Tim Sweeney, founder and chief executive officer of Epic Games, will be the newest inductee into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. Epic Games is the home of the seminal Unreal Engine and game franchises including Unreal Tournament and Gears of War.

“Tim’s vision has changed the face of gaming with the advent of the Unreal Engine and the commitment of Epic, as a studio, to bring both consumer and industry-facing technology to new heights,” said Martin Rae, president of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. “We’re honored to add Tim Sweeney to our Hall of Fame. His unrelenting and innovative work on behalf of developers and gamers has created the imaginative games that help to drive the success of our industry.”

Sweeney, who founded Epic Games in 1991, wrote the first iteration of the Unreal Engine, an integrated toolset that was released along with the first Epic Games title in the franchise in 1998. It changed the trajectory of the games industry by incorporating independent processes including AI, rendering and collision detection into an easily modified package that encouraged and inspired professional, independent and hobbyist developers to build their own creations.

Under his leadership, Epic Games grew from early successes like Jill of the Jungle and Epic Pinball to blockbuster hits including Gears of War and Unreal Engine 3. Epic’s blockbuster Gears of War series has won more than 50 game of the year awards and has sold more than 17 million copies.

The 2012 Hall of Fame Award will be presented by Epic Games vice president Mark Rein at the 15th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards on Feb. 9, 2012 in Las Vegas. The event will be hosted by Jay Mohr, actor, comedian and gamer.

“I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside Tim Sweeney for nearly 20 years. Many people in the game industry are aware of what a brilliant technical visionary he is, but what they might not realize is that he is also a great leader and thinks deeply about how to use technology to empower artists and creatives to be successful and realize their vision – not only at Epic but around the world in the studios who license our Unreal Engine technology,” remarked Mark Rein, vice president, Epic Games. “Tim’s sense of fairness and doing what’s right, not just for Epic but for the industry as a whole, is also what makes him so admired among the people who know him. I am very proud to call him my friend and mentor, and am thrilled that I will be able to present this well-deserved award to him. I wish everyone in the industry could know Tim as I do.”

Epic Games is headquartered in Cary, NC. Its external studios are: People Can Fly in Warsaw, Poland; Chair Entertainment in Salt Lake City, Utah; Epic Games China in Shanghai; Epic Games Korea in Seoul; and Epic Games Japan in Tokyo.