The Independent Games Festival has announced the eight Student Showcase winners for the 16th annual presentation of its prestigious awards, celebrating the brightest and most innovative creations to come out of universities and games programs from around the world in the past year.
This year's showcase of top student talent include the open-world cowboy whodunit Westerado from Dutch student developers Ostrich Banditos, the forced perspective puzzle game Museum of Simulation Technology from a student at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center, and strikingly topical co-op hacker game Cyber Heist, a game from students at the University of Utah which challenges a devious Thief/Hacker duo to work together and take down the U.S. Department of Education in 2114, eliminating student debt forever.
In total, this year's Student Competition took in nearly 350 game entries across all platforms -- PC, console and mobile -- from a wide diversity of the world's most prestigious universities and games programs, making the Student IGF one of the world's largest showcases of student talent.
All Student Showcase winners' games announced today will be playable on the Expo show floor at the 28th Game Developers Conference, to be held in San Francisco starting March 17th, 2014. Each team will receive a $1,000 prize and two All-Access passes to the show, plus five Expo Passes, for being selected into the Showcase. All Showcase teams are also finalists for an additional $2,000 prize for Best Student Game, to be revealed during the Independent Games Festival Awards on March 19th.
The full list of Student Showcase winners for the 2014 Independent Games Festival, along with 'honorable mentions' to those top-quality games that didn't quite make it to finalist status, are as follows:
Museum of Simulation Technology (Albert Shih - Carnegie Mellon University, Entertainment Technology Center)
Engare (Mahdi Bahrami & Moslem Rasouli - NHTV University of Applied Science)
Risk of Rain (Hopoo Games - University of Washington)
Symmetrain (Philipp Beau & Daniel Goffin - University of Amsterdam / University Kassel)
Westerado (Ostrich Banditos - HKU)
Rhythm Doctor (Hafiz Azman & Winston Lee - University of Cambridge)
Foiled (Unblanched Peanuts - NYU)
Cyber Heist (Hack n' Hide - University of Utah)
Honorable mentions: Ladylike (Nina Freeman, Emmett Butler, David Coss & Winnie Song - NYU, NYU Poly); UN EP (Ian Snyder - Kansas City Art Institute); Rabbit Rush (Caterpillar Lane - RMIT); Flying Fish (The Grey Room - The Academy of Interactive Entertainment); and Bokida (Rice Cooker Republic - Institut de Creation et d'Animation Numeriques).
This year's Student IGF entries were distributed to an opt-in subset of the main competition judging body, consisting of more than 375 leading independent and mainstream developers, academics and journalists.
Now in its 12th year as a part of the larger Independent Games Festival, the Student Showcase highlights up-and-coming talent from worldwide university programs, and has served as the venue which first premiered numerous now-widely-recognized names including DigiPen's Narbacular Drop and Tag: The Power of Paint, which evolved into Valve's award-winning titles Portal and Portal 2.
Other notable Student Showcase alums include USC/Giant Sparrow's Unfinished Swan, later released by Sony Computer Entertainment as an award-winning title for PlayStation Network; Hogeschool van de Kunsten's The Blob (later becoming THQ's De Blob); and early USC/ThatGameCompany title Cloud, from the studio that would go on to develop critical darlings like Flow, Flower, and Journey.
For more information on the Independent Games Festival, for which Main Competition finalists were also just announced, please visit the official IGF website -- and for those interested in registering for GDC 2014, which includes the Independent Games Summit, the IGF Pavilion and the IGF Awards Ceremony, please visit the Game Developers Conference website.
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