As the 2019 Independent Games Festival enters its jurying phase, organizers are excited to announce more of the juries (made up of discipline experts) who will play, evaluate and discuss the most notable games of the over 500 entered this year.
With the first round of IGF judging complete (thanks to the efforts of hundreds of game industry evaluators), these expert juries now gather to determine the finalists and winners of the prestigious IGF 2019 awards at the 2019 Game Developers Conference in March!
We like to celebrate the efforts of our hard-working jurors, because they volunteer their time and talents to help judge these important honors. Today we'd specifically like to shout out some of the industry professionals who have agreed to judge the Excellence in Design Award, the Excellence in Narrative Award, and the Student Award.
(And of course, all jurors also have a say in the IGF's annual Seamus McNally Grand Prize!)
Excellence in Design
The Excellence in Design award seeks to highlight the innovation and quality of the underlying blueprint of each entered game -- including component parts like its level design, mechanic design and difficulty balancing. It will be awarded by the following jury:
- Lisy Kane: Lisy Kane is a videogames producer currently making waves in the industry. In 2017, Lisy was recognized by Forbes in its prestigious top 30 list: Forbes 30 Under 30 2017: Games. Ranked alongside the world’s best game makers, Lisy was the only Australian to make the who’s who of the global gaming industry. At Melbourne studio League of Geeks she is the producer on 2016 IGF Nominee Armello which has become an example of indie games-as-a-service success. In 2014, Lisy joined forces with four other digital professionals to co-found Girl Geek Academy with a mission to teach 1 million women to get into tech and launch their own startups by 2025.
- Liz England: Liz England is a lead designer at Ubisoft Toronto and specializes in systems design and narrative. In the past she's worked as a designer on games such as Scribblenauts and Sunset Overdrive.
- Luis Antonio: Luis has over ten years experience in the video game industry. He worked at Rockstar Games, as an artist, and later Ubisoft as Lead and eventually Art Director. Dissatisfied with the creative limitations of the triple-A industry, he joined Jonathan Blow to create the art for the award-winning game "The Witness." He now runs a studio and is directing his first title, "Twelve Minutes," an interactive thriller about a man trapped in a time loop.
- Nina Freeman: Nina Freeman is a level designer at Fullbright, where she most recently worked on Tacoma. She has also worked as the designer for many other games, including IGF Nuovo winner Cibele, and nominee “how do you Do It?”.
- Sarah Northway: Sarah is the creator of the Rebuild strategy series, and a programmer and designer on Fantastic Contraption VR. She spent 5 years traveling the world with her husband and making indie games in remote places, and now explores the worlds inside her Vive.
- Zach Gage: Zach Gage is a game designer and artist from New York City. He’s best known for SpellTower, Ridiculous Fishing, Really Bad Chess, and Flipflop Solitaire.
Excellence in Narrative
The Excellence in Narrative award aims to recognize quality and impressiveness of storytelling in a game - including, but not limited to, scenario, plot construction, story, dialogue, and other major factors. The 2019 award will be decided by these jurors:
- Andrew Plotkin: Andrew Plotkin has been playing interactive fiction since there were home computers, and tried writing some shortly thereafter. He now helps run an IF non-profit foundation and plays with other narrative game ideas.
- Kate Gray: Kate Gray is the Narrative Director at KO_OP in Montreal, and a games journalist who has worked at Future, Xbox, and GameSpot. She currently writes about sex games for Kotaku, and is working on something secret at KO_OP.
- Kristina Drzaic: Kristina Drzaic is a writer, narrative designer and master of videogame secrets. She is best known for her work on Halo 5: Guardians, the BioShock series, and Galak-Z. Presently, she is developing secret projects at Amazon Game Studios.
- Lucy Blundell: Lucy Blundell is a solo, independent game developer who creates narrative-driven experiences that focus on our personal secrets. Her games show players a different, softer side of gaming where sincerity, introspection and human relations replace action, fantasy and power.
- Sam Barlow: Sam Barlow is a videogame writer and director known for pushing the boundaries of interactive narrative with games such as Aisle, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and Her Story. His eagerly awaited Telling Lies continues to explore the alchemical combination of film and gaming.
- Teddy Dief: Teddy Dief is an independent videogame designer and writer. He co-developed Hyper Light Drifter, Fitz Packerton and the Playscape Idle Thumbs podcast. Formerly a Creative Director at Square Enix Montréal, designer at Disney and game narrative researcher at USC. He is co-founder of Los Angeles artist collective Glitch City.
- Darshana Jayemanne: Darshana Jayemanne is Lecturer in Art, Media and Games at Abertay University, U.K. He is the author of the book "Performativity in Art, Literature and Videogames" (Palgrave, 2017) and has published widely on narrative and gaming.
Best Student Game Award
The IGF 2019 Best Student Game award will be given to a student developer (or team of student developers) to mark their submission as a standout example of an impressive, enjoyable and high-quality student-made game. Here are the jurors who will award it:
- Arthur Prudent: Game designer at Amplitude Studios, the French studio making the Endless strategic games. Jam organizer and Game Design educator.
- Eline Muijres: Eline is Communications Manager at the game incubator Dutch Game Garden where she connects people, organizes events, and supports indie developers with entrepreneurship. She is a former game journalist and has worked on the mobile ballet game Bounden, doing PR, marketing, and production. Additionally, Eline is a Board Member of the Games [4Diversity] foundation.
- Jana Reinhardt: Jana Reinhardt is a game designer and graphic artist. Together with Friedrich Hanisch she founded the independent game studio Rat King. Apart from being a game jam enthusiast she created "TRI: Of Friendship and Madness", "SOLITUNE" and works on "Behind Stars and Under Hills".
- Kimberly Voll: Kim is a senior technical designer at Riot Games who specializes in player dynamics, game design, and applied cognitive science. Outside of Riot she recently has been working on some Switch titles, and also launched Fantastic Contraption for all major VR platforms. Previously a professor, Kim has a PhD in computer science and has been making, studying, and teaching games and brains for over 20 years.
- Michael McMaster: Michael is a videogame developer and researcher based in Melbourne, Australia. In 2016 he released the local-multiplayer game Push Me Pull You with his studio House House, and is currently working on a followup game called Untitled Goose Game. He is also working on a PhD research project examining the position of videogames in museums.
- Richard Perrin: Developer of Kairo, the white chamber, Journal and Cosplay Maker. Production Director at Hammerhead VR pushing the boundaries of mixed reality and volumetric capture.
All entries in the 2019 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 20th at the (livestreamed!) IGF Awards ceremony during GDC 2019.