As the year winds down around us, the 2017 Independent Games Festival is entering its jurying phase -- the period in which discipline-specific experts play, evaluate and discuss the 650+ games entered in the 2017 Festival Competition, which together continue to push the boundaries of video game development and design.
Of course, an excellent group of game development notables are evaluating IGF 2017's most promising entries. After first-round IGF judging from hundreds of evaluators, these expert juries will ultimately determine the finalists and winners of the various IGF 2017 awards at the 2017 Game Developers Conference.
In recognition of their service, today we'd like to celebrate those who have volunteered their time and talent to take part in judging the Excellence in Design Award, the Excellence in Audio Award, and the Excellence in Narrative Award.
Also, we should point out that every IGF award juror will have a say in who wins the festival's top honor, the Seumas McNally Grand Prize!
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:
Lisy Kane - Lisy Kane is a Melbourne-based games producer. She has worked on internationally released titles Armello (2015) and Hand of Fate (2015) and the unreleased title Push Me Pull You. During her career Lisy has progressed from Associate Producer to Producer on Armello, overseeing the international release across Steam (PC/Mac/Linux), DRM Free and PlayStation 4. Armello has received both national and international acclaim.
Luis Antonio - Luis has over 10 years experience in the industry. He worked at Rockstar Games as an artist and later Ubisoft as Lead and eventually Art Director. Dissatisfied with the AAA studios, he joined Jonathan Blow to create the island for The Witness. Currently doing his solo project, an interactive thriller about a time loop called Twelve Minutes.
Sarah Northway - Sarah is the creator of the Rebuild strategy series, and a programmer and designer on Fantastic Contraption VR. She spent 5 years travelling the world with her husband and making indie games in remote places, and now explores the worlds inside her Vive.
Lucas Pope - Lucas Pope is an independent game developer trying to make interesting unique games. He made "Papers, Please" and a long string of less high-profile games before it.
Randy Smith - Randy Smith is the co-owner and creative director of Tiger Style, creators of Waking Mars and the 2009 IGF Mobile Game of the Year, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor. Randy was previously a game designer and creative director at Electronic Arts, ION Storm Austin, and Looking Glass Studios.
Naomi Clark - Naomi Clark teaches game design in Brooklyn as part of the faculty of the NYU Game Center. Over the last couple decades, she's worked as a game designer, producer, or writer on over three dozen games for various audiences, platforms and media.
Theresa Duringer - Theresa Duringer is the CEO of Temple Gates Games, a Silicon Valley based VR game studio. She’s best known for creating Ascension VR, Bazaar and Cannon Brawl.
The Excellence in Audio Award
As always, the Excellence in Audio Award is intended to celebrate the best musical and sound innovation, quality, and impressiveness in independent gaming. This year the following jurors will decide who takes home the prize:
Baiyon - Japanese multimedia artist, sound producer, art director and DJ. Q-Games creative producer. art and music direction for PixelJunk Eden and 4am, music for LittleBigPlanet 2, FOTONICA, and PANORAMICAL.
Roger 'Rekcahdam' Hicks - Roger Hicks, known by his stage name "Rekcahdam," is a music producer, video game & app developer. Roger decided to fuse his interest in programming with that of his artistic passions and went on to become a freelance game developer, sound engineer and session musician. His most notable works include his game Celestial Mechanica and his percussion recordings for the hit show "Steven Universe".
Adam "doseone" Drucker - Adam "doseone" Drucker is a Composer, Sound Designer, Rapper & Cat lover from Oakland California. He has been recording albums since the late 90's, and executing Sound Design and Music for Independent Video Games for the past 5 years. He is currently finishing up all things audio for Gang Beasts and has worked on Enter The Gungeon, Samurai Gunn, Catacomb Kids, Gun Gods, Heavy Bullets & more.
Davey Wreden - Davey did words and design and a variety of other tiny roles on The Stanley Parable and The Beginner's Guide. Today he lives in Austin, TX.
Sarah Elmaleh - Voice actor, advocate for games performance and development. Can be heard in indies such as Gone Home, Galak-Z, Gravity Ghost, Skulls of the Shogun, Redshirt, and more.
Daniel Rosenfeld - Daniel Rosenfeld is a composer, designer and consultant, mostly known from Minecraft. He is currently researching the significance of audio as a stimuli for game design. He's also a nerd.
The Excellence in Narrative Award
The following jurors have been chosen to decide IGF's Excellence in Narrative award, which recognizes innovation, quality and excellent storytelling in a game:
Justin Amirkhani - Creative Director of Vagabond Dog and Lead Designer/Writer for Always Sometimes Monsters, and Sometimes Always Monsters. His work is best known for its exhaustive approach to branching narratives, and focus on player-directed storytelling. Prior to creating games and a studio, he traveled the country as a penniless backpacking journalist to interview developers and learn their truths.
Sam Barlow - Sam Barlow is the award winning creator of the IGF Grand Prize winning game about a woman talking to the police, "Her Story." Prior to that he made the cult 1999 text game "Aisle" and directed the Silent Hill game that profiled its players, "Shattered Memories."
Andrew Plotkin - Andrew Plotkin has been playing interactive fiction since there were home computers, and tried writing some shortly thereafter. He now tends to his indie game label and helps run an IF non-profit foundation.
Kristina Drzaic - Kristina Drzaic is a narrative designer and writer, currently developing a secret project at Amazon Game Studios. She is best known for her work on Halo 5: Guardians, BioShock Infinite and Galak-Z.
Dietrich Squinkifer - Mx. Dietrich Squinkifer (Squinky) is a writer, programmer, musician, and visual artist who creates games and playable experiences about gender identity, social awkwardness, and miscellaneous silliness. Some of their previous works include Dominique Pamplemousse in "It's All Over Once The Fat Lady Sings!" and Coffee: A Misunderstanding. They currently live in Montreal, Canada, where they are pursuing a PhD at Concordia University.
Guillaume Provost - Guillaume has worked with Independent Game Developers for 20 years. He is the founder and creative director of Compulsion Games, the independent studio behind Contrast and We Happy Few.
Steph Cherrywell - Steph has written and illustrated two indie graphic novels and several text adventures, including Brain Guzzlers From Beyond!, the winner of the 2015 Interactive Fiction Competition.
All entries in the 2017 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 1st at the (livestreamed!) IGF Awards ceremony during GDC 2017.
Also, don't miss your opportunity to save money by registering early -- the deadline to register for passes at a discounted rate is January 18, 2017. GDC 2017 itself will take place February 27th - March 3rd at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
For more information on GDC 2017, visit the show's official website, or subscribe to regular updates via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS.