The days are getting shorter, the nights are growing colder, and the 2019 Independent Games Festival is about to enter its jurying phase.
As you settle in for the winter, know that the IGF juries (made up of experts in specific disciplines) play, evaluate and discuss the most notable games of the over 500 entered in the 2019 Festival Competition, which together continue to push the boundaries of video game development and design.
Now that the first round of IGF judging is complete (thanks to the efforts of hundreds of evaluators across the industry), these expert juries will meet to determine the finalists and winners of the prestigious IGF 2019 awards at the 2019 Game Developers Conference in March!
To celebrate the efforts of our outstanding jury members, who volunteer their time and talents to help judge these important honors, today we'd like to highlight some of the industry luminaries who have agreed to judge the Nuovo Award, the Excellence in Visual Arts Award, and the Excellence in Audio Award:
The Nuovo Award
Now in its ninth year running, the Nuovo Award is intended as a celebration of more esoteric and artful games. The Nuovo jury for IGF 2019 will include the following members:
- Bennett Foddy: Bennett Foddy is the designer and developer of numerous games including QWOP and Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy. He won the IGF Nuovo award in 2018.
- Sos Sosowski: Mad scientist of video games. Creator of Thelemite, McPixel and many other games you have never heard about. Lover of retro hardware, organiser of 0h Game Jam. co-founder of 7DFPS, co-creator of Doom Piano, formerly a school teacher. Currently on a quest to create the worst video game ever.
- Zuraida Buter: Playful Culture Curator at zo-ii. She is co-founder of Playful Arts Festival which mixes visual art, interactive performance art and playful design. She was previously involved in the Global Game Jam as executive director.
- Lee Vermeulen: Lee Vermeulen is the cofounder of Alientrap, who previously developed the games Apotheon and Cryptark. Current project is Modbox, a VR/AR game development platform
- Pippin Barr: Pippin Barr is an experimental videogame maker who lives and works in Montréal. He's an Assistant Professor at Concordia University and Associate Director of the Technoculture, Art, and Games (TAG) Research Centre.
- Mattias Ljungström: Mattias has been running game studio Space of Play in Berlin since 2009 - making Spirits (2011) and Future Unfolding (2017). He has a long background in Mobile, Console and PC game development. Previously, he was an assistant professor in Game Design and Advanced Media at the University of Applied Science in Potsdam.
- Mark Essen: Mark Essen is the Creative Director and Co-Founder at Messhof, the Los Angeles game dev studio behind Nidhogg and Flywrench.
- Liz Ryerson: Liz Ryerson is an electronic musician, writer, game designer and visual artist. She's also an outspoken critic and hosts an on-again, off-again podcast about digital art called Beyond The Filter.
The Excellence in Visual Art Award
The Visual Art award seeks to celebrate the highlights of innovation and quality in visuals for independent games, and its jury for 2019 is made up of the following experts:
- Jesse Turner: Jesse has been in games as an artist for well over a decade. He works in Vancouver Canada at Klei Entertainment and goes by "The Drawbarian".
- Trudi Castle: Concept artist at Red Hook Games. Avid fan of games, coffee, and motorbikes!
- Chelsea Hash: A 13-year industry Veteran and Technical Art Lead on What Remains of Edith Finch, Chelsea Hash has been developing nimble, design oriented interactive visual systems and pipeline for small teams for a wide range of game platforms, live performance and permanent installation.
- Carrie Witt: Carrie is the Art Director and a developer at Owlchemy Labs, creators of the award winning Job Simulator and Emmy Award nominated Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality. She wears many art hats, but enjoys wearing those heckin’ cool design, bad-joke-writing, and cat whispering hats, too. She’s currently working on the the upcoming VR title Vacation Simulator, where she hopes to retire to someday.
- Orsi Spanyol: Orsi started out as a contract artist at Thekla Inc. to create interesting visual surprises in The Witness. She is now Art Director on Thekla's new project.
- Laura Yilmaz: Laura Yilmaz is an art/animation director specializing in 2D traditional animation and illustration. She has worked with many of the most respected animation and motion graphics studios around Los Angeles including Buck Design, ShadowMachine, and Gentleman Scholar, and is an adjunct faculty instructor of animation at the University of Southern California. She is a lifelong gamer turned indie game enthusiast and truly terrible code tinkerer.
- Chandana Ekanayake: Co-founder, Studio, and Creative Director at Outerloop Games working on Falcon Age.
- Jane Ng: Jane is passionate about environment art and was part of the team (Campo Santo) which created Firewatch. She is now working on the team's second game In the Valley of Gods at Valve.
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. The following jurors will decide who takes home the prize in 2019:
- Daniel Rosenfeld: Daniel Rosenfeld is a composer and sound designer, famously for Minecraft. He's currently working on an unannounced game with Davey Wreden, creator of Stanley Parable.
- Eduardo Ortiz Frau: Eduardo Ortiz Frau is a game audio designer based in Austin, TX. He has worked in audio and music production since 2004, and has focused on sound design for video games since 2011. Throughout his career he has worked on titles such as Everything, What Remains of Edith Finch, Gorogoa, The Stanley Parable, and more. He has a preference for working with small creative teams and is always on the lookout for projects that spark a sense of wonder and curiosity he desires in his work life.
- Sarah Elmaleh: Sarah Elmaleh (@selmaleh) is a SAG-AFTRA actor and voiceover artist, best known for voicing player character Katie in Gone Home. She can be heard in critically acclaimed indies such as Pyre, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, and Galak-Z, as well as AAA titles such as Final Fantasy XV and For Honor (as The Raider.) Active in the games community as a developer advocate and proponent of deeper actor/dev collaboration, she has also judged, organized or spoken at major games festivals and conferences such as GDC, IGF, IndieCade, and Games for Change.
- Shawn Pierre: Shawn Pierre finds himself working on non-traditional games in Philadelphia, PA. He also works as a festival organizer, and Project Director for Philly Game Mechanics.
- Ali Cedroni: Ali Cedroni is a freelance sound designer from Chicago IL, who recently (and somewhat spontaneously) made the decision to quit her day job, sell everything she owned, and moved 4000 miles across the Atlantic to pursue full-time freelance in Oslo, Norway. She has worked on a variety of projects in all facets of the entertainment industry, including games, film, and music.
- Matt Boch: Matt Boch is an Associate Professor in game design at the NYU Game Center. He also served for over a decade at Harmonix Music Systems as a Creative Director, designing and directing of some of Harmonix’s premier titles. He is presently working as an independent game developer & sound designer, crafting the ambitious music system & sound design of the forthcoming game Ape Out.
- Anna Kipnis: Anna Kipnis started her game development career at Double Fine Productions, as a Gameplay Programmer in 2002, and has worked on Psychonauts (2005), Brütal Legend (2009), Costume Quest (2010), Once Upon a Monster (2011), The Cave (2012), Dear Leader (2014), Broken Age (2015), and Headlander (2016). She is active in the indie game community and has collaborated with Santa Ragione on Final Candidation (2013) and Wheels of Aurelia (2016), and was the founding organizer of Molyjam (2012-13). Anna has served on the IGF technical jury, the Global Game Jam theme committee, and as an adviser for UCSC's MS Games & Playable Media program.
All entries in the 2019 Independent Games Festival are currently browseable 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.