2024 Independent Games Festival Competition Rules
The Independent Games Festival Competition (the “Contest”) is being sponsored by Informa (the “Sponsor”) in connection with the Game Developers Conference to be held March 18 - March 22, 2024, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California (the “Conference”). Each person or entity who enters the Contest (each, an “Entrant”) agrees to abide by the terms of these Official Rules and by the decisions of the Sponsor and its judges, which are final and binding on all matters pertaining to the Contest.
HOW TO ENTER:
To enter the Contest, an Entrant who is otherwise eligible under these Official Rules must submit all of the following materials at any time between 12:00 am PDT on September 7, 2023 and 11:59 pm PDT on October 11, 2023 (the “Entry Deadline”):
- A properly completed official entry form, located on the Contest application page of Sponsor’s website, www.igf.com (the “Contest Website”).
- A digital copy of the game being entered (an “Entered Game”), submitted by uploading an initial version of the title to the official IGF site, or posting a URL with a playable web game.
- Independent Games Festival (IGF) organizers would like to encourage submissions from those making interesting or experimental works who, because of the fee, might otherwise not enter the contest. Those creators interested in applying for a waiver of the full ($75) entry fee can submit initial details on their game here. Waiver applications should be submitted by Ocotober 1, 2023. If selected, entrants will be invited to submit to the IGF 2024 without paying the entry fee.
- For those Entrants who were part-time or full-time college or high school students during the spring and/or summer 2023 semester (or local equivalent) prior to, or, who are current part-time or full-time college or high school students during the fall 2023 semester at the time they are submitting their entry, the $75 fee is reduced to a $25 non-refundable fee, which must be submitted by credit card on the Contest Website. Student entries are additionally eligible for the Best Student Game award, in addition to all other IGF awards. Non-student entrants are not eligible for the Best Student Game award. Please see the "RESTRICTIONS/ELIBILITY" section for more information on student entries.
All physical entry materials become the property of the Sponsor and will not be returned (no IP rights are affected).
All Entrants will have some of their submission information listed on the igf.com website after the Entry Deadline has passed, in the month of January 2024. The information listed will include the game title, creator, school name (if applicable), an image from the game, a link to the game website, the description of the game, and a video link.
The IGF Competition is open to independent games developed on PC, console, mobile, handheld platforms, and VR. Please contact the event organizers if your game uses an alternative platform.
FINALIST SELECTION PROCESS/NOTIFICATION:
Entered Games initially will be evaluated by a selection of judges comprised of a total of 250-300 individuals picked by the Sponsor (the “Nominating Committee”). Members of the Nominating Committee may include independent and 'mainstream' professional game designers, notable indie-friendly video game journalists, and other individuals familiar with video game design.
The Nominating Committee will review the Entered Games and select finalists during approximately the period from the Entry Deadline to November 2023 (the “Nominating Period”) for all categories except the Audience Award and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. Each member of the Nominating Committee will have the option to recommend each Entered Game in each of the following categories (each, a “Category”) except for the Audience Award and Seumas McNally Grand Prize:
- Excellence in Visual Art: Nominations will be based on the quality and impressiveness of each Entered Game's appearance and visual effects.
- Excellence in Audio: Nominations will be based on the quality and impressiveness of each Entered Game's music, voice acting, and sound effects.
- Excellence in Design: Nominations will be based on the quality and execution of each Entered Game's design, including game mechanic design, level design, and difficulty balancing.
- Excellence in Narrative: Nominations will be based on quality and impressiveness of storytelling in a game - including, but not limited to, scenario, plot construction, story, dialogue, and other major factors.
- Nuovo Award: The Nuovo award is given to the game that most fearlessly executes a challenging, unusual, or idiosyncratic approach to game making, takes substantive risks, and makes jurors think differently about games as a medium.
- Best Student Game: Nominations will be based on the overall quality, impressiveness and enjoyability of the Entered Game.
- Audience Award: Public voters will vote for their favorite finalist via an online form that will be open in January 2024 - the game with the most votes will win the award.
- Seumas McNally Grand Prize: This Category is open to all Entered Games. Nominations will be based on the overall innovation, quality, impressiveness, and enjoyability of each Entered Game.
Potential finalist and finalist games will be further evaluated by a panel of approximately seven (7) to fifteen (15) jurors for each category, all appointed by the Sponsor (the “Finalist Committee”). Members of the Finalist Committee may include independent and 'mainstream' professional game designers, notable indie-friendly video game journalists, and other individuals familiar with video game design, and will be chosen for their professional specialization or other suitability in each Category except for the Audience Award.
The Finalist Committee for each category will evaluate all entries, with special attention given to those highlighted by the Nominating Committee. The six  Entered Games receiving the most votes from the Finalist Committee in each Category (the Nuovo Award Category will include eight  nominations) except for the Audience Award will qualify as a “Finalist Game.” In or around the beginning January 2024, the Sponsor will notify each Entrant that the Entrant’s Entered Game was judged to be a Finalist Game (each such Entrant, a “Finalist”).
Any Finalist that does not satisfy all of the requirements of this section may be disqualified, and Sponsor may select an alternate Finalist Game from the remaining Entered Games.
Each Finalist will be required to exhibit its Finalist Game at the Conference. Exhibition duties will include: (i) demonstrating the Finalist Game during specified hours and (ii) conducting oneself in a manner that upholds the good name and reputation of Sponsor, the Conference, and the Contest. Sponsor will provide a means to display the Finalist game at the Conference in the IGF Pavilion.
Any individual Finalist who is unable to attend may officially nominate a proxy attendee (the name and contact details of which to be electronically mailed to the organizer within fourteen (14) days after notification of nomination has been sent to the Finalist). Proxy attendees must perform the same duties as the actual Finalists.
Each Finalist will receive a $1,000 travel stipend, then will be responsible for all other costs of their own travel, meals, accommodations, and equipment in connection with the Contest and the Conference.
Each Finalist will receive:
- Two (2) GDC All Access passes (or equivalent) to the Conference
- Up to Five (5) Exhibitor Passes (or equivalent) to allow access to the GDC Show Floor to showcase their games.
- A mention in the IGF Awards Show program; and
- Permission to use a version of the official Contest name and finalist logo in promotional materials relating to the Finalist Game.
The Finalist prizes will be made available to each Finalist after receipt of the declaration and release mentioned in the Finalist Requirements section of these Official Rules and confirmation of attendance at the Conference.
WINNER SELECTION PROCESS:
Entrant games will be selected and evaluated by a panel of approximately seven (7) to fifteen (15) jurors appointed by the Sponsor (the “Finalist Committee”). Members of the Finalist Committee may include independent and 'mainstream' professional game designers, notable indie-friendly video game journalists, and other individuals familiar with video game design, and will be chosen for their professional specialization or other suitability in each Category.
Each member of the Finalist Committee will vote for one or multiple titles from the Finalist Games in each Category except for the Audience Award. The Finalist Game with the most votes in a Category is the “Winning Game” for that Category. In addition, members of the public and prospective Conference attendees will select their favorite Finalist Game as a Winning Game in an additional Category called the “Audience Award” Category via online voting.
All Winning Games will be announced at the Conference on March 20, 2024.
Each Finalist who submits the Winning Game in a Category (each, a “Winner”) will receive the prize indicated below for that Category:
Seumas McNally Grand Prize - $10,000
Excellence in Visual Art - $,2000
Excellence in Audio - $2,000
Excellence in Design - $2,000
Excellence in Narrative - $2,000
Nuovo Award - $2,000
Best Student Game - $2,000
Audience Award - $2,000
In addition to the monetary prizes, each Winner will receive an award trophy and a license to use a version of the official Contest name and winner logo in promotional materials relating to the Winning Game.
The Seumas McNally Grand Prize Winner also will receive three (3) GDC All Access Passes (or equivalent) to the 2025 Game Developers Conference.
All monetary amounts in these Official Rules are indicated in United States dollars and all monetary prizes will be awarded in the form of checks or money orders in United States dollars. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute any non-monetary prizes with items of equal or greater value. Each Finalist and Winner will be solely responsible for bearing any income or other taxes, fees, or other costs relating to any prize.
All prizes will be awarded at the Conference where possible. It is possible that some or all Winners may be offered gifts from Conference sponsors or other third parties. Sponsor makes no representation or warranty that any such gifts will be offered or received, does not endorse any such gifts, and is in no way responsible for any such gifts.
Sponsor does not know how many games will be entered in the Contest. However, participation in the Main IGF Competition held by Sponsor over previous years was as follows: 2023 - 524 games entered; 2022 - 408 games entered; 2021 - 504 games entered; 2020 - 575 games entered; 2019 - 518 games entered; 2018 - 585 games entered; 2017 - 670 games entered; 2016 - 774 games entered; 2015 -639 games entered; 2014 - 656 games entered; 2013 - 586 games entered; 2012 - 567 games entered; 2011 - 391 games entered; 2010 - 306 games entered; 2009 - 226 games entered; 2008 - 173 games entered; 2007 - 141 games entered; 2006 - 118 games entered; 2005 - 78 games entered; 2004 - 111 games entered.
The Contest is open only to business entities and to individuals who are 18 years or older, in each case who have access to the Internet on or before September 7, 2023.
Student Requirements: For all part-time or full-time college or high school students during the Spring and/or summer 2023 semester (or local equivalent) prior to, or, who are current part-time or full-time college or high school students during the fall 2023 semester at the time they are submitting their entry, the $75 fee is reduced to a $25 non-refundable fee. If a student game has been developed with significant portions of the assets contributed by non-students, it is not eligible for entry as a student game. If entrants to the Contest are in doubt about the amount of externally created or contributed content in their game, please contact the organizers for clarification.
The Sponsor, Nominating Committee, and Finalist Committee reserve the right to refuse any game at its sole discretion. Should a game be deemed ineligible as a student entry, the Entrant will be able to enter the game for all other major award categories.
Individuals under the age of 18 years must provide evidence of parent or legal guardian consent satisfactory to Sponsor. Sponsor, its parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates, and its advertising, promotion, and production agencies, as well as employees of any of the foregoing, members of such employees' immediate families (including spouse, parents, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, step-children, step-parents and in-laws), and persons with whom such employees are domiciled, are not eligible. In addition to the foregoing general eligibility requirements, the following additional requirements must be met:
- Independently Created: The Nominating Committee must be confident that the submitted game was created in the 'indie spirit' by an independent game developer, fulfilling the question asked on the entry form. The Nominating Committee reserves the right to refuse any game at its sole discretion.
- Rights: Before submitting an Entered Game, the Entrant must have obtained the written permission of all persons or entities having any rights in the Entered Game.
- Updates: Entered Game updates are permitted during the Nominating Period. Patched updates from competitors via the web portal will be permitted throughout the judging process. However, Sponsor does not guarantee the viewing or application of every patch/update by the Nominating Committee or Finalist Committee.
- State of Development: All Entered Games must either be currently released, or be substantially feature-complete. You must have intent, at the time of submission, to release the game within 12 months of the IGF Ceremony if your game is not already released or publicly playable.
- Platform: Entered Games may run on any platform (Windows, Mac, console, mobile/handheld, etc.). We cannot guarantee that the Nominating Committee or Finalist Committee will have access to any special hardware required to play your game.
- Finalists: Finalist games from previous years are not eligible for re-submission into the Competition. This does not apply to honorable mentions.
By entering the Contest, each Entrant releases and holds harmless Sponsor, its parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates, and each of their respective officers, directors, agents, and employees from any and all responsibility or liability arising out of or relating to: (i) any personal injury, death, property (including computer) damage, or other loss or claim of any kind arising from or in connection with any violation of these Official Rules; the Contest, the Conference or any Entered Game; the acceptance, possession, or use of any prize; or any travel required by the Contest; (ii) any entry or other materials that have been tampered with, that are misdirected, incomplete, incorrect, non-conforming, corrupt, lost, late, or ineligible, or, with respect to mail-in entries or materials, that are sent postage due; and (iii) computer, telephone, cable, satellite, network, hardware, software, or other technical malfunctions or failures; garbled or jumbled transmissions; Internet or website inaccessibility or delays; printing or typographical errors in any Contest or Conference materials; or any other technical or human errors occurring in connection with the Contest or Conference.
By entering the Contest, each individual submitting entry materials (including an Entered Game) represents and warrants to Sponsor that:
- such individual either is the Entrant (if the Entrant is an individual) or is a fully authorized representative of the Entrant (if the Entrant is a business entity);
- the Entrant and the Entered Game fully comply with all eligibility requirements and all other provisions of these Official Rules;
- in preparing the Entered Game and entering and participating in the Contest and the Conference, the Entrant has complied and will comply in all respects with all applicable laws, regulations, and rules and has not violated nor will violate any agreement or understanding by which it is bound, including any confidentiality, employment, consulting, intellectual property assignment, or license agreement;
- the Entered Game consists entirely of Entrant's own original work or of work to which Entrant has all necessary rights; and
- neither the Entered Game nor the duplication, use, display, performance, or distribution of the Entered Game will infringe or misappropriate any intellectual property or other proprietary rights of any person or entity.
Sponsor reserves the right to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the Contest in its sole and absolute discretion if the Contest becomes technically corrupted or is not capable of being run as planned, including infections by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures or any other causes beyond the control of the Sponsor that corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of the Contest. In such event, Sponsor will post notice at the Conference and on the Contest Website and will implement an alternate means for awarding all prizes.
If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, illegal, or otherwise unenforceable, such part will be deemed modified or eliminated to the extent necessary, in the court's opinion, to make it enforceable while preserving the original intent of the Sponsor, and the remaining parts of these Official Rules will remain in full force and effect. The Contest will be governed by, and these Official Rules will be interpreted by, and enforced in accordance with, the laws of the State of California and applicable United States federal law, without regard to any conflicts of laws principles. The Contest is void where prohibited by law. Any dispute arising out of or relating to these Official Rules, the Contest, the Conference, or any prize must be brought exclusively in the state or federal courts located in San Francisco, California, and Sponsor and each Entrant irrevocably waive any objection to the venue and jurisdiction thereof.
As part of your entry, Informa may contact you via email regarding the GDC Play service for independent game creators taking place during Game Developers Conference.
WINNERS' LIST :
For the name of the Winners, which will be available after March 20, 2024, check the Contest Website or send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:
2023 Independent Games Festival Competition
c/o Informa Tech
85 Second Street
Suite 500, South Tower
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: (212) 600 3580