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IndieCade Festival 2023 Award Winners

Congratulations to our 2023 Awardees and Honorees!


Vanguard Award
Amanita Design

Founded in 2003, Amanita Design is a Czech indie development studio known for adventure games like Machinarium, Botanicula, Creaks, and the Samorost series. Their hallmark is creating immersive audiovisual worlds with a hand-crafted aesthetic, honoring Czech animation’s legacy.

Their journey began with Samorost (2003), Jakub Dvorsky’s diploma project at the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague. It was made available for free, and its online popularity paved the way for Samorost 2 (2005), Amanita’s first commercial venture.

2009’s Machinarium tells the tale of Josef, a robot striving to save his mechanical city and robotic friend Berta from the scheming Black Cap Brotherhood. Its acclaim ensured Amanita Design’s independence, allowing them to initiate more projects. This period saw Jaromír Plachý’s Botanicula (2012) and Jakub Dvorský’s Samorost 3 (2016).

CHUCHEL (2018), another brainchild of Plachý, emphasized humor and character. Subsequent games like Pilgrims (2019) and Creaks (2020) explored new gameplay styles, while Happy Game (2021) delved into the realm of psychedelic horror. Presently, Amanita Design is crafting three projects, including the unique, cardboard-constructed world of Phonopolis.

Trailblazer Award
Nonny de la Peña

Peabody winner Nonny de la Peña is the founding director of ASU’s program on Emerging Media and Narrative, where she leads a best-in-class research and graduate program with a focus on new narratives developed using emerging media technologies in the areas of arts, culture and nonfiction. She is also CEO of Emblematic Group and is renowned for pioneering the use of virtual and augmented reality for what she called “immersive journalism.”

She was named WSJ Technology Innovator of the Year and CNET’s 20 Most Influential Latinos in Tech. She was selected by Wired Magazine as #MakeTechHuman Agent of Change and Fast Company named her “One of the People Who Made the World More Creative” for her work in immersive storytelling. She was inducted into the SXSW Hall of Fame for her career efforts that include premiering the first virtual reality experiences at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012, the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014 and the World Economic Forum in 2014.

Under her leadership, Emblematic has built a critically acclaimed body of work using a range of technologies from 360 video, to VR, AR, and XR technologies, and AI and machine learning. Emblematic’s diverse roster of world class clients includes Cartier, Google, Lenovo, Italian fashion brand GCDS, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the World Economic Forum. Her latest breakthrough is Emblematic’s no code webXR platform REACH.Love which lets anyone use buttons to easily assemble and publish immersive 3D storytelling.

Game Changer Award
Kellee Santiago

Kellee Santiago is a long-time creator, lover of game makers, and is passionate about sharing stories through play.

As former President and Co-Founder of thatgamecompany, Kellee Santiago developed one of the most prominent brands in independent and innovative game development. In 2013 she moved into Publishing and Developer Relations at OUYA, the Kickstarter Android console. She later joined Google to similarly build out the developer pipelines and content strategy for their VR and AR platforms. Last year she moved back into original game development – working on Ingress, which celebrated their 10th year as a live game, as well as Peridot, which launched in May.

Kellee has grown and supported the development community as a co-chair for the Independent Games Summit as GDC, co-founding the angel investment fund Indie Fund, and building the Black Developers Initiative at Niantic.

Bernie DeKoven Big Fun Award
Nik Mikros & Josh Debonis

Nikita Mikros is the CEO of BumbleBear Games and a veteran game designer. He is a three-time IGF finalist as well as an Indiecade and Come Out and Play winner. In addition, he has worked on many games for clients, including Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, LEGO, and others.

He is best known for Killer Queen, the world’s only ten-player arcade game, which he designed with Joshua DeBonis. The game is known for its simplicity, depth of strategy, and explosive outbursts of laughter and joy. The game has been featured in the New York Times, Polygon, Kotaku, and others. What might be most notable about Killer Queen is the competitive community that has grown around the game, with millions of sky miles logged by players in pursuit of tournament glory.

He has taught game design and programming at the School of Visual Arts since 1994. Nik is currently focused on creating new types of games for arcades and promoting modern arcade culture and work.

Joshua DeBonis is an award-winning game designer and President of BumbleBear, vanguards of the new arcade. He has taught game design and development at Parsons the New School for Design and the NYU Game Center. His design credits include Killer Queen, Meriwether, Dice Miner, and Kleptocrat.

BumbleBear makes games for smart people to play together in public spaces. Our “platform”, the New Arcade, is a blend of digital and physical worlds. Our mission is to be the leading source of revolutionary games that incite growth of new arcade culture. We’re based in Brooklyn, NY.

Josh has shown many games at Indiecade over the years and has won the Indiecade Developers Choice Award for Killer Queen in 2013, as well as the IndieCade Jury Prix Award in 2018 for Kleptocrat.


Visual Design Award
WORLD OF HORROR by panstasz

Experience the quiet terror of this 1-bit love letter to Junji Ito and H.P. Lovecraft. Navigate a hellish roguelite reality with turn-based combat and unforgiving choices. The inevitable awaits…

Live Action Award
Chú Mó by The Chú Mó Team @ ArtCenter

Chú Mó invites players to take on the role of up-and-coming exorcists in this game that explores themes of East Asian exorcism in a school setting.

Audio Design Award
We Are OFK by OFK

Start a band in this dreamy musical journey from indiepop band OFK. Cry, skate, date, & run for your life in 5 interactive music videos, across a heartfelt story of what you risk to chase your dreams

Tabletop Design Award
Desperation by Bully Pulpit Games

Desperation is two small roleplaying games of gothic storytelling experiences steeped in actual history. Dead House and The Isabel are dark, lyrical games about people pushed far past their limits.

Performance Award
Goodbye Volcano High by KO_OP

Goodbye Volcano High is an LGBTQIA+ cinematic narrative adventure about love, change, and the power of community at the end of the world.

Narrative Award
Gerda: A Flame in Winter by Bird Island

This game is an intimate narrative RPG-lite experience set during WW2 and German occupation of Denmark. Walk the path of a nurse who must try to save her loved ones while staying true to herself.

Impact Award
Dead Pets Unleashed by Triple Topping

Punk rock band, Dead Pets, are looking for their big break. Play rhythm games at band practice, work a diner shift, and converse with characters in this management-lite, minigame-heavy, narrative game.

Mike Sellers Systemic Design Award
Against the Storm by Eremite Games

Become the Scorched Queen’s Viceroy and reclaim the wilderness in a roguelite city builder where humans, beavers, lizards, harpies, and foxes stand united against apocalyptic rains.


Developers Choice
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical by Summerfall Studios

Gods. Romance. Murder. Musical Numbers?! Change fate with your choices in this beautifully hand-illustrated interactive roleplaying musical.

Innovation in Interaction Design Award
Viewfinder by Sad Owl Studios

Challenge perception, redefine reality, and reshape the world around you with an instant camera. Viewfinder is a single player puzzle game.

Jury Prix Award
Cryptmaster by Paul Hart & Lee Williams

Cryptmaster is a dungeon-crawling narrative adventure with a nostalgic visual style about a party of recently awakened dead heroes.

Innovation in Experience Design Award
He Fucked The Girl Out of Me by Taylor McCue

He Fucked The Girl Out Of Me is a semi-autobiographical narrative visual novel about trauma and sex work made for the gameboy.

Grand Jury Award
Goodbye Volcano High by KO_OP

Goodbye Volcano High is an LGBTQIA+ cinematic narrative adventure about love, change, and the power of community at the end of the world.

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