"It's no exaggeration to say that John Carmack and id Software have had a monumental influence on all modern 3D games, but especially the first-person shooter genre," said GDC event director Meggan Scavio. "John is one of the key figures in the history of video games, and we're delighted to be giving him the Lifetime Achievement award this year."
Carmack-devised engines have powered id's games all the way from the 2D platformer Commander Keen and the revolutionary first-person shooter Wolfenstein 3D, through the iconic Doom and varied Quake series all the way to id's upcoming Rage. Dozens of games from Anachronox to Half-Life have licensed these engines.
Carmack engines have also shaped gaming as we know it with robust support for user-created mods from Doom onwards, from simple custom levels to essentially whole new games. Team Fortress notably started life as a Quake mod and Counter-Strike creator Minh 'Gooseman' Le started modding with Navy SEALs for Quake.
Amateur developers have also benefited from id's policy of releasing the engine source code for its older games, with the engines from Wolfenstein 3D through to Quake 3 now open to anyone who wishes to tinker under the hood, resulting in stand-alone mods, engine overhauls, free indie games and even neurological research on mice.
The decision was made by a panel of industry figures including BioWare CEO Ray Muzyka, Deus Ex lead designer Harvey Smith, Ben Cousins of EA DICE, PopCap co-founder John Vechey and Far Cry 2 creative director Clint Hocking.
Carmack will be presented with the award by Will Wright during the 2010 Games Developers Conference at a ceremony on March 11 hosted by System Shock producer and Deus Ex creative director Warren Spector.
This ceremony will also see Valve Software's Gabe Newell receiving this year's Pioneer Award and the Ambassador Award going to Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik and Robert Khoo of Penny Arcade, as well as the unveiling of the other Game Developers Choice Awards winners.