Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong and other hit video games, on Wednesday won Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias Prize.
The jury praised the 59-year-old Japanese game designer for turning video games into "a medium capable of bringing people together regardless of sex, age or social or cultural status."
"Noted for excluding violence from his creations, Miyamoto has revolutionized the industry," the jury said in a statement as it bestowed the award for communications and humanities.
Miyamoto has created over 100 games and is widely seen as the world's most influential games designer. He was named "most influential man in the world" by Time magazine readers in 2007.
He has been described as the Stephen Spielberg of the game world for his visionary designs, and Super Mario Bros has been rated as the bestselling game of all time, with more than 40 million copies sold worldwide.
Born in Sonobe in Kyoto, Miyamoto joined Nintendo in 1977 after studying industrial design.
A lover of both design and music, his first success was in 1981 with the launch of Donkey Kong, in which a scaffold-climbing carpenter rescues a young woman from a gorilla.
In 1986 he came up with The Legend of Zelda.
Described as a high fantasy action adventure game involving the constant rescue of Princess Zelda, Miyamoto was inspired by the lakes, caves and forests around his house where he would spend hours playing.
The Asturias Foundation annually hands out eight awards, each worth 50,000 euros ($64,000), in the fields of communication and humanities, scientific and technical research, social science, arts, letters, international cooperation, understanding and sport.
Named after Crown Prince Felipe, the awards are presented in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, capital of the northern Asturias region, in a glittering ceremony broadcast live on Spanish television.
Previous winners of the communications and humanities prize have included the Internet search engine Google, the National Geographic Society and Cable News Network (CNN).
Last year the prize went to Britain's centuries-old science institute The Royal Society.
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