The Game Developers Conference is getting amped up for the IGF Awards, and here's who will be judging our incredible selection of games for GDC 2023.
Now that the first round of IGF judging is complete (thanks to the efforts of hundreds of evaluators across the industry), GDC is thrilled to unveil the first group of jurors for the 2023 IGF Awards. The IGF juries are made up of experts in specific disciplines—who will play, evaluate, and discuss the most-standout games entered in the 2023 Independent Games Festival competition.
Here are the jurors who will be judging games in the Nuovo Award, the Excellence in Design Award, and the Excellence in Narrative Award categories:
The Nuovo Award
Ben Gelinas: Ben Gelinas is a veteran games writer and designer with one foot in indie and the other in AAA. His credits include writing and editing on Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mass Effect 3, Andromeda, Control, and most recently Gotham Knights. Ben also co-created the weird conversation sim Speed Dating for Ghosts through his tiny Edmonton studio Copychaser Games, and is currently working on a space journalism adventure game called Times & Galaxy.
Kimberly Voll: Kim Voll is a game developer and researcher who specialises in both AI and player dynamics. She is the studio head at Brace Yourself Games and also helps run the Fair Play Alliance, a global coalition of nearly 300 gaming companies focused on healthier, inclusive gaming, which she co-founded in 2017. Kim has also released several independent games, including Fantastic Contraption for VR.
Liz Ryerson: Liz Ryerson is a composer, designer, and writer currently based in NYC. As a critic, she is an outspoken advocate for niche games and culture on the margins. She also occasionally teaches game design and podcasts about digital culture.
Noah Sasso: Noah is a game designer and composer whose work has been displayed and performed around the world. Creator of Sportsfriends' BaraBariBall and the beloved @infinitedeserts, he currently works as lead world designer on Rumbleverse.
Bennett Foddy: Bennett Foddy is a New York-based independent game designer. He designed QWOP, GIRP, and Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, the latter of which won the IGF Nuovo award in 2018. Until 2021, he taught game design at the NYU Game Center.
Jennifer Schneidereit: Jennifer Schneidereit is a game designer, programmer and creative director. Her games are Tengami and Astrologaster. In 2010, she co-founded the independent studio Nyamyam.
Pippin Barr: Pippin Barr is an experimental videogame designer and Associate Professor of Computation Arts at Concordia University in Montréal. He's made games about everything from airplane safety instructions to the future of work to "nothing" itself. His forthcoming book, The Stuff Games Are Made Of, explores game design in terms of the materials of videogames, from user interfaces to money.
Excellence in Design
Jenny Xu: Jenny Xu is a long-distance runner, artist, programmer, gamer, farmer, Forbes 30 Under 30: Games recipient, and CEO of Talofa Games. She started making games and running at age 12, and in her 12 years in the gaming industry, she’s shipped 10 titles on the mobile app stores with over 9.2 million downloads. She was the grand prize winner of the Niantic Beyond Reality Contest in 2019, right after she graduated from MIT studying Computer Science.
Kevin Zuhn: Kevin Zuhn is the creative director at Young Horses Inc. They've worked as a director, level designer, and writer on Octodad, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, and Bugsnax.
Ben Wilson: Ben Wilson is an indie-turned-AAA turned-indie again game maker from the UK. He's currently at Die Gute Fabrik, working as the Creative Producer on their next project.
Atlas Chen: Atlas Chen is a game designer and design manager at thatgamecompany. He is interested in exploring the spiritual potential of games to enable compassion and insight. His work includes Sky: Children of the Light, and Gemini - A Journey of Two Stars.
Megan Fox: Megan Fox is the queer af founder of Glass Bottom Games. She made SkateBIRD! Also Hot Tin Roof etc. Also a BAFTA Breakthrough. She makes video games from a barn in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.
Luis Antonio: Luis Antonio is the creator/writer of the award-winning Twelve Minutes, featuring James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and Willem Dafoe. He is known for his remarkable work as a senior 3D artist for the BAFTA Games award-winning The Witness; his earlier work includes Art Director at Ubisoft and Artist at Rockstar Games.
Liz England: Liz England has been a game designer focused around simulation, procedural generation, and narrative systems for about 15 years, working a variety of games ranging from Scribblenauts to Watch Dogs Legion. She's currently Game Director at Possibility Space.
Marina Díez: Marina Díez (she/they) is a Spanish award-winning game designer and filmmaker based in Berlin and London, UK. She's the CEO at Three of Cups Games, an ethical and diverse games studio based in London.
Excellence in Narrative
Kate Gray: Kate Gray is a narrative designer, game writer, and game journalist with a particular interest in writing SMOOCHY dialogue. You can see her work on Apple Arcade exclusive Winding Worlds and upcoming adventure game Moonstone Island.
Andrew Plotkin: Andrew Plotkin has been playing interactive fiction since there were home computers, and tried writing some shortly thereafter. Now he builds narrative tools for The Molasses Flood. In his spare time, he helps run an IF nonprofit foundation.
Darshana Jayemanne: Darshana Jayemanne is Lecturer in Games and Arts at Abertay University. His book "Performativity in Art, Literature and Videogames" examines our experience of time and narrative in games. In addition to digital narratives, he researches young people's creativity and safety in digital game spaces.
Leena van Deventer: Leena van Deventer is the Creative Producer and Writer at Reuben Games, making Dead Static Drive. She taught interactive storytelling at multiple Australian universities over seven years, and wrote “Game Changers” for Affirm Press in 2016. She sits on the Board of Directors at the Victorian Women’s Trust.
Shawn Frison: Shawn has been working as a game designer for 21 years. More recently, he began getting involved in narrative design and writing, starting with the award-winning SpecOps: The Line. His writing credits include SpecOps, Curious Expedition 2, and The Fermi Paradox.
Kristina Drzaic: Kristina Drzaic is a Principle Writer and Narrative Designer. She is best known for her wrk on Halo 5: Guardians, the BioShock series and Galak-Z.
Cat Manning: Cat Manning is a narrative lead at Firaxis, formerly at Riot (League of Legends & internal R&D). Her prior work includes Where the Water Tastes like Wine, Pathologic 2, What Isn't Saved (will be lost), contributions to the cult favorite Blaseball, and the Nebula-nominated Scents & Semiosis.
Head here to check out all entries in the 2023 Independent Games Festival. Competition finalists will be announced early next year, with the winners announced at the IGF Awards on Wednesday, March 22 (with a simultaneous broadcast on GDC Twitch) at the Game Developers Conference, which takes place at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.
GDC returns to San Francisco this March 20-24, 2023, and registration is now open! For more information, be sure to visit our website and follow the #GDC23 hashtag on social media.
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Cat Manning is a narrative lead at Firaxis, formerly at Riot (League of Legends & internal R&D). Her prior work includes Where the Water Tastes like Wine, Pathologic 2, What Isn't Saved (will be lost), contributions to the cult favorite Blaseball, and the Nebula-nominated Scents & Semiosis.