“This year’s award
recipients represent the diverse nature of the evolving indie community, and we couldn’t
be prouder to celebrate the unique and though-provoking titles they’ve created. Their
dedicated passion continues to help the independent games movement grow and have
an increasingly significant impact on society.”
Stephanie Barish, IndieCade CEO
The IndieCade Trailblazer Award is an honorary prize given by IndieCade every year 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. Past Recipients include Time Schafer (2010), Megan Gaiser (2011), Elan Lee (2012), Tracy Fullerton (2013),
Alex Rigopolous (2014), Brenda Laurel (2015), and Rand Miller (2016)
This year’s recipient, Keita Takahashi, is a prolific Japanese game designer widely known for creating “Katamari Damacy” (PS2), “We Love Katamari” (PS2) and “Noby Noby Boy” (PS3 & iOS), commercial titles published by Namco. Following his commercial success, he moved to Vancouver to create independent games “Tenya Wanya Teens” and “ALPHABET.” He is currently working with his team in San Francisco on the new title “Wattam.”
The Bernie DeKoven Big Fun Award - This new annual honorary award was created in collaboration with Bernie DeKoven, to honor his legacy and to recognize
individuals or organizations significantly furthering the field and impact of new, big, and physical games.
Humans vs. Zombies is a game of tag played at schools, camps, neighborhoods, libraries, and conventions around the world. Human players must remain vigilant and defend themselves with socks and dart blasters to avoid being tagged by a growing zombie horde. The original co-creators of Humans vs. Zombies are Chris Weed, Brad Sappington, Joe Sklover, Justin Quick, Trevor Moorman, Ben Beecher, and Max Temkin. They have a game company called Gnarwhal Studios dedicated to maintaining Humans vs. Zombies as a free project and making new multiplayer experiences.
The Decade of Impact Award - IndieCade is honored to award the founders of the Global Game Jam with this special one time award. In honor of our decade anniversary, IndieCade is recognizing the Global Game Jam for their enormous impact on the game industry and especially the international independent community and ecosystem.
The 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.
Past recipients include Toni Rocca (2016) and anna anthropy (2013).
Rami Ismail is the Business & Development Guy at Vlambeer, a Dutch independent game studio known best for Nuclear Throne, Ridiculous Fishing, LUFTRAUSERS, Super Crate Box, GUN GODZ and Serious Sam: The Random Encounter. Rami travels around the world trying to find game development communities everywhere, and tries to connect them to help enable anyone around the world to make games.
The Grand Jury Award represents the best of IndieCade's best. This is a game which sets itself apart through its craftsmanship, innovation, and sheer style.
Oikospiel Book I - Play as a German Shepherd named Pluto and explore the enchanted climates of planet Earth and the asteroid 433 Eros. Written, assembled and with an original score by David Kanaga, players have the opportunity to visit an Arctic Ocean wind farm, Kochiri Forest, a computer OS, a cluttered desk, a union-busting prairie in Kansas, a private jet, a flooded city at the North Pole and many more fevered landscapes.
The Journey Award - The design or craft of this game provides a unique, curated experience for the player. This can come in the form of a rich narrative or be entirely 'story-less': the goal of this award is to take the player on an emotional arc that can't be had anywhere else. As implied by its name, the Journey Award winner is not about the destination, but rather the transformative steps we take along the way.
Detention - Set in a fictitious world in 1960s Taiwan under martial law, “Detention” incorporates East Asian elements rarely used in games. To tell a unique and terrifying story, the 2D atmospheric horror side-scroller draws on local Taiwanese cultural references, like Taoism, Buddhism and Chinese mythology.
The Interaction Award - This award honors the specialized craftsmanship and innovation necessary to get us engaging with games on a whole new level. This may be in the form of original controllers or hardware, unique interface design, or bold new systems and mechanics. At its utmost, the Interaction Award acknowledges a work that asks us to reconsider genre, norms, even the settings and circumstances in which we play.
Everything Is Going To Be OK - A collection of life experiences, “Everything is Going To Be OK” is an interactive zine that explores alternative views of power from a survivor’s standpoint and is a commentary of struggle. The focus is largely on bringing humor into "dark times,” offering different perspectives on what it means to live with things like PTSD.
The Impact Award - This award honors games which tackle, or offer a method for discussing, social issues in a whole new way. This may be in the form of serious games and advocacy or something more abstract: an invitation to understand, empathize, and do better by one another. Impact Award games take us out of our comfort zones and confront us directly on inequality, buried histories, and social progress yet to be done.
Tracking Ida - “Tracking Ida” is an educational alternate reality game (ARG) inspired by the pioneering investigative journalism of Ida B. Wells in the 1890s. Players uncover Ida B. Wells’ crusade against lynching and use her strategies to investigate police and vigilante killings today. Along the way, they solve puzzles, decode messages through a phonograph, role-play as investigative journalists, interview members of their community, and harness social media to spread awareness.
The Aesthetic Award - Although we often think of games as primarily visual, the truth is they can affect every one of our senses. This award honors a game which offers the player a unique, immense, or particularly sublime sensory experience, be it by touch, taste, sound, or some synaesthetic combination we don't yet have the words for.
Cat Sorter VR - In this whimsical VR game, players have the opportunity to sort defective cats, disassemble them and rebuild them into “purfect” felines, using intuitive controls. The room-scale VR experience can be played alone or in a group, as the design allows for party gameplay with friends or family.
The Culture Award - These games offer us new settings and cast their spotlights on unconventional figures. It is the festival's firmest belief that a diversity of viewpoints and creators not only makes our field stronger, but improves each of us as human beings as well. The Culture Award honors creative individuals whose work reaches out to new communities and taps into subject matter they alone can bring to life.
Cosmic Top Secret - “Cosmic Top Secret” is an autobiographical adventure video game about T, the protagonist who wants to uncover the truth about her father’s work for the Danish Intelligence Service during the Cold War.
The Dark Horse Award - This award honors a game which separated itself from the pack in unexpected ways. It may be the work of a developer heretofore unknown to the indie game world, an audacious new spin on conventions, or a whole new style of play.
Feast - "Feast” is a storytelling/role-playing game for five people about power and memory, where players take on the role of entities and possess and eat the personalities of ordinary people. Played during a communal meal, eating and tasting are used as game mechanics to evoke thoughts and memories.
The Incredible Playable Show - Taking inspiration from clowning and improv comedy, “The Incredible Playable Show” is a live interactive stage show where everyone in the room has the opportunity to participate and become a part of the action. Audience members can take to the stage to become human buttons, zap each other with barcode scanners and shout very loudly at classic video games. Each act is created to involve big crowds, providing the opportunity for the audience to express themselves and help make each performance unique.
Plunder Panic - “Plunder Panic” is a swashbuckling, 12-person multiplayer arcade game where two rival crews battle for supremacy on the high seas. Created in the style of a late 80s or early 90s arcade game, “Plunder Panic” offers multiple paths to victory, including defeating the enemy’s captain, scuttling the enemy’s ship or plundering treasure.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine - Set in an American inspired by folklore and the Great Depression, “Where the Water Tastes Like Wine” is a single-player narrative game about traveling and storytelling. Structured as a collection of short stories with multiple narratives, the player will meet 16 different characters while wandering. Cursed to wander the land as the personification of Folk culture, the player takes on the task of spreading folktales and helping them grow, as well as collecting the life stories of the characters they meet.
Walden, a game - “Walden, a game” is a first person simulation of the life of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau during his experiment in self-reliant living at Walden Pond. Live off the land, seek out the small wonders and beauties of the woods, and find balance between the need to survive and the desire to find inspiration. The game follows the loose narrative of Thoreau’s first year in the woods, with each season holding its own challenges for survival and possibilities for inspiration.
Busy Work - "Busy Work is a fast-paced multiplayer game that makes a frantic and hilarious gameplay out of the monotonous aspects of office work. Up to eight players compete to answer as many customer emails as possible before the morning meeting, while constantly being interrupted with phone calls, pop-up calendar reminders, ‘urgent’ physical tasks and more.