The 2016 Independent Games Festival is about to enter its jurying phase, in which discipline-specific experts play, evaluate and discuss the more than 750 games entered in the 2016 Festival Competition, all of which continue to push the boundaries of video game development and design.
As in years past, an extraordinary group of game development notables are evaluating IGF 2016's standout entries. After first-round IGF judging from over 400 evaluators, these panels will ultimately determine the finalists and winners of the various IGF 2016 awards at the 2016 Game Developers Conference.
Today we're happy to highlight those who have volunteered their time and talent to take part in juding the Excellence in Design Award, the Best Student Game Award, and the Nuovo Award.
The Excellence in Design Award
The Excellence in Design award is a category which 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:
- Bennett Foddy, NYU Game Center game design educator and designer of games like QWOP, GIRP, Stair: Slide The Blocks to Ascend and the Sportsfriends game Pole Riders.
- Andy Schatz, a former IGF awards host and creator of the 2006 IGF Grand Prize nominee Venture Africa as well as the award-winning Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine.
- Mare Sheppard, one half of Metanet Software Inc., a boutique game developer based in Toronto you'd probably know best for N, N+ and the recently released N++.
- Tanya X. Short, the designer and captain at Montreal studio Kitfox Games. She is also the co-founder of Pixelles, a non-profit helping more women make games.
- Lea Schönfelder, the designer of games like Perfect Woman, Ute and Ulitsa Dimitrova. Her games have been presented and awarded worldwide and in turn spark public debate.
- Matt Thorson, a prolific game developer best known for creating IGF award finalist TowerFall.
- John Watson, technical director of Stoic's award-winning Banner Saga. Watson has also worked professionally in game development for over 20 years at BioWare, EA, and Sony.
The Nuovo Award
Now in its eighth year running, the Nuovo Award is intended as a celebration of more esoteric and shorter-form games. The Nuovo jury for IGF 2016 will include the following:
- Zuraida Buter, Playful Culture Curator at zo-ii, co-founder of the Playful Arts Festival, and previously executive director of the Global Game Jam.
- Marie Foulston, curator and producer of mischievous video game larks. She's currently Curator of Videogames for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Queen Roughhouser for the indie game rebel rousing collective Wild Rumpus.
- Robin Hunicke, the co-founder and CEO of the independent game studio Funomena. She co-organizes of the annual GDC Experimental Gameplay session, and is a professor of Art, Games & Playable Media at UCSC.
- Adriaan de Jongh, best known for his work on the awkward finger rubbing game Fingle, mobile ballet-dancing game Bounden, game developer agreement generator contract( ), and as organizer of the Dutch game design meetup playdev.club.
- Ichiro Lambe, best known in the development community for his BASE jumping game, AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! and his British Romantic-era poetry-writing game, Elegy for a Dead World.
- Sos Sosowski, a mad scientist of video games. Created McPixel, Thelemite and many other games nobody ever heard of.
- Doug Wilson, co-owner of Die Gute Fabrik and three-time IGF finalist for Johann Sebastian Joust, B.U.T.T.O.N., and Euclidean Crisis.
The Best Student Game Award
At IGF 2016 the Best Student Game award will be given to a student developer (or team of student developers) to celebrate their submission as a standout example of an impressive, enjoyable and high-quality student-made game. The award will be decided by the following jury members:
- Chris Bell, who helped make the “Best Student Game” of IGF 2012, Way, and is now a game designer at Giant Sparrow currently working on What Remains of Edith Finch. Bell previously served at thatgamecompany where he helped design and produce Journey.
- Ojiro Fumoto, Japan-based indie developer of Downwell, a 2015 IGF Student Showcase finalist.
- Laila Shabir, CEO of LearnDistrict, a studio that develops educational content and games. Shabir also founded Girls Make Games, a global series of summer camps and workshops aimed at teaching video game design / programming to middle and high school girls.
- Dr. Kimberly Voll, a former educator and a current senior technical designer for Riot Games, is best known for her work on ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS and the upcoming Fantastic Contraption for the HTC Vive.
- Kevin Zuhn, the creative director at Young Horses on Octodad: Dadliest Catch and the project lead on earlier IGF Student Award nominee Octodad.
All entries in the 2016 Independent Games Festival are currently browsable at the IGF's official site, where you can also soon find more complete biographical information on all of this year's juries.
Competition finalists will be announced early next year, with the winners announced on the evening of March 16th at the live-streamed IGF Awards ceremony during GDC 2016.
GDC 2016 itself will take place March 14-18th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. For more information on GDC 2016, visit the show's official website, or subscribe to regular updates via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS.
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