Letter From The Chairman: Welcome Back For IGF 2012

the announcement of the 2012 Independent Games Festival competition,
IGF Chairman Brandon Boyer goes in-depth on the changes made for this year’s Festival, examining the ethos for the competition and the shifts in policy and rules for this year’s 14th annual IGF experience.]

Well, we made it unscathed through that lucky-13th, and here we are
again, back where we started, with the opening of the 14th year of the
Independent Games Festival. Last year’s festival was a landmark one on a
number of levels.

It was the first that folded the IGF Mobile into the main
competition, the first where one of the entrants (and the eventual Grand
Prize winner) surprised everyone (the developers included!) by selling
several hundred thousand copies of their game before judging had even
begun, our first with a new two-tier judge and jury system, and,
obviously, my first year as chairman.

I learned a lot about the festival and how it operates and how it
could better be improved over the past year. So I’m here now to outline
some of the changes we’ll be implementing this year, as the IGF, its
role in the community, and the community itself grows and evolves. But
we’ll start with one aspect of the festival that we won’t be changing:

The IGF will continue to utilize its two-tier judge and jury system.

the conversations I’ve had over the past several months, nearly
everyone involved — from the judges and jurors themselves to the
individual entrants to those of us organizing the festival — felt like
the change to this system was an incredibly important and positive

The two-tier system – with our 150-200 judges recommending games in
certain categories, and discipline-specific juries of 8-10 subject
matter experts assigned to each award, ensured that all games in the
festival got an equal chance at making it into the finalist round.

With more eyes than ever on each entry, and each jurist chosen for their specific professional merits for each category (our list of 2011 jurors is available here), experts were able to make a strong case for any game, whether it gathered an initial popular vote or not.

It also meant that our finalist and winner selection was less of a
binary process, and more of a conversation about the deeper merits of
the games and their place and legacy in the independent game community.
Those intimate conversations were a passionate, productive, valuable
look at the pulse of professional indie developers, as you can read in
our Nuovo jury comments and Main Competition jury statements, and we’re looking forward to those conversations again this year.

As for things we will be changing, we’ll start here:

IGF Winner awards will be increasing across nearly all categories.

2012hels.jpgWe increased a few of the finalist number and dollar amounts for IGF 2011, and we’re doing so a little more broadly in 2012.
The Seumas McNally Grand Prize will now include a $30,000 cash prize,
50% more than previously, and all category winners have been increased
to a $3,000 cash prize. All, that is, except for the Nuovo Award, which
will remain at the same $5,000 as last year, continuing our increased
focus on experimentation and alternate game approaches in the IGF.

The full breakdown of all the awards received by both IGF finalists and IGF category and Grand Prize winners can be seen on our Awards page.

We’re taking gradual steps to limit prior finalists from re-entering the same game.


One of my strongest beliefs is that none of us here at the IGF should
act as gate-keepers, rejecting developers as they file in to enter
their games, for any reason. I believe that’s one of the strengths and
the best utilizations of our judge and jury system, allowing the
community to set its own tone for the outcome of the festival.

That said, we would like to see the games coming into the festival being prepared for
the festival, just as it operates in other creative fields. While some
IGF finalists have gone on to win IGF awards when entered in a more
complete state, we’re making an official stance that finalists of IGF
2012 will be discouraged from re-entering their game in 2013.

The idea is to leave those finalist slots (not to mention judge &
jury assignments) open for new works. As this is a transitional year,
2011 finalists will not be discouraged from re-entering any games — we
only add that we’re all looking forward to seeing new creations each
year, and hope that you, the developers, are confident that your game
will shine through amongst the other entries. And finally…

We’re working on solutions to improve communication on all levels for IGF 2012.

of my biggest frustrations over-seeing last year’s festival and its
record 670-plus entries was the sense that once a developer enters a
game, they lack information on the progress of the judging. More than a
few times I know I told individual entrants that the less they heard,
the more that meant that things were actually going well, but I don’t
think that’s the way it should have to be.

So we’re intending to implement more updates and status check-ins,
for entrants and judges to better communicate about technical issues,
missing and broken entries and so on, and to give developers a better
sense of where their entry is at in the process after it’s been

Look forward to hearing more about that, as well as some other new
aspects of this year’s Festival, Awards, and Summit, in coming months.
And, as usual, the best of luck to everyone entering their game
— we all look forward to seeing what you’ve created this year! If
you’ve got any questions or concerns about anything I’ve listed here,
don’t hesitate to email me at brandon@igf.com!