John Vechey, Jason Kapalka and Brian Fiete, PopCap Games co-founders. (PopCap photo)

More than a decade ago, in the middle of the dot-com bust, John Vechey, Jason Kapalka and Brian Fiete founded PopCap Games and debuted their first puzzle game, which came to be known as Bejeweled.

Yep, that turned out pretty well.

Millions upon millions of jewels and zombies later, the sale of PopCap to Electronic Arts for as much as $1.3 billion this summer was one of the biggest news stories of 2011 in the Seattle region’s technology industry. And we’re pleased to name the three PopCap co-founders to our list of GeekWire’s Newsmakers of the Year for 2011.

We’ll be spotlighting all of our Newsmakers on GeekWire over the next month, leading up to the GeekWire Gala on Dec. 8. Many of them (including the PopCap guys) will be joining us and the rest of the tech community that night to mark another remarkable year of news. We’ll also be looking ahead to the upcoming year with a special GeekWire 2012 Calendar that we’ll be giving to everyone who comes.

With the PopCap deal, there’s still some drama left to play out. The acquisiton was structured so that the acquisition price will range between $750 million and $1.3 billion, depending on how the Seattle company performs under the EA umbrella.

“These guys are the Pixar of the casual (games) space,” said EA executive Barry Cottle about PopCap after the acquisition was announced.

PopCap remains based in Seattle as part of Electronic Arts. “Their commitment to growing PopCap is gigantic, so I think that we’re going to be a growing company in Seattle for many, many years to come,” said PopCap co-founder Vechey at the time. “I’m pretty excited about that.”

Newsmakers at the GeekWire Gala

We’ll be recognizing the PopCap co-founders and more than 20 other Newsmakers of 2011 during the GeekWire Gala, Dec. 8 at the Great Hall at Seattle’s Union Station.

The night is also a celebration of “Geeks who Give Back,” recognized in a special GeekWire 2012 Calendar that will be given to attendees, with a share of sponsorship proceeds going to the Child’s Play charity.

Tickets available here.

Thanks to sponsors ZillowFilter and Barokas for helping to make this night happen.

Contact Rebecca Lovell, rebecca@geekwire.com, for sponsorship opportunities.

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