About The Independent Games Festival & Summit
IndieGames.com is presented by the CMP Game Group, which runs the Independent Games Festival & Summit every year at Game Developers Conference. We established the Independent Games Festival in 1998 to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best indie game developers, after we saw how the Sundance Film Festival benefited the independent film community.
We wanted to create a similar event to Sundance for independent game developers - and that's just what we've succeeded in doing with the Independent Games Festival, which has awarded hundred of thousands of dollars in cash prizes (and brought major exposure and a much higher profile) to a multitude of indie and student game developers who enter. There are four main elements to the Festival itself:
- The Independent Games Festival Pavilion
Located on the show floor at Game Developers Conference, and open to any members of the public or game professionals who have bought an Expo Pass to the show or above, the IGF Pavilion showcases every single finalist for that year's Festival in playable form. Members of the development team for each IGF finalist are on hand to discuss and demonstrate the title and talk to top game publishers and distributors attending the show.
- The Independent Games Festival Awards
The IGF Awards take place on the Wednesday evening of Game Developers Conference, and are a major celebration of the best in indie gaming, with thousands watching the awards presentation before the Game Developer's Choice Awards are presented. The 2007 IGF Awards, including custom interstitials featuring Telltale's Sam & Max, are available for online viewing. All GDC visitors can attend the awards.
- The Independent Games Summit
The Independent Games Summit seeks to highlight the brightest and the best of indie development, with discussions ranging from indie game distribution methods through game design topics, guerrilla marketing concepts, student indie game discussions. The first IGS event occurred on the first two days of GDC 2007, with Llamasoft legend Jeff Minter as the keynote speaker, and another Summit occurred at GDC 2008.
- Independent Games Festival Mobile
New for 2008, IGF Mobile is a new contest set up to promote innovation in portable games, from cellphone games through other mobile devices to PSP and DS titles. There are plenty of unique mobile-specific possibilities for games, and we're excited to help honor them - prizes for the first year totaled $20,000, and entries were from any mobile devices, including phones, the DS, and the PSP.
"The Independent Games Festival, for me, stands for a number of things: the celebration and recognition of the achievements of independent developers, the legitimacy of independent gaming, and a high mark that we can all aim for as creative people."
- Derek Yu, Bit-Blot (Aquaria)
- Independent Games Festival Prizes
The main Independent Games Festival competition gives out seven major awards at its ceremony, next to be held in March 2009 at GDC 2009 in San Francisco, as follows:
Seumas McNally Grand Prize ($20,000)
Excellence In Visual Art ($2,500)
Excellence In Audio ($2,500)
Innovation Award ($2,500)
Technical Excellence ($2,500)
Best Web Browser Game ($2,500)
Audience Award ($2,500)
In addition, the IGF's Student Showcase competition, which is the premiere competition highlighting the top student-created indie games, also gives out the following awards each year:
IGF Student Showcase Winner (Twelve winners, $500)
Best Student Game ($2,500)
The Independent Games Festival competitions have a diverse, leading set of judges which include representatives from the mainstream game industry, the press, significant independent gaming websites, and previous winners and finalists, as well as a number of indie veteran judges from the previous IGF judging pool.
"The IGF has captured my attention for quite a few years now (before I really thought about making games myself). It's a couple of
things - a showcase of some great games, many of which are novel or experimental in nature, a place for developers to meet each other, and also a competition, which I think is quite motivational! (although maybe that's just stating the obvious). I think it's got the right balance between novel/bizarre games and slightly larger/commercially-successful ones (which might help bring media attention to all indie games)."
- Peter Stock (Armadillo Run)
IGF Success Stories
Since the Independent Games Festival & Summit started, there have been multiple major IGF prizewinners that have gone on to much larger exposure, garnering increased distribution, a bigger profile, and getting lots more gamers playing their art. Here are some of the highlights:
1999 - Vicarious Visions, now a major handheld / console developer, honored for Terminus.
2003 - Super X Studios' Wild Earth, a photographic game based around a worldwide safari, takes multiple prizes and subsequently becomes a motion simulator ride and a retail PC game.
2005 - Fan favorite N wins the audience award. N+ is currently announced as in development for Xbox 360 Live Arcade, Nintendo DS, and Sony PSP.
2005 - Multi award-winner Alien Hominid receives publishing deals in the U.S. (via O3 Publishing) and Europe(via Zoo Digital), much critical acclaim, and even spawns mobile and Xbox Live Arcade versions.
2006 - Grand prize winner Darwinia gets both digital distribution via Valve's Steam system and U.S. retail distribution from new indie label Cinemaware Marquee.
2007 - Design Innovation winner Everyday Shooter is signed by Sony for distribution on the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Network, after Sony's John Hight plays the game at the IGF Pavilion during GDC 2007 - Everyday Shooter's Jon Mak also appears at the inaugural Independent Games Summit.
2008 - The team behind IGF Student Showcase finalist Narbacular Drop is hired by Valve. The game is reworked into Portal and goes on to win the coveted Game Developer's Choice "Best Game" award for 2008, as well as numerous game of the year accolades.
2008 - Design Innovation winner Braid is slated for an early 2008 release on Microsoft's XBLA service.
2008 - Excellence in Audio winner Audiosurf launches on Valve's Steam distribution service and goes on to become the highest selling game of February, outselling even Valve's own Orange Box (including Team Fortress 2 and Game Developer's Choice "Best Game" winner Portal.)
"I've never been around a group of more passionate, creative, intelligent, funny, and thoughtful people in my entire life as I was at the Independent Games Summit. IGS for me is all about people. The panels are very informative, but the best thing I took out of it were my discussions with indie game fans and developers, both in and out of the conference rooms. It was like being wrapped in a warm unicorn rainbow of brotherhood (and sisterhood)."
- Derek Yu, Bit-Blot (Aquaria)