Think Services, organizer of the Game Developers Conference (GDC), is pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the 2009 Independent Games Festival (IGF). Submissions to the 11th annual festival are due by November 2008, with finalists to be announced January 5th.

Games selected as finalists will available in playable form on the GDC show floor and will compete for nearly $50,000 in prizes, including awards for Innovation, Excellence in Design, and the coveted $20,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

Winners will be announced on stage at the prestigious Independent Games Festival Awards on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The Independent Games Festival Awards are held along the Game Developers Choice Awards and both award shows are part of the 2009 Game Developers Conference.

Over the past few years, the Independent Games Festival has helped guide the rise of the indie game scene by honoring and popularizing the best and brightest independent developers and their games. Former IGF winners include Everyday Shooter, Audiosurf, and World of Goo.

Notable evolutions to this year’s festival include:

- A number of new IGF judges, including Spore designer Chaim Gingold, World Of Goo co-creator Kyle Gabler, The Sims Studio head Rod Humble, Civilization IV co-creator Soren Johnson, Rock Paper Shotgun co-founder Jim Rossignol, and Crayon Physics author Petri Purho.

- Returning IGF judges include independent game creators Jon Blow (Braid), Raigan Burns (N+), and Derek Yu (Aquaria), game industry veterans Brian Reynolds (Big Huge Games), Chris Rausch (SuperVillain Studios), and Chris Charla (Foundation9), and journalists N’Gai Croal (Newsweek), Chris Kohler (Wired News), and Stephen Totilo (MTV News). The full list of judges will be announced in the near future.

- In addition to the $20,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize and the awards for audio, art direction, design and technology, the IGF is presenting a new Innovation Award in the Main Competition. This new award is intended to honor abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development, allowing more esoteric ‘art games’ to compete on their own terms alongside longer-form indie titles.

“We’re delighted to welcome a new cadre of judges, alongside categories that encourage even greater experimentalism and innovation, to our industry-leading indie game competition”, said Simon Carless, Chairman of the IGF. “We’re very much looking forward to see what you crazy independent developers come up with this time round.”

Submissions to the competition are now open to all independent game developers; important dates for IGF 2009 are as follows:

July 1st, 2008 - Submissions are Open
November 1st, 2008 - Submission Deadline, Main Competition
November 15th, 2008 - Submission Deadline, Student Competition
January 5th, 2009 - Finalists Announced, Main Competition
January 19th, 2009 - Finalists Announced, Student Competition
March 23rd-27th, 2009 - Game Developer’s Conference 2009
March 25th-27th, 2009 - IGF Pavilion @ GDC
March 25th, 2009 - 2009 IGF Awards Ceremony

For a complete list of IGF 2008 event information, please visit the official Independent Games Festival website.