The classic game festival – the largest in Europe – is set to be held again in Bilbao from 25- 28 November, and it has already confirmed one of this year’s honorary awards to be received at the traditional Prize-Giving Gala at the Guggenheim Museum.

The first award to have been announced this year will go to the American game designer Warren Spector, the well-known producer and designer of video games like System Shock, Deus Ex and Thief: The Dark Project and one of the pioneers of an industry in which he has worked for more 30 years.

In 1994, System Shock changed the rules of first-person video games. With a fresh, original mix of action and role-playing, for the first time in history it gave players freedom to solve problems in their own way, creating a unique gaming experience for each player, something totally new at a time when gaming was a much more linear experience. Warren Spector’s creation spearheaded the industry and later inspired his other games such as Deus Ex and the BioShock saga.

In recent years Spector has been the Director of the University of Texas’ video game development programmes, while fostering the creation of the video game archive of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. He has also been an executive member of the International Game Developers Association and Co-Director of its Education Committee, forging positive relationships between the video game industry and academic institutions worldwide.

In 2012 he won the prestigious Game Developers Choice Award and received an honorary doctorate from Chicago’s Columbia College for his past contribution to the digital entertainment industry. A retrospective exhibition of his work and career was shown at the Smithsonian Institution. Indefatigable, he is currently engaged in developing System Shock 3.

The Fun & Serious Festival rewards his enormous contribution to gaming theory and the immersive design philosophy, along with his constant promotion of the cultural importance of this industry.

In the words of the Fun & Serious Festival’s Director, Alfonso Gómez: “We’re proud to announce that one of our honorary awards at the 6th Fun & Serious Game Festival will go to Warren Spector. Mr. Spector has been a leading figure in game development for the last 30 years and has made one of the biggest contributions to the groundwork for what makes this cultural industry so great today. The fact that he and many other hugely prestigious figures will be coming to Bilbao boosts the Festival’s importance in the gaming world, making the Fun & Serious Game Festival an international benchmark and a not-to-miss event for the big stakeholders in this sector.”

As well as attending the gala to pick up his award, Warren Spector has also confirmed that on November 26 he will be taking part in the VIT Talks, a series of expert talks and lectures on video games, trends and innovation forming part of the festival. He will recap on his career and explain the development of his latest project, System Shock 3.

Year after year, the Fun & Serious Festival has become a major meeting point for the industry, clearly aiming to elevate video games to the category of art in the same way as films or music, giving the due importance to a sector which achieved a turnover of €1.083bn in 2015 and continues to grow over time.