IndieCade Award Descriptions
Grand Jury Award
The Grand Jury Award represents the best of IndieCade’s best. This is the one game out of all the festival nominees, and the hundreds and hundreds of submissions to this year’s festival, that not only captures how far independent games have come, but how much farther they can still take us.
Jury Prix Award
The Jury Prix Award is for a game the Awards Jury wishes to confer honor for separating itself from the pack through its craftsmanship, innovation, and /or design.
Innovation in Interaction Design Award
The Innovation in Interaction Design Award honors the specialized artistry and innovation required to engage with games on a new level. This may be in the form of original controllers, unique interface design, or bold new game mechanics. At its utmost, the Interaction Award acknowledges a work that asks us to reconsider the ways in which we play.
Innovation in Experience Design Award
The Innovation in Experience Design Award honors a game that provides a unique, curated experience. This can come in the form of a rich narrative or be entirely ‘story-less’. It takes the player on an emotional arc that can’t be had anywhere else.
Developers Choice Award
The Developers Choice Award is voted on by nominated IndieCade Festival 2023 developers and the honorees.
Live Action Spotlight Award
The oncoming frontier of play and experience design includes the amazing worlds of immersive theater, themed experiences, virtual and augmented reality spaces, escape rooms and more exploration of bespoke, physical experiences often designed for groups of people and social engagement. The Location Based and Live Play award rewards experiences innovating in these spaces and creating magical new spaces for play.
Narrative Spotlight Award
As games grow across boundaries, platforms, and formats, an ever growing array of narratives are communicated in an ever growing number of ways. The delicate art of creating a living, breathing story through design of spaces, characters, conflicts, and more has become a defining art for games and play. The Narrative Game Award celebrates accomplishment and innovation in this amazing and emergent art of interaction driven narrative.
Performance Spotlight Award
The Performance Award honors a unique or particularly sublime performance: voice, motion capture, video, live and more. As games grow in cultural weight and professional development, the field of independent development has involved a larger variety of artists from all disciplines. The brilliant pacing, empathy, and understanding of the best performers has been harnessed this decade to make some of the most arresting play experiences we have ever seen. This award celebrates the actors practicing their incredible craft in the field of play.
Impact Spotlight Award
The Impact Award honors a game which explores social, cultural, and/or political issues in a whole new way. It may take us out of our comfort zones, and confront us directly on social progress yet to be done, or mark a real change in the industry. Impact isn’t simply about diversity or doing good in the world. It can be creating new access points for unlikely players engaging with unlikely topics, new points of connection for people across the globe, or new shared experiences that resonate in our modern culture.
Audio Design Spotlight Award
The Audio Design awards honors the craft of auditory engagement, used to drive interaction and build theme, context, and meaning. Games have only begun to scratch the surface of music as feedback, audio as generator of meaning, and the power of audio to guide interaction and connection. The craftspeople creating deep emotion and meaning in the audience through thoughtful and powerful audio are driving innovation in what games talk about.
Tabletop Design Spotlight Award
Staring across a board, a hand of cards, or even a chaotic pile of detailed paper notes, games played at the table, often with friends, leveraging the imagination of players to create unique and companionable experiences is the heart of games for many of us. The Tabletop Game Award celebrates the indie tabletop games of the year that innovate, surprise, and delight the heart.
Visual Design Spotlight Award
As games grow across boundaries, platforms, and formats, the craft of animation and art are harnessed in an ever growing number of ways. The delicate work of creating a living, breathing world through design of environments, the movement of characters, the color of the sky, the shape of the text and icons, and more has become a defining field for games and play. The Visual Design Award celebrates accomplishment and innovation by these masterful artists.
Mike Sellers Systemic Design Spotlight Award
The Systemic Design Award honors a game that leverages randomness and algorithmic content or behavior to create unique and innovative interactions. Systemic Design is a growing skill with new discoveries made in many fields related to game development – graphics, narrative, level design, meaningful randomness, artificial behavior, and more. This award celebrates the amazing design of procedural and random chance that drives amazing discovery in the field of play.
Special & Honorary Awards
The Trailblazer Award is an honorary prize given to a working creator who has made both great contributions to the field of games and captures the independent and pioneering spirit. The Trailblazer award is for distinguished accomplishment over a career of creation, and recognizes those personalities without whom many of us would have never fallen in love with the field.
Game Changer Award
The Game Changer Award celebrates an individual who has impacted the gaming landscape in a significant way, a positive disruptor who has brought a paradigm shift to our community. Whether it’s advocating for independent developers or creating space for conversations to take place, a Game Change is someone who makes us proud to be part of the industry.
Bernie DeKoven Big Fun Award
This annual honorary award was created in collaboration with Bernie DeKoven, to honor his legacy and to recognize creators significantly furthering the field and impact of new, big, and physical games. We love big, pervasive games, because of the way they bring people together and forge connections on a large scale.
The newest edition to our honorary awards, the Vanguard Award, is presented to an independent studio that has been working in the space since the beginning, before indie games became a major part of the game industry. Driven by creative vision and tenacity, they went out on a limb early, have weathered trials and tribulations of bubbles and a constantly shifting landscape, and have not only survived but flourished, and continue to make innovative games that enrapture and delight us.
The Jurying Process
Hundreds of jury members, alongside an international review committee, play, review, discuss, and thoughtfully consider each of our game submissions. The process takes nearly three months and in the end a selection of nominees are determined for the universal and spotlight awards each year. Often a handful of additional selections are hand-picked by the curation committee to join for special events and showcases (like Night Games) and those are Official Selections.
All submitted games are eligible to be nominated and all nominated games are eligible for all of the awards. All games that are featured at the events are eligible for developer and audience choice awards. Additionally, IndieCade confers four annual honorary awards: the Trailblazer Award, the Game Changer Award, and the Bernie DeKoven Big Fun Award, and the Vanguard Award.