As the year winds down around us, the jurying phase for the 2020 Independent Games Festival is about to begin, so today organizers are proud to reveal the rest of the game industry experts who have agreed to help judge some of the Festival's premier awards!
Soon, these expert juries will meet to determine the finalists and winners of the prestigious IGF 2020 awards at the 2020 Game Developers Conference in March.
Today we'd like to celebrate these industry professionals, each of whom gives their time and talents to help judge these important honors. Please join us in welcoming these experts to judge the Narrative Award, the Student Award, and the Visual Art Award!
The Excellence in Narrative Award
The Excellence in Narrative award aims 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 2020 award will be decided by these jurors:
- Sam Barlow: Sam Barlow is a director and writer known for games that push the boundaries of interactive narrative. With Silent Hill: Shattered Memories he created a classic that psychologically profiled its players and in Her Story he reinvented the detective genre for the YouTube generation. In 2019 he released his most ambitious title yet, the investigative thriller Telling Lies.
- Darshana Jayemanne: Darshana Jayemanne is Lecturer in Art, Media and Games at Abertay University, U.K. He is the author of the book "Performativity in Art, Literature and Videogames" (Palgrave, 2017) and has published widely on narrative and gaming.
- Kate Gray: Kate Gray is the Narrative Director at KO_OP, an indie studio based in Montreal, known for their award-winning puzzle game, GNOG. She is also a journalist with a speciality in romance and sex in games, having written on the subject for Kotaku, Vice Games, and more.
- Jack de Quidt: Jack de Quidt is a writer and composer for the actual play podcast Friends at the Table. Their work includes the heist comedy Dr. Langeskov and stories for Failbetter's Fallen London. Their critical writing has appeared in The Guardian, Vice's Waypoint, and Rock Paper Shotgun.
- 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.
- Leena van Deventer: Leena van Deventer has taught interactive storytelling at RMIT University for the last 5 years, and taught semesters at Swinburne University and Melbourne University's Victorian College of the Arts. As a published author, narrative designer, activist and writer, she has won awards for her work including the 'Pioneer Award' at the MCV Pacific Women in Games awards, and worked as senior copywriter on "Run That Town", a Gold Lion award-winner at Cannes. Leena has recently completed her Masters in Arts Management and is now Creative Producer at Team Fanclub on their debut title "Dead Static Drive".
- Giada Zavarise leads a double life as a freelance narrative designer and games journalist.
As a journalist, she works for Eurogamer, PC Gamer and Rock Paper Shotgun, where she writes a column about the relationship between comics and games. As a narrative designer, she's currently working on unannounced projects with Dejobaan Games while wrapping up her indie game, Selling Sunlight.
The Best Student Game Award
The IGF 2020 Best Student Game award will be given to a student developer (or team of student developers) to mark their submission as a standout example of an impressive, enjoyable and high-quality student-made game. Here are the jurors who will award it:
- Liam Edwards: Director and Game Designer at Q-Games in Kyoto, Japan. Award-winning podcaster.
- Richard Perrin: Indie developer with a love for interactive storytelling. Creator of the white chamber, Kairo, Journal and Cosplay Maker. Lead developer on ABE VR and SYREN VR.
- José Zagal: José Zagal is faculty at the University of Utah's top-ranked game development program. He wrote “Ludoliteracy” and edited the “Videogame Ethics Reader” and “Role-Playing Game Studies”, a book on the study of role-playing games. He was also honored as a distinguished game scholar by the digital games research association (DiGRA).
- Andy Nealen: Andy Nealen is an Associate Professor of Cinematic Arts and Computer Science in the Interactive Media & Games Division at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he teaches and researches in Game Design, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Graphics, and Game Engineering. His focus on minimal and accessible designs for complex systems is evidenced in the Apple-Design-Award-winning game Osmos, as well as in his Sketch-Based Modeling, Game-Space Exploration, and Game Heuristics research. Andy received his PhD in Computer Science from TU Berlin, is a regular speaker at international game and computer graphics conferences, and is a regular contributor to ACM SIGGRAPH.
- Eline Mujeres: Eline is Producer at Mipumi Games in Vienna, working on secret story-driven games. Additionally, she is a Board Member of Games [4Diversity], a foundation aimed to improve the representation of minorities in games. In the past Eline was a game journalist, worked on the IGF-nominated ballet game Bounden, and did communications for Dutch Game Garden.
- AP Thomson: AP Thomson is a designer and programmer who has worked on numerous games including Fortune-499, Swap Sword, Multibowl, and Beglitched (winner of the 2016 IGF Student Award). AP is currently working with Beglitched co-creator Jenny Jiao Hsia on their upcoming game Consume Me. AP also regularly teaches classes at the NYU Game Center as an adjunct lecturer.
- Kat Brewster: Kat Brewster is a PhD student and researcher at the University of California, Irvine in the Department of Informatics, where they have instructed game design, systems design, and games and culture courses. Kat has written about games for museums and galleries, as well as for The Guardian, VICE, IGN, and maintains a weekly column at Rock, Paper, Shotgun about free games.
- Kimberly Voll: Kim is a game developer specializing in design, AI, and player psychology. She co-founded Stray Bombay Company and is currently working on an unannounced co-op shooter. Most recently she was a principal designer at Riot Games, while in a past life she was a professor of computer science.
The Excellence in Visual Art Award
The Excellence in Visual Art award seeks to celebrate the highlights of innovation and quality in visuals for independent games, and its jury for 2020 is made up of the following experts:
- Samuel Boucher: Artist and designer at KO_OP for 6 years, Samuel has art directed and designed games in partnership with The National Film Board Of Canada, Cartoon Network and Square Enix Montreal. He was the artist and main designer on an original KO_OP title called GNOG.
- Greg Lobanov: Greg is an indie game developer living in Vancouver, Canada who's been publishing games for over a decade. He's best known for his IGF-nominated musical adventure game Wandersong.
- Marielle Fox: Marielle is an environment artist at Red Hook Studios. She loves strong silhouettes, muted colors, petting dogs, and making costumes.
- Kitty Calis: Kitty Calis is an artist, designer and producer working on projects all over the games industry, such as Horizon Zero Dawn and last year's Grand Prize nominee Minit.
- Jesse Turner: Jesse "The Drawbarian" Turner is a game developer out of Vancouver British Columbia Canada. He works at Klei Entertainment and draws pretty fast .
- Chelsea Hash: Chelsea was the Technical Art lead for What Remains of Edith Finch, and otherwise has 15 years of experience in the industry as an artist and designer. She got her start in upstate New York at an independent studio producing third-party titles for children and under-served markets, but now live in Los Angeles working with indies, and currently works at Heart Machine as their Technical Art Lead.
- Amanda Williams: Amanda Williams is an illustrator and 2D environment artist living in Austin, TX. She loves to embed and discover little mysteries in tangible and imaginary spaces. Titles she contributed to include Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, Rite of the Shrouded Moon, Waking Mars, and Where the Water Tastes Like Wine.
These juries will conduct their deliberations alongside those already announced for the IGF 2020 Nuovo, Design, and Audio awards, the last of which has been recently bolstered by the addition of voice director Jeremy Hall.
All entries in the 2020 Independent Games Festival are currently browseable at the IGF's official site. Competition finalists will be announced early next year, with the winners announced on the evening of March 18th at the IGF Awards ceremony during GDC 2020!
As in years past, the IGF Awards will be livestreamed alongside the Game Developers Choice Awards on the official GDC Twitch channel. Subscribe now to be notified when we go live, and watch last year's awards show for a taste of what's in store!