The end of the year is drawing nigh, and that means the 2017 Independent Games Festival is about to enter its jurying phase -- the period in which discipline-specific experts play, evaluate and discuss the 650+ games entered in the 2017 Festival Competition, all of which continue to push the boundaries of video game development and design.
As always, a remarkable group of game development notables are evaluating IGF 2017's most promising entries. After first-round IGF judging from hundreds of evaluators, these expert juries will ultimately determine the finalists and winners of the various IGF 2017 awards at the 2017 Game Developers Conference.
In recognition of their service, 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 Best Student Game 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 2017 is made up of the following experts:
- Jane Ng - Jane is currently the lead artist at Campo Santo. Her credits include Firewatch, The Cave, Stacking, Brutal Legend, Spore and The Godfather.
- Chandana Ekanayake - Art Director and Game Designer at Uber Entertainment working on VR games Wayward Sky and Dino Frontier.
- Orsi Spanyol - Art Lead at Thekla Inc., responsible for much of the art and a bit of design in The Witness.
- Kelly Graham - Trained as a 2D animation artist, Kelly has spent her time in the industry at Klei Entertainment, helping to create Mark of the Ninja, Don't Starve and Oxygen Not Included.
- Dorianne Dutrieux - Dorianne has been in independent games for 10 years, with the bulk of that time as either lead artist or art director.
- Nils Deneken - Founder of Die Gute Fabrik. Previous projects include among others Where is my Heart?, B.U.T.T.O.N. Primary role in game development is concept, storytelling, asset creation, GUI design, also experience in level and game design. Currently working on an adventure and gardening game called Mutazione. Education in visual communication.
- Leanne Roed - Leanne is an artist and designer who most recently worked on the mobile game Cribbage With Grandpas. She also organizes community events in Vancouver, BC, Canada and self-publishes a small games and art zine called Art Disk.
The Nuovo Award
Now in its ninth year running, the Nuovo Award is intended as a celebration of more esoteric and shorter-form games. The Nuovo jury for IGF 2017 will include the following:
- Ichiro Lambe - A 23-year industry veteran and founder of Boston-based Dejobaan Games, Ichiro's most Nuovo title is Elegy for a Dead World, a game about British romantic era creative writing. Currently working on Last Night on Planet Earth, an FMV life sim where you play an alien who comes to New England to learn how to dance salsa and make friends before the planet's destroyed.
- Robin Hunicke - Robin Hunicke is a co-founder & designer at Funomena, an independent game studio in SF making Luna, Wattam and Woorld. A long-time advocate of experimental, sustainable and diverse game development teams, Robin is also an Associate Professor and Director of the Art, Games & Playable Media BA at UC Santa Cruz.
- Sos Sosowski - Mad scientist of video games. Creator of Thelemite, McPixel and many other game nobody ever heard of. Currently working on Mosh Pit Simulator. On a mission to create the worst video game ever.
- Pippin Barr - Pippin Barr is a videogame maker and critic who works as an assistant professor in the Department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University in Montréal. His games have addressed everything from airplane safety instructions to contemporary art and his collaborations have included performance artist Marina Abramović and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). Pippin has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and has taught game design at institutions including the IT University of Copenhagen and the University of Malta.
- Jim Crawford - Jim Crawford has been making video games for over twenty years, but nobody noticed until he moved to the Bay Area and started making friends with game journalists. Since making Frog Fractions, he's told day jobs to screw off and is riding the making games train until the conductor realizes that he forgot to buy a ticket.
- Marie Foulston - Curator of Videogames for the V&A museum in London and co-founder of UK independent videogame collective The Wild Rumpus.
- 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.
The Best Student Game Award
At IGF 2017 the Best Student Game award will be given to a student developer (or team of student developers) to celebrate their submission as a standout example of an impressive, enjoyable and high-quality student-made game. The award will be decided by the following jury members:
- Douglas Wilson - Douglas Wilson is co-owner of Die Gute Fabrik. He is also an Assistant Professor ("Lectuer") at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia. Doug has worked on three IGF-nominated games including Euclidean Crisis, BUTTON, and Johann Sebastian Joust.
- Chris Bell - Chris Bell is a game designer based in Los Angeles, California. His works include Journey and Way, as well as the upcoming games What Remains of Edith Finch and interactive time-loop thriller Twelve Minutes.
- Kevin Zuhn - Project Lead on IGF Student award nominee Octodad, and Creative Director on its commercial sequel, Octodad: Dadliest Catch!
- Brian Schrank - Brian Schrank, PhD, is assistant professor and chair of the game design program at DePaul University. His MIT Press book ""Avant-garde Videogames: Playing with Technoculture"" places games within the context of art history and the avant-garde. His award-winning games such as Dumpy: Going Elephants are shown internationally and he presents work in artistic, commercial, and scholarly venues.
- Laila Shabir - Founder, Girls Make Games.
- Michael McMaster - Michael is a videogame developer and interdisciplinary artist based in Melbourne, Australia. In 2016 he released the weird local-multiplayer sports game Push Me Pull You to critical acclaim. In the same year he also taught various game design courses in the Bachelor of Design (Games) at RMIT University.
- Ojiro Fumoto - Independent game developer based in Tokyo, Japan. Creator of Downwell.
- Kimberly Voll - Currently a senior technical designer at Riot Games. Separately, worked on Fantastic Contraption for VR. Former professor of computer science and game design.
All entries in the 2017 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 1st at the (livestreamed!) IGF Awards ceremony during GDC 2017.
Also, don't miss your opportunity to save money by registering early -- the deadline to register for passes at a discounted rate is January 18, 2017. GDC 2017 itself will take place February 27th - March 3rd at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.