in front of an audience of several hundred people:

"Chris Hecker is what you would get if crossed Albert Einstein with Tigger."

They laughed. But they knew I was right. And I mean that with love.

Name: Jeff Roberts yet again
Message to Chris: More Chris Stories while I wait at the airport...

The first time I hung out with Chris form more than just going to dinner, was when he asked if I wanted to come over and test video cards with GLSetup. He said it would take a couple hours and we could talk while we tested.

Well, when I got there, his office was a complete disaster with half a dozen machines all torn apart. And one monitor. It took a couple hours just to *find* the video cards that we were going to test. And we couldn't really both test, since there was only one monitor, so Chris mostly supervised my fairly lax testing procedure.

Chris had this big list of check marks that I was supposed to check off - but I efficiently inferred many of the checks based on whether the machine simply booted with the new drivers at all.

"Good Enough" became my new phrase as a couple hours stretched into four and then eight and then almost 30 hours later we were still plugging in those fucking video cards and my knuckles were raw from scraping against the hardware.

Chris showed me all of his physics demos that day and I showed him how to properly eat squeeze cheese from the can (you don't press the dispenser with your finger, instead you put the dispenser in your mouth and tilt the entire
can until the dispenser bend against your teeth and you take the cheese hit directly). You can also say, "shhht, shhht" as the cheese comes out, but this is optional.

Eventually Chris decided to call it a day - he was getting dopey, so I was getting away with more aggressive inferring, which was making him nervous and grumpy. Chris asked for a ride home, but he had to use the bathroom first. No problem, I started packing up my gear while he did his thing.

And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

You start wondering what the etiquette is here - it had now been 20 minutes and no Chris - do you let him work things out or do you make sure he's ok? Would interrupting the process make things take even longer?

So, I waited. I read some bits of the books around his office. I played with his toys.

And I waited some more.

I called Alicia for advice - should I go in there? Do you think he fell asleep? Fell in? She was grossed out and no help at all.

So I just kept waiting.

Finnnnnally, *43 minutes* later, (and I remember that time exactly), Chris pops back into his office, and says, as if nothing unusual had happened, "OK, you ready to go?"

MORAL: Do NOT stay up all night feeding Chris squeeze cheese.

And, Josh, tell the story of how Chris made your cat fat...

Name: Justin Hall
Message to Chris: There's something sharp about Chris Hecker. Cutting perhaps. Ruthless honesty. With a smile! Which makes the honesty seem like an invitation.

I met Chris because I met Jen who said, "You'd get along with my boyfriend." At some point I realized that this guy was profoundly busy and overextended on about sixteen projects but he was taking all this time to dig into my potential future as a career journalist. I felt honored and confused.

It's a kind of mothering he seems to do - I shared an office with Chris, Jon Blow, Sean Barrett, and briefly, Charles Martin. The "Indie Game Barn" at Embarcadero Cove in Oakland. It was CHecker's straw nest, where he sat on each of us to incubate. I mean, it wasn't unpleasant - it was kind of hilarious - teetering stacks of decrepit video cards, boxes of dusty PC games, half-functioning hand-toys. A site of deep concentration? Unmarried white males hunched over their keyboards ostensibly working on their independent game project, but probably instead "optimizing their workflow," which meant surfing the web. Chris would storm out from his back chamber and notice us straying from our work and snap at us to continue working. Peck peck.

Chris who was probably surfing the web himself. Chris, who had to pluck his curls out from steaming bowls of Vietnamese beef soup at Pho Hoa Hiep. Chris who learned how to order and say "Thank You" in Vietnamese (roughly "Cam-on") and seemed to be flirting with just about everybody there, men and women, young and old, when he ordered or asked some cultural question, or embarassed himself, and kept talking. Flirting!

Because besides being a sort of intense nurturing, guilt-giving mother, Chris is a relentless flirt. Part of his honesty. He's attracted to people, to their ideas. And his attraction draws people out. So he's not only fun to sit with, under his intense gaze and relentless stream of conversation, but he's also amusing to watch in action. He gets intimate fast. He ups the stakes in conversations.

I came to know Chris in the basement library of some very low-hanging hotel in London. I was visiting London to check out a new game conference - instead I spent most of my time happily braindumping with Chris. A Japanese photographer showed up and he urged me to speak Japanese with her. He couldn't flirt with her, pardon me, make a connection as well as I could, so I was put up to the task of making a friend.

I left the Bay Area to attend grad school, which Chris absolutely dug into me about. I mean tooth and nail making sure that I was committed. I lost some of my dedication to attending school under his withering speculation. I wondered, why am I sitting through his razor critique and tongue-lashing for my indecision? And I realized, it was probably sado masochistic - it was probably codependent. I was a person who compulsively saught out advice, and Chris is a person who compulsively gives advice.

His flirting, his intimacy, his connections to people are often driven by his will to see a better world. To give them something to do. Perhaps, you could say, Chris works relentlessly to optimize people.

So recently I'm happy to see him almost more relaxed. Late at night over a glass of milk, he can still dig into me and my life choices. But he has lost some of his personal teeth-gnashing "I haven't shipped a game" anxiety. Because really he has nothing to be anxious about, as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps only someone who is harder on himself than he is hard on other people can achieve as I see CHecker has: smart friends, beautiful family, a steady stream of provocative ideas. A philosopher surrounded by stimulating love - congratulations for the life you've made! Thanks for working to involve so many other people.

Name: Jon Blossom
Message to Chris: Ahhh... The Early Years. Chris was so young! He had never tried dreadlocks. Wore white t-shirts and khakis almost every day.

The first WinG talk at CGDC was definitely a key moment for him and for the industry. Windows 3.1 was King. Doom was THE game, and Video for Windows sort of worked. Nobody had heard of Britney Spears OR Chris Hecker. Somehow he convinced John Carmack to let us come down for a weekend to meet the makers and port their masterpiece.. and get destroyed in a network game with John Romero. And when Doom showed up at full frame rate in a window on the Windows desktop, the crowd went wild, and Chris was an instant celebrity. Britney didn't see such applause until years later.

The WinG development process was characteristically Chris: it had absolutely nothing to do with what his bosses had asked him to work on, but he saw something important to do, ran with it, and convinced
them it was a Good Thing. Ultimately, he deserves a LOT of the credit for getting Microsoft (more or less) on the ball and launching DirectX.

Little-known insider fact: Much of the development and "planning" for WinG took place at the Denny's near Microsoft. It was the only convenient late-night place nearby, and we used to go there at least twice a week after 1am. My WinG memorabilia box includes a Denny's "Night Owl" menu... There was a troll waitress there (she had a classic diner name like Flo or Marge) who waited on us regularly - she only had eyes for Chris. We almost always ordered the Superbird, almost always ordered shakes, and I almost always felt
completely ill afterwards and swore never to do it again... Most of the WinG internal blt functions are named after Denny's menu items... Superbird, MoonsOverMyHammy, and oh so many more...

Name: Charles Bloom
Message to Chris: Chris Hecker makes me want to be a game developer.

Chris is my personal idol and role model. He has an amazing way of making you feel like you know nothing, but without making you feel bad about it. Many times I've asked Chris about some technical problem I was struggling with, and he'd just casually flip "oh that's easy, you just turn it into an LCP problem and do a big matrix solve", my head would reel and I'd think "uh, what?", but he'd take the time to patiently explain it to me, as he did for so many others.

The game development community has more open, scientific feel than any other professional software field I've ever seen. It's helped us all enormously in moving our craft forward. Many people have contributed to that spirit of helping others and sharing, (fighting the oppression of employers!), and perhaps the most significant is checker. (how many people would still have broken rastization rules?)

Name: Josh White
Message to Chris: Yes he's brilliant, as are so many in games, but none are Chris Hecker. What makes Chris so great?

1. His ridiculous level of energy
2. His insanely high expectations of all those around him
3. His total lack of fear in confrontation combined with the intellect to win almost any fight he undertakes
4. His perfect purity of intent / moral compass

Plus, he's funny as hell, incredibly good communicator, and is managing to pull of this family dad husband thing in the bargain. wow.

My Chris moments:

First meeting: Chris is re-enacting/reciting/interrupting others' recital of "The Diamond Age", in an ad lib group on the fly, just for the joy of it.

Second meeting: I really got to know Chris at my first GDC Advisory Board meeting. When we all introduced ourselves, I was nervous and everyone was sounding very professional. Chris's turn: "Hi I'm Chris Hecker and I just broke up with my girlfriend so I'm feeling totally confused and..." As I looked around at everyone else, reacting in exactly the opposite way I would imagine that kind of inappropriate behavior, I realized how special he is.

Finally, his generosity getting Lynell Jinks hired into EA is a perfect example of his purity of intent (by which I mean: he solves problems that don't benefit him). I'm glad Lynell posted about that - It was a rare and perfect move.

If you don't know Chris, there is no greater proof of Chris's brilliance and generosity than the Indie GameJam. Pure sweating brilliance, for no other reason than for the joy of it. That is exactly what is missing in the rest of high technology communities, and I think this industry owes Chris a lot more than just this prize, but it's a good start.

Congrats Chris.

Name: Lynell Jinks
Message to Chris: Checker, I should've known your crazy ass was a bad influence on me from the moment I met you when we were being chased by Security Guards through the Haunted Boiler Rooms of the Queen Mary back in 98. That's the night I became a True Game Developer.

Chris, if it weren't for you I wouldn't be where I'm at. You have believed in me from day one, you've always had my back, and have always been a true friend. Chris you have been a great Mentor to me, and I will forever be in your debt. U DA MAN!

Name: Jay Patel
Message to Chris: Chris, you're one of those annoyingly talented individuals who turns out to be rather pleasant to hang out with. Keep doing the voodoo that you do.

Name: Mark Long
Message to Chris: Chris and I started a developer's night in Seattle called Sputnik back in '94. I used to love Chris's moderated free for all debates like, which is better, Warcraft or Command and Conquer. His enthusiam for all things game inspired everyone and I learned to get in touch with my inner geek from Chris.

Name: Dominic Mallinson
Message to Chris: Chris, I'm delighted that you're getting this award - congratulations! Your enthusiasm for game development and technology is infectious and I hope this award will help you continue to spread your enthusiasm to epidemic proportions. Well done !

Name: James O'Brien
Message to Chris: Chris helped get me interested in game technology. Conversations with him have led to several great research projects... and even when they didn't, they were sill very fun conversations.

Chris, congratulations on this well deserved recognition!

Name: Patrick Wyatt
Message to Chris: Hanging out with Chris is like that old saying about drinking from a firehose; he spins out bright ideas so fast that you've got to take it all in and hope that you'll remember some part of it later, but I'm finally wise to his gig. Now when I plan on visiting that smog-ridden enclave he calls home (and I guess I can see why he's staying there given that he's living with the most brilliant, vivacious woman in the game industry -- Hi Jen), I tape a week of talk radio and play it back on the flight down from Seattle at speed so that I'm prepared for high bandwidth data assimilation. 'Course that doesn't do much for my comprehension, but I can still sound pretty intelligent when I repeat carefully chosen checker snippets verbatim to friends.

Chris, congrats on your award; you're a larger than life person who makes the game industry a better place. Whenever you finish spore, come on back to Seattle, will ya? We moved from LA to Seattle to get outta that place, what R U thinking?


Name: Stuart Denman
Message to Chris: Chris and his tangential influences and endeavors continue to inspire me and all who are most talented and influential in this industry. There are those of us who sit, heads down, at 4am greasing the wheels, and there are those of us who indirectly steer the future from afar like Gods pulling strings. Chris obviously does it all for the money. Just like all good teachers. :)

Chris, itís been an honor to get to know you and see whatís next.

Name: Jonathan Blow
Message to Chris: I have benefitted from Chris's innate desire to help others on many occasions, including but not limited to:

* The time he spent many hours teaching me how to drive (with a finicky stick shift bought from Jen as my first car).

* When I was a houseguest at his and Jen's house, just while looking around for an apartment -- a span of time that turned into, like, 5 months.

* When (not witnessed by me, just inferred) he convinced the GDC board to still have something to do with my conference submissions, even though my first lecture rated poorly.

* The time he convinced me that I should take over the Game Developer Magazine technical column. (Though maybe this was more like a Tom Sawyer fence painting kind of moment. I should be bitter! Yeah!!)

Chris deserves this award very much and it's good that he is finally getting it.

Name: Jay Stelly
Message to Chris: Since Chris is a practitioner of mathematics, science and engineering I suggest we name a unit of measure or mathematical constant after him.
Maybe the "Checker units" are a measure of conversational distance. So you could actually measure how far away from your original topic you've gone. Or maybe they are an integer that measures the maximum stack depth (because Chris will eventually return to many of the things you were talking about earlier, so keep a list (and when I say keep a list, I mean mentally not physically on a page because then you'll be writing too much and you'll never get a word in - although in some cases (by the way, don't all of these parenthesis remind you of talking to Chris?) I've seen a token passing scheme work out ok - but you have to give Chris a clear signal that it's your turn to talk for a while)) of a line of conversation. (that was 4 checker units if you're taking the test at home).

Or maybe we should be inspired by the dynamic range of the Scoville units of heat and define the "Checker constant" for a person as the number of words per minute he or she can speak multiplied by the number of people who would want to listen if they were speaking. Then we could just calculate Checker's Checker constant and set that as the theoretical maximum. I think I like that one best.

Name: Doug Sharp
Message to Chris: I first met Chris when he interviewed me for a job at Microsoft. Traumatic - the less said the better. Three months later he turned a lousy day into a great day and we became friends.

Chris and Jon Blossom and I had some great times at the Soft. Laughs and 3D penguins.

Chris and I nearly died slipping down a huge hole in the ice high in the Cascades on a foolish climb at dusk. Laughing hysterically afterwards we christened the deathtrap The Maw. On that trip I found out that Chris is remarkably old-lady like when it comes to potentially lethal improvised fireworks.

Casey and I totally triumphed over Chris by artfully trashing his apartment. Chris was so traumatized by our vandalism that he still can't talk about it.

Chris and Casey twice coded just to make an old man (me) happy. To help with a scifi story the two did a late-night jam to create a model of orbital dynamics of two tethered weights. Chris, of course, had to make it all 3D pretty. And a birthday present of an implementation of Dramaton. Swell young fellows.

Sorry I've never worked with Herr Hecker on a game. I pray he'll agree to be one of the GODZ in the GODinabox pantheon.

I always told Chris that to gain his powers someday I would kill him and eat his brain. Watch your back, Chris.

Congratulations, Chris. Love ya.

Name: Jeff Roberts Again
Message to Chris: I'm going to tell more Chris stories because, well, because I like to tell them.

Whenever Chris comes to Seattle, we usually have a dinner that turns into talking all night. I always wonder what the person next to him on the plane thinks when he barely makes it on before they shut the doors, and then this red-eyed, non-showered, crazy-haired person sits down (and then talks to them for two hours straight).

Anyway, one night Casey, Chris and I went to dinner and after Casey was dropping us off at my house so Chris could crash. So, it was about 1 am when we arrived in front of my house and by the time the we finished talking it was around 5.

But 4 hours is waaay to long for Chris to hold it - Chris pees more frequently than an 8-month along pregnant woman. Anyway, the standard thing to do - the non-Chris thing to do - since we are... *at my house*, would be for him to just run inside to go.

But Chris was so caught up in the discussion that he was afraid that he would miss something, so he gets out of the car saying, "wait for me, don't talk, wait for me, don't talk" and then walks over to a telephone pole in my yard and whips out little checker and starts peeing right there.

Now, I don't want you to get the wrong idea - he didn't climb up into a wooded area in my yard - he peed comfortably from the sidewalk. In the middle of a suburb neighborhood. German nudists have shown more modesty.

So, he's peeing and I go, "damn, at least turn off the lights, he's lit up like a fetish film." Casey flips down to the yellow parking lights, and Chris goes, "I can hear you talking, wait for me!" and turns a little bit, so that the wind catches the cloud of stream he is making, which then blows in front of the parking lights and glows all eerie-ly.

Casey turns to me and says, "now he's just trying to distract us with special effects."

Name: Dean Macri
Message to Chris: I can't remember the first time I met Chris. I know it was before the Hardcore GDC he and Jeff started, but my memory of Chris at that conference is one I won't forget. I was taking my insulin and Chris came up and said, "Hey, I just found out my cat's diabetic". He proceeded to tell me all about having to give shots to his cat and asking me a bunch of questions about diabetes.

The thing that stood out most was his humble nature and the way he genuinely was interested in what I had to say. On numerous occasions after that, Chris made it clear that he cared about people as much or more than the technology they worked on together -- a very rare breed among those as brilliant as Chris.

This is a well deserved award to someone whose contributions to graphics, physics and gaming in general are as amazing as the man himself!

Congrats, Chris!

Name: Mike Harrington
Message to Chris: What can you say about checker? The man is a force of nature. I don't know of anyone else like him. He's amazingly fun to hang with and his intensity, knowledge and passion for this industry are unrivaled.

Some days it seems like everyone I know I met through checker. Hook nailed it -- checker is the Lois Weisberg of the game industry. Even though he never actually worked at Valve, Half-Life wouldn't have been the same without checker. During the first couple of years when we were trying to get a handle on the game industry, meet and recruit people for Valve, checker's advice and introductions were awesome.

But there was a price. Chris and I both share appreciation of great food and we'd often get together in swanky restaurants in Seattle, usually wearing our normal "casual" attire. Somehow, we would always order some ridiculously expensive bottle of wine and somehow I always got stuck with the bill. But it was ok because checker was going to buy me dinner as soon as he finished his game...

Congratulations, checker!

Name: John Miles
Message to Chris: I'm pretty sure it's not a coincidence that Chris Hecker and Chuck Norris have the same number of letters in their names. I have personally witnessed him levelling a town with a mental roundhouse kick. In fact, we should all be grateful for the accident of birth that paired Chris with Gates and St. John and not Fermi and Oppenheimer. Would any of us be here today if Chris's talents had turned toward destructive ends?

Answer: damn straight, we would, because Chris isn't the second coming of Chuck Norris at all. He's more like the love child of Paul Erdos and Woody Allen. Anyone who has tried to deliver a lecture with Chris in attendance knows that if his intellect doesn't compel him to rise up and call bullshit on you, his social conscience will. I was lucky enough to meet Chris in just such a context... and smart enough to shut the hell up and stop arguing with him in front of a hundred other people. All you have to do in a situation like that is accept defeat graciously, and you'll end up looking forward to the next time you see him.

Chris doesn't suffer fools gladly, but he always leaves us alive to note our errors. What I respect the most about him is that he doesn't consider his own knowledge complete until he has used it to help someone else. We all love to give Chris a hard time about never shipping a game... but the fact is, no one can do what Chris has done for the industry just by shipping another damned game. Thanks, Chris, and don't sweat the schedule! You don't owe us a thing.

Name: Lorne Lanning
Message to Chris: Chris, may you never stop being that relentless force which continues to foster the spirit of innovation that our industry so desperately needs.

Name: Ken Demarest
Message to Chris: Chris has the double curse of caring deeply about both technology and people. Either one could be enough to absorb his intense and diverse focus, but he is doomed because he can not help switching from one to the other. Each time he switches he finds something new and attractive to focus on, because his outlook is so positive.

His human focus and pure motivation have brought incredibly positive experiences to a lot of people. For me, the creation of the IGJ gave me something I could never imagine achieving any other way.

Name: Dan Schmidt
Message to Chris: Chris is the guy who, whenever I talk about leaving the game industry, says "Are you INSANE??" For that alone he deserves my boundless gratitude.

Thanks for making everyone around you smarter and more psyched, and for teaching countless hundreds how to go to the (floating) point.

Name: Robin Hunicke
Message to Chris: I met Chris at GDC '00. He was a fast-talking blur of technical expertise, wool socks and goldilocks...
intimidating yet friendly, honest but goofy. I'm pretty sure he kicked my ass in Go.

Since that time, I've seen him deep-fry two turkeys and a chicken, talk through 60 minutes of material in a 10
minute presentation (several times, actually), shave his head, become a father, and make a transition from "indie"
to "commercial" games. And he did it all smiling - which is the most important part.


Name: Warren Spector
Message to Chris: Plenty of people have been described as "Secret Masters of Gaming," but Chris is the Master Master--the Grand Poobah--of that club. His commitment to gaming as something more than a pastime for kids is inspiring (and necessary); his energy in everything he pursues is contagious (and daunting); his commitment to excellence and innovation is challenging (and humbling). And, man, the guy's smart and articulate. All us normal folks ought to hate him, but to know Chris is to love him. Simple as that...

For a guy who, near as I can tell, has never actually, oh, you know, shipped a game, Chris's impact on our medium has been profound. And it's unclear to me that we'd actually have anything you could describe as a "development community" without him. From his days as a pioneer of Windows gaming to his efforts on behalf of the Game Developers Conference to his championing of tech communication, indie games and experimental approaches to design and development, Checker's been at the forefront of nearly every significant discussion I can think of about what games can and should be.

As a friend and advisor to many of us, he's been an inspiration (if, at times, his approach seems to have been developed after careful study of the way bits of annoying grit force oysters to create pearls!).

In closing, lest anyone think I'm just a Chris Hecker fanboy, I do have one bit of criticism to offer: I've waited patiently for far too long to play that darn rock climbing simulation Chris has been working on for, like, ever. Enough's enough. Stop basking in the glow of this well-deserved award, Chris, and get on that, will you?

Name: Brian Sharp
Message to Chris: I've only really known Chris for a handful of years, but in that time have gotten to know him in a kind of alarming number of contexts.

Throughout the late 90s, I ran into him annually at the GDC. I guess those were more like "encounters" than "meetings" in that he was always running to somewhere, talking to three people at once, or otherwise occupied in that frenetic way of his.

I didn't really get to know Chris well until I moved in with him and Jen, promising it was temporary, promising I was finding my own apartment, during the 3 months I lived in Oakland working with him at GLSetup.

2 months later I was still living with them.

During that time and the years since, I've played Counterstrike with him until 7am (to Jen's chagrin, I might add), rear-ended someone with his car, mowed his lawn, stayed with his relatives, worked on OpenGL initiatives with him, and written code of every kind with him, be it for GLSetup, the various Indie Game Jams, or--at the moment--Spore. The longer I've known him, the more I've seen him dive fully into every undertaking, generously giving his time and knowledge and unbridled enthusiasm to more tasks simultaneously than most people can even hold in their head at once.

Come to think of it, it's not clear Chris always can, either--but never for lack of trying!

My first work with physics simulation was based off of Chris's GDMag articles. Chris is the reason I know perl (though admittedly it's not clear that's really an accolade.) On top of all this, Chris is the reason I know half my industry friends!

Chris is a connector, a facilitator, and an implementor all in one.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote an excellent article long ago, before his well-known book The Tipping Point, entitled "Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg." For those unfamiliar with it, the premise was that this unassuming, petite old woman named Lois Weisberg controls all of Chicago from behind the scenes, like the Wizard of Oz, simply by introducing people to one another, seeing projects that need to happen, work that needs to take place, and ensuring that they happen, that the work gets done, doing it herself if need be.

Chris is the Lois Weisberg of the videogame industry. And while you've likely attended one of his talks, read one of his articles, or otherwise heard of or seen him, those who know him know that his, like Lois Weisberg's, is a selfless endeavor. When he gives of himself he does so in a true, straightforward manner, without secret designs on self-promotion.

This award is long overdue. Congratulations, Chris!

Name: Stephen Coy
Message to Chris: Hey Checker, I distinctly remember the first time we met. It was in the spring of '93 and I was an interview candidate at Microsoft. There you are, bare feet, khaki shorts and a plain white t-shirt asking me to write a triangle rasterizer on the white board. I must have done ok since you didn' t give me a "no hire". I later learned that the bare feet, shorts and t-shirt where your uniform at that time. You generally stuck with this not only at work but even on business trips. Ah, youth. At the time I met you were working on WinG. Are we having balloon doggy flashbacks yet? Well, just this Christmas I installed a game for my niece that installed WinG. Some things never die.

Like many of your friends I had my share of discussions with you about the great debate of the mid-90s: OpenGl vs. D3D. I guess it was just my luck that I was on the D3D team at the time. Even though you felt sure that my MS chip was already too deeply embedded to be removed by anything less than a plasma torch you still held out hope for my salvation. Such an optimist. Thinking back on it I don't recall anyone ever "winning" the discussions but, luckily, they often involved good food. Even so, I never did quite develop the same passion for foie gras that you have.

Despite all of your technical prowess whenever I hear your name I think of good food, live jazz, ficus trees and a lesson learned about how to treat the people you care about. Thank you for existing, my life is better for it.

Love ya,


Name: Zack Simpson
Message to Chris: Jennifer wants a funny story about meeting Chris. I was in Redmond working with Alex St John. I wanted to meet Chris because he had been working on WinG and I wanted to understand its place in the Window API pantheon mess... and Alex thought that Chris would want to meet someone from Origin. Alex kept trying to set up a meeting and Chris kept flaking out because, it seemed, he was spending every night playing Doom and wasn't around during the day. When we finally met he seemed very dismissive of everything I had been working on and I thought he was so rude! The next time we met, I don't remember the context, he was back to what I now know is native positive state having recovered from whatever temporary insanity Microsoft wrought on his psyche and we've been friends ever since! Chris, you're an inspriration to me in the "well, seems like it would be cool if people worked togther, why can't we just do that?" kind of attitude you have to everything. Glad they are giving you the community award, you deserve it!

Cheers, Z

Name: Kent Quirk
Message to Chris: I first met Chris back in '97, I believe, when he gave a talk on Physics at CGDC and crammed about 4 hours of content into 50 minutes. Chris, you could be the poster child for ADD...but the photo would be blurry.

Thanks for everything you've done.

Name: Jeff Lander
Message to Chris: I remember first talking to Chris on the game programming forum of compuserve back in 1996 when he was know to the community as 103044,3306. I pulled up an old email from those days and we were talking about simulating stacking bricks and hoping to get traction on biped locomotion. Here we are a decade later and we are both still talking about it to anyone who will listen.

His willingness to share with the community has truly inspired the course of my career as it has for many. I was proud to accept the IGDA award in 2002, but I always felt Chris really deserved this recognition if anyone did.

Chris, I am proud to know you as a friend and mentor.

Name: Austin Grossman
Message to Chris: There's this fusion of warm openhearted friendship and relentless critical thinking and total commitment to the medium, that Chris brings with him all the time.

As a far-flung developer/academic/whatever, Chris is one fo the people who keeps me in the fold. I'm incredibly grateful to Chris for helping make this industry a community, for making wack indie things happen, and always keeping the debate going.

Name: Chaim Gingold
Message to Chris: Congrats, Chris! This is oh so very much so oh deserved. I've learned so much from working with you.

Name: Jason Della Rocca
Message to Chris: Hmm, I can't recall when I first met Chris, but it was many years ago. It must have been during his OpenGL ranting days.

Still, I do recall strolling along one GDC (many years ago) and discovering him and Jen making out behind one of the big cement pillars in San Jose. So high school.


Beyond all the great stuff that everyone else has said, I am forever indebted to Chris for hooking me up with this crazy IGDA gig.

I still remember the first conversation I had with Jen (when she was calling to do a phone interview). Jen: Hi, I'm Jen Pahlka, I'm not sure we've actually met. Jason: Oh ya, I met you when you were done making out with Chris.

Ah, good times.

Thanks for everything Chris!


Name: David Wu
Message to Chris: To Game Programmer culture, Chris Hecker is the 21st century equivalent to Rene Descartes.

David Wu

Name: David Perry
Message to Chris: Chris,

(1) The guy that takes an interest in everyone.

(2) The guy that makes me think big, or to quote him "Dave, think BIGGER, I mean really BIG, BIG-BIG!"

(3) I think we should put his face in the Wikipedia under the word PASSION.

(4) The guy that can make a laptop last 5,000,000 hours of use.

(5) The guy that taught me how to hold a baby.

(6) The guy that works harder for this industry more than anyone (but Jen) will ever know.

Cheers mate!

David Perry.

Name: Steve Theodore
Message to Chris: A last bastion of enthusiasm in a business drowning in ennui.

You go boy!

Name: Kim Pallister
Message to Chris: Chris is being awarded this for his long list of contributions to the community, the industry, and the medium. GDMag articles, GDC classes, the 'Hardcore GDC' events, and the momentous Indie Game Jam.

He's perhaps even better known for his decade-long tirade of ball-busting rants (from OpenGL to multi-core-console to innovation-related).

The truth, however, is that Chris is really getting this for incessantly infecting anyone within a 10' radius with his unwavering intensity and passion.

Can't think of anyone I'd rather see get the award, Chris. Congrats!

Name: Jeff Roberts
Message to Chris: I think I really got to know Chris best when he asked John Miles and I to drive him home once from dinner. John's Ferrari was only a two seater though, so Chris had to sit on my lap all the way through Seattle.

There are things two men share when driving through Seattle on each other's lap that can't be unshared. I guess you'd say I got to know myself that day too.

In any case, Chris receiving this award is long, long overdue. He shouldn't just win it this year, but every year, and I look forward to the day when it is correctly named after him. I don't know anyone who does as much for our community as he does, and it makes me happy knowing he is finally being recognized for it.

Name: Phil Harrison
Message to Chris: Chris of so many talents. Best of all, he shares his ideas willingly with others. That's a great gift to give to a community.

Name: Kathy Schoback
Message to Chris: GDC 1999, Shigeru Miyamoto keynote. Jennifer Pahlka onstage at the Civic, proudly introducing Miyamoto. Chris Hecker, standing in the wings and seeing no one but Jen, can only say "Isn't she beautiful?"

Congrats Checker.

Name: Brian Hook
Message to Chris: Chris, I still love you, even though you never call. You are, quite easily, the best game developer that hasn't actually shipped a game in the history of gaming. UR TEH AWSOM

Name: Mark DeLoura
Message to Chris: Chris is a goddamn opinionated bastard and I can never get a word in edgewise with him because he's so full of ideas and theories that they spill out all over the place like someone shook up a Jolt cola before they poured it into his cranium.

That's one of the things that makes him uniquely Chris, and such a great guy - he never holds back with his expertise or his connections, and he'll tell you exactly what you need to do, where you need to go, or who you need to talk with in order to find exactly what you're looking for. Thanks Chris!!

Name: Jennifer Pahlka
Message to Chris: All this gratitude and respect is lovely but someone tell a funny story about how they met Chris or something

Name: Michael Abrash
Message to Chris: Chris, you've brought a unique combination of technical excellence, community awareness, writing and speaking skills, and the willingness to share your ideas to the game industry. Keep up the great work!

Name: Chris Charla
Message to Chris: Sean Barrett already said what I was going to! Chris, your contribution to games is nothing less than stunning! Thank you!

Name: Sean Barrett
Message to Chris: Never in the field of video game development was so much owed by so many to so singular a person.

Name: Harvey Smith
Message to Chris: Stay true to the vision, Checker.

Name: Chris Butcher
Message to Chris: Onwards and upwards, my friend, through the efforts of hardworking souls like yourself. Thanks for everything.

Name: Bob King
Message to Chris: I'm proud of Jen's hubby, too. Congratulations, Chris! Well deserved!

Name: Alan Yu
Message to Chris: Checker, v. proud of you and your work and v. happy to have benefitted from your beneficence personally and professionally. Congratulations, my friend.