Welcome back to Game Informer’s annual Indie Week – a celebration of little studios with big ideas – leading up to the 2011 Independent Game Festival Awards. Over the next seven days we’ll be taking a look at more than 25 titles nominated in seven unique categories, providing perspective on the cutting edge of independent game development.

To kick off the festivities, we’ve broken down the importance of the IGF to indie developers and listed what content you can expect in the following week. Check the feed daily for Indie Week updates, or bookmark this page for links to fresh content.


A spotlight on the 13th annual  Independent Games Festival Awards
Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Game Informer (#215)

Another new year marks the return of the perennial Game Developers Conference, and subsequently the premiere festival celebrating the best games and the brightest minds in independent gaming. The 13th annual Independent Games Festival Awards herald the convergence of indie icons and luminaries in San Francisco, where an elite few will walk away with a sizable cash prize. Perhaps more significant than the monetary award, they also leave with the eyes of the industry on their work.

The awards are broken down into categories acknowledging excellence in design, art, audio, technical prowess, and more. Leading the pack of nominees are Frictional Games’ Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Markus “Notch” Persson’s sandbox phenomenon Minecraft, each garnering a trio of nods. Other prominent indie titles are up for accolades, including Supergiant’s stunning debut title Bastion and Gaijin Games’ colorful Bit.Trip Runner. In the true spirit of the show, nominees range from one-person startups to established studios, all united under the indie banner.

Competition was particularly stiff this year, with over 400 games submitted for consideration by the IGF, topping the record-breaking 306 entries catalouged in 2009. The 2011 festivities also welcome the Best Mobile Game award to the fold, marking a convergence of two previously segregated conference tracks. The decision seems particularly relevant this year, as 2009 Seumas McNally Grand Prize winner Erik Svedang’s newest venture, Shot Shot Shoot, was developed and nominated for the iPad.

The influx of entries merited an even more stringent evaluation process this year. A pool of over 150 judges took on the daunting task of playing and evaluating each submission before nominating their top choices for a given category. From there, the nominations were passed onto smaller juries within discipline-specific fields, comprised of working professionals who could speak to an area of expertise – audio, technical, art, or otherwise. This pool is responsible for the final list of nominees, and the ultimate winners will be chosen by an even more select jury of experts.

Nearly $50,000 is on the line, with the winners slated to be announced on the evening of March 2 immediately preceding the 2011 Game Developer Choice Awards. The ceremony is the culmination of the Independent Games Summit, which packs lectures, presentations, and intelligent indie discourse into the two days prior to the main conference kickoff.

Regularly compared to the Sundance Film Festival, the attention garnered from an IGF nod is staggering for an indie developer, and often a launching point for a successful career. The developers of Darwinia, Braid, World of Goo, and more recently Limbo avoided potential obscurity when the IGF recognized their phenomenal work, and we expect to see more indie heavyweights born from this most recent showcase.


2/24 - Indie Week Day One: Excellence in Visual Art ($2,500 Prize)

  • Bastion 
  • Bit.Trip.Runner 
  • Cave Story - 2010 Edition 
  • The Dream Machine 
  • Hohokum

2/25 - Indie Week Day Two: Technical Excellence ($2,500 Prize)

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • Confetti Carnival 
  • Miegakure 
  • Minecraft 
  • Neverdaunt: 8Bit

2/26- Indie Week Day Three: Excellence in Design ($2,500 Prize)

  • Desktop Dungeons
  • Faraway 
  • Minecraft 
  • Nidhogg 
  • Super Crate Box

2/27 - Indie Week Day Four: Excellence in Audio ($2,500 Prize)

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • Bastion 
  • Bit.Trip Beat 
  • Cobalt 
  • Retro City Rampage

2/28 - Indie Week Day Five: Best Mobile Game ($2,500 Prize)

  • Colorbind
  • Halcyon 
  • Helsing's Fire 
  • Shot Shot Shoot 
  • Solipskier

3/1 - Indie Week Day Six: Nuovo Award ($2,500 Prize)

  • Bohm
  • Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now (B.U.T.T.O.N.) 
  • The Cat and the Coup 
  • Dinner Date 
  • Hazard: The Journey Of Life 
  • A House in California 
  • Loop Raccord 
  • Nidhogg

3/2 - Indie Week Day Seven: Seumas McNally Grand Prize ($20,000 Prize)

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • Desktop Dungeons 
  • Minecraft 
  • Nidhogg 
  • SpyParty

3/2 - Winners: 2011 Independent Games Festival Awards