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IndieCade Anywhere & Everywhere Festival 2022 Awards

Honorary Awards

Each year, IndieCade bestows three Honorary/Lifetime Achievement Awards. 

Kaho Abe: 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 they way they bring people together and forge connections on a large scale.

John Romero: Trailblazer

The IndieCade 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 sprit. 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.

Morgan Romine: Game Changer

IndieCade’s Game Changer Award celebrates an individual who has impacted the gaming landscape in a significant way, a positive disruptor who has 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 Changer is someone who makes us proud to be part of the industry.

Honorary Awards Presenters

  • Presenting the Bernie DeKoven Big Fun Award

    Nathalie Pozzi, Italian architect and NYC-based designer

    Nathalie Pozzi is an Italian-licensed architect and the principal of Nakworks, an interdisciplinary design studio that explores the critical intersection of space, material and culture. Nathalie has worked with game designer Eric Zimmerman to co-design large-scale installations that are part architecture and part interactive performance. Their collaborations have appeared at game-related events at the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, as well as in Paris, Dublin, Moscow, Boston, and Los Angeles.

    Eric Zimmerman, Game Designer and Professor, NYU Game Center

    Eric is a game designer who has worked in the game industry for more than 30 years, designing tabletop games, PC/console titles, and massively multiplayer online games. With architect Nathalie Pozzi, Eric has designed large-scale installations for museums and festivals around the world. Eric is a longtime design educator and founding faculty at the NYU Game Center and has written or co-authored influential books on game design, including his new book The Rules We Break.

  • Presenting the Trailblazer Award

    Beth LaPensee, Narrative Director, Twin Suns

    Beth LaPensée, Ph.D. is Narrative Director at Twin Suns. She is an award-winning designer, writer, and artist of games and comics who most recently directed and designed When Rivers Were Trails, an adventure game about land allotment in the 1890s which won the Adaptation Award at IndieCade 2019.

  • Presenting the Game Changer Award

    Brenda Romero, Studio Director at Romero Games

    Brenda Romero is studio director of Romero Games based in Galway, Ireland. As a game designer, Romero has released on every platform from the Apple II to the kitchen table. A previous recipient of IndieCade’s Vanguard Award for Train, Romero’s work explores the intersection of difficult topics and game systems.

General Awards Categories

All Nominees are eligible for these awards. 

IndieCade Jury Prix

The IndieCade 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.

IndieCade Grand Jury

The IndieCade 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.

IndieCade Developers Choice

The IndieCade Developers Choice Award is voted on by nominated IndieCade Festival developers.

Innovation in Interaction Design

Innovation in Interaction Design 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

Innovation in Experience Design 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.

General Awards Presenters

  • Presenting the Jury Prix Award

    William Hellwarth, Creative Director

    Will is a BAFTA winning LA based game designer and founder of the studio GoodbyeWorld Games. When not working in gaming, Will is developing augmented reality filmmaking technology with the company ARwall that he helped found.

  • Presenting the Innovation in Interaction Design Award

    Yannick Trapman-O’Brien, Performer, Theatremaker, and Creative Hand for Hire

    Most known for his ongoing Telephone experience “the Telelibrary,” Trapman-O’Brien specializes in building intimate, responsive, and deeply personal experiences for audiences of one or a few. More details on what he’s made and what you can join him in making now can be found at

  • Presenting the Innovation in Experience Design Award

    James Coltrain, Founder and Lead at Historiated Games

    Dr. James Coltrain (PhD History, Northwestern University) is the Founder and Lead at Historiated Games, and an Assistant Professor of Game Art at the University of Connecticut. His studio’s first game, Blackhaven, won the 2021 Innovation in Experience Design Award at Indiecade and was awarded Honorable Mention for Excellence in Narrative at IGF 2022. Historiated’s next game, the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere will debut on Meta Quest and other platforms in 2023.

Spotlight Awards Categories

Particular Nominees are eligible for these awards.

Audio Design

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.


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.

Live Action

The oncoming frontier of play and experience design includes the amazing worlds of immersive theater, themed experience, virtual and augmented reality spaces, escape rooms and more exploration of bespoke, physical experiences often designed for groups of people and social engagement.

The Live Action award rewards experiences innovating in these spaces and creating magical new spaces for play.


The oncoming frontier of play and experience design includes the amazing worlds of 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 Award celebrates accomplishment and innovation in this amazing and emergent art of interaction driven narrative.


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, independent development increases its variety of artists from all disciplines.

The brilliant pacing, empathy, and understanding of the best performers have 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.

Systemic Design

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 elements that drive discovery in the field of play.

The Systemic Design Award honors leveraging randomness and algorithmic content/behavior to create unique, innovative interactions. 

Tabletop Design

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 Design Award celebrates the indie tabletop games of the year that innovate, surprise, and delight the heart.

Visual Design

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.

Spotlight Awards Presenters

  • Presenting the Audio Design Award

    Jeff Ball, Music Producer, Audio Designer, and Recording Violinist

    Jeff Ball is a classically trained violinist and a self taught composer, producer, sound designer, and implementer who has been working in game audio since 2008. His work can be heard in over 50 video game titles internationally ranging from mobile to AAA, as well as cartoons, anime, theme parks, national parks, movies, commercials, documentaries, charity projects, K-pop, podcasts, soap operas, and sample libraries. In his free time, Jeff also produces lofi and relaxation music, and enjoys a weekly D&D and anime night with friends.

  • Presenting the Impact Award

    Yuxin Gao, Game Developer and Producer

    Yuxin Gao is a Chinese game developer and producer, currently working at LA-based game and art studio Tender Claws. Her personal work explores the intersection of journalism and games, following real-life events and social issues.

  • Presenting the Narrative Award

    Nadya Lev, CEO and Co-Founder of Aconite

    CEO and co-founder of Aconite, and award-winning studio that makes games that blur the line between reality and fiction.

  • Presenting the Performance Award

    Evan Neiden, Artistic Director

    Evan Neiden is a creator and performer of experimental theatre, with a focus on creating connection and change at any distance. They are the Founder and Artistic Director of award-winning immersive theatre company Candle House Collective, and is an ongoing collaborator with Houseworld Immersive, Doors of Divergence, and JFI Productions. They are very fond of answering machines.

  • Presenting the Systemic Design Award

    Gian Paolo Vernocchi, CEO & Creative Director of DESTINYbit

    Gian Paolo Vernocchi has been in the gaming industry for over 13 years and is currently the CEO and Creative Director of DESTINYbit, an Italian game development studio, part of Amplifier and the Embracer Group. DESTINYbit are the makers of Empires Apart and Dice Legacy, Gamescom’s 2021 Most Original Game and winner of IndieCade’s Systemic Design Award of 2021. In the past, he has worked for Just Funny Games and Crescent Moon Games on titles such as The Deer GodRavensword Shadowlands and Trigonon.

  • Presenting the Tabletop Design Award

    Spenser Starke, Game Designer

    Starke is a Game Designer for Darrington Press, best known for the Ennie and Indiecade Award-Winning game Alice Is Missing. His previous work includes Kids on Brooms (the game used to power Dimension20’s Misfits and Magic) as well as Icarus, the Ennie-Nominated storytelling game about how great civilizations fall. Before joining the Critical Role team, Spenser also worked as a writer, producer, and director in digital media across many different companies, including serving as the creative lead on projects for Battlebots, Shark Week, Discovery, Group Nine Media, and 100 Thieves.

Awards Co-Hosts

Sarah Elmaleh

Sarah is an actor and voice director for games – you can hear her work in AAA blockbusters, to be sure (Fortnite, Halo: Infinite, Gears 5, upcoming God of War: Ragnarok), but her roots in indies run deep (Afterparty, Pyre, Gone Home and upcoming The Wreck) and her devotion to them remains strong and stout. When she isn’t performing, directing, or yammering on about labor issues and better collaboration, she’s helping co-host the developer interview podcast Eggplant: The Secret Lives of Games. This is her 7th year directing and co-hosting the IndieCade Awards.

Isla Hinck

Isla Hinck is a writer, video producer, and musician, and is the co-founder and co-head of Easy Allies: a group of writers and video producers who do podcasts, shows, reviews, and livestreams about games. She is also hopelessly in love with synthesizers. 

Directed and Hosted by Sarah Elmaleh, Produced by Adam Contini

IndieCade Anywhere and Everywhere individual award artwork created by Richard Boeser

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