Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong and other hit video games, won a top Spanish prize Wednesday for "revolutionising" the industry.
The jury of Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias Prize conferred a €50 000 ($64 000) award for communications and humanities on the 59-year-old Miyamoto.
The jury praised the Japanese game designer for "excluding violence from his creations" and turning video games into "a medium capable of bringing people together regardless of sex, age or social or cultural status".
The award is one of eight given in different fields by the Asturias Foundation each year. In addition to the cash, winners receive a sculpture designed by the late Catalan artist Joan Miro.
Miyamoto has created over 100 games and is widely seen as the world's most influential games designer.
Described as the Steven Spielberg of the game world for his visionary designs, his video game Mario Bros is the most sold video game in history with sales of 275 million copies worldwide, including over 40 million copies of Super Mario Bros.
Miyamoto is responsible for one of the first popular videogames made entirely in 3D - Super Mario 64 - as well as the first console with two separate screens, one of which is a touchscreen - the Nintendo DS.
Among his other creations is the Wii Fit home exercise game and Wii Music, a music game.
"With these creations, he has converted the video game into a social revolution and has managed to popularise it among a sector of the population that had not previously accessed this kind of entertainment," the jury said.
"Noted for excluding violence from his creations, Miyamoto has revolutionised the industry," it added in a statement.
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 communication and humanities prize is awarded to an individual or institution whose work "represents a significant contribution to universal culture".
Previous winners of the prize have included the internet search engine Google, the National Geographic Society and Cable News Network (CNN).
Last year it was awarded to Britain's centuries-old science institute The Royal Society.
Miyamoto was one of 21 candidates from 11 countries in the race for the prize this year.
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.