Winter is nearly here, and that means the 2018 Independent Games Festival is about to enter its jurying phase — the period in which experts in specific disciplines play, evaluate and discuss the most notable games of the nearly 600 entered in the 2018 Festival Competition, which together continue to push the boundaries of video game development and design.
This year the list of experts tasked with evaluating IGF 2018’s most promising entries is once again studded with game industry luminaries. Now that hundreds of evaluators have conducted the first round of IGF judging, these expert juries will convene to determine the finalists and winners of the various IGF 2018 awards at the 2018 Game Developers Conference.
To recognize their contributions to the process, today we’d like to celebrate those who have volunteered their time and talent to take part in judging the Excellence in Visual Arts Award, the Excellence in Narrative Award, and the Nuovo Award.
The Excellence in Visual Arts Award
The Visual Art award seeks to celebrate the highlights of innovation and quality in visuals for independent games, and its jury for 2018 is made up of the following experts:
- Dorian Dutrieux – Dorian is an artist, designer, and occasionally, producer who most recently worked on Shattered Realms with Kopskop Games. They’ve been in independent games for 10 years, with the bulk of that time as either lead artist or art director.
- Chandana Ekanayake – Art Director and Game Designer at Uber Entertainment working on VR games Wayward Sky and Dino Frontier.
- Jane Ng – Jane is currently the lead artist at Campo Santo. Her credits include Firewatch, The Cave, Stacking, Brutal Legend, Spore and The Godfather.
- Orsi Spanyol – Started her career as one of three main artists on the critically acclaimed puzzle game The Witness, and also designed several puzzles for the game. Currently the Art Director at Thekla Inc., working on some new things.
- Jesse “The Drawbarian” Turner – Artist at Klei Entertainment. Drawing for a while.
- Laura Yilmaz – Laura Yilmaz is an animation & art director specializing in 2D illustrative work. Her career spans commercial work, television, music videos, and most recently games, which she views as a medium ripe for visual experimentation. Laura is also an adjunct professor of animation at the University of Southern California in LA, where she lives with her husband and two ungrateful cats.
The Excellence in Narrative Award
The Narrative award is meant to recognize quality and impressiveness of storytelling in a game – including, but not limited to, scenario, plot construction, story, dialogue, and other major factors. The jury tasked with awarding it in 2018 is as follows:
- Rayna Anderson – Rayna Anderson is a Senior Narrative Designer with a background in psychology who has spent more than a decade writing and designing games. Currently at Eidos-Montréal, most recently she worked on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Deus Ex GO.
- Sam Barlow – Creator of the award winning Her Story and the forthcoming Telling Lies for Annapurna.
- Kristina Drzaic – Kristina Drzaic is a narrative designer, writer, and master of videogame secrets. She is best known for her work on Halo 5: Guardians, BioShock Infinite, and Galak-Z. Currently she is developing secret projects at Twitch.
- Rob Dubbin – Rob Dubbin is the CEO of Scripto, a company that makes collaborative software for television shows. Previously he wrote for the Late Show, won four Emmys as a writer at The Colbert Report, and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 IGF for a DOS game called International Jetpack Conference. He has written games criticism for Kill Screen, The Awl, and The New Yorker dot com, and has also written a small army of Twitter bots.
- Kinmoku – Kinmoku is an award-winning independent games developer aiming to create narrative-driven experiences that are both intimate and meaningful. Their first game, the popular visual novel One Night Stand, was released on PC, Mac and Linux in 2016 and nominated for Excellence in Narrative at IGF 2017.
- Christine Love – Christine Love writes narrative games about queerness and technology, and believes strongly in the power of cuteness and sincerity. Her most recent game is Ladykiller in a Bind.
- Andrew Plotkin – Andrew Plotkin has been playing interactive fiction since there were home computers, and tried writing some shortly thereafter. He now helps run an IF non-profit foundation and plays with other narrative game ideas.
The Nuovo Award
Now in its ninth year running, the Nuovo Award is intended as a celebration of more esoteric and artful games. The Nuovo jury for IGF 2018 will include the following members:
- Pippin Barr – Pippin Barr makes videogames that ask questions about contemporary art, violence, self-loathing, saxophone playing, airplane safety, the aesthetics of water shaders, the future of work, and more. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University in Montréal and is the Associate Director of the Technoculture, Art, and Games (TAG) Lab in the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology.
- Chris Bell – Chris Bell is a Boston-born game designer living in Los Angeles. His games include Journey, Way (IGF 2012), and this year’s surreal anthology, What Remains of Edith Finch. He is now creating Twelve Minutes, a time-loop home invasion thriller, as well as other new projects.
- Zuraida Buter – Playful Culture Curator at zo-ii, curating projects such as Incubate Arcade and Screenshake. She is also co-founder of the Playful Arts Festival and was previously involved in the Global Game Jam as executive director.
- Adriaan de Jongh – Adriaan is a game designer best known for the indie game hit Hidden Folks, a hand-drawn interactive searching game, and for IGF-nominated games like Bounden and Fingle, which move people out of the normal space of videogames by challenging players to dance, hold hands, and share physical interactions. He also has an awkward signature dance which he’ll perform with every opportunity presented.
- Marie Foulston – Curator of Videogames for the V&A museum in London and co-founder of UK independent videogame collective The Wild Rumpus.
- Ichiro Lambe – Ichiro is Founder and President of Dejobaan Games, LLC, an independent Boston-area game development studio. He’s worked in the industry since 1992, co-founding Worlds Apart Productions (later Sony Online Entertainment Denver) in 1995.
- Sos Sosowski -Mad scientist of video games. Creator of McPixel, Thelemite and many other games noone’s ever heard of. Addicted to game jams, formerly a teacher. Currently working on Mosh Pit Simulator.
Of course, all entries in the 2018 Independent Games Festival are currently browsable at the IGF’s official site. Competition finalists will be announced early next year, with the winners announced on the evening of March 21st at the (livestreamed!) IGF Awards ceremony during GDC 2018.