IndieCade 2020 Award Winners
Editor’s Note: InfinityWaltz contributed substantially to this article.
It was the year that will be remembered as “unprecedented” for so many reasons we have lost count, and part of that was a billion festivals having to suddenly find a socially distanced, virtual solution as fast as possible…or perish. SXSW and GDC got positively steamrolled by the wave of the pandemic that started to really upend society around March. And E3, where IndieCade got its start, was a bust.
But by the time October came around, the month where the IGR team typically makes its pilgrimage to Los Angeles’ Westside – except for those years where it took place in Little Tokyo or at USC – IndieCade organizers Stephanie Barish, Sam Roberts, Celia Pearce and company had found a way to attempt this very social and tactile show as an online event.
A combination of Discord, Zoom, Twitch, Itch.io and even Second Life comprised the matrix of interactive possibilities. Admittedly it was a bit tough to navigate, find the games, figure out what was live and what was a repeat viewing, but before long, the community bubbled up, and we made tons of discoveries, learned lots of things, had lots of laughs…and it was almost as good as being there.
Well, no, not even close, because Indiecade is truly an amazing in-person event. However, we were really glad to get what we did and that the organizers made an honest go of it.
Every year, the IndieCade awards have been a highlight not just of the show but of the year, a veritable who’s who of indie game developer royalty, legends and brilliant ingenues. We are often surprised by some of the winners because we have never heard of them before or even knew they had a game there (there is a lot to get through, even with five writers on-site). It’s also always set in a great location and full of guffaws and bad puns.
So this year it was a little bittersweet to have it all happen over a Zoom-style presentation, but they made the most of it, and we were still exposed to some awesome new titles that make life more interesting while inspiring us with their evocative designs and ideas.
IndieCade’s annual award ceremony took place virtually this year, but – like the festival itself – represented something of a high point for IndieCade, with honors going to the likes of Derek Yu, Holly Gramazio and Nathalie Lawhead as well as some promising newcomers.
Founder and CEO Barish pointed out an unexpected blessing of moving the festival online: “By broadening our reach for the 2020 Festival to a global, virtual audience, we were able to connect with more indie developers, players and fans than ever before and celebrate top achievement across the indie games community,” she stated. “This year’s award winners represent diversity in both talent and gameplay and reflect the power of games as an art form, entertainment medium and tool to spark change.”
Check out the video of IndieCade 2020’s nominees in this official video from IndieCade:
The Complete List of IndieCade 2020 Award Winners
Innovation in Interaction Design
Electric Zine Maker
Innovation in Experience Design
The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED]
by TFL Studios
The Jury Prix Award
Wide Ocean Big Jacket
The Grand Jury Award
by Die Gute Fabrik
The Bernie DeKoven Big Fun Award
Holly Gramazio has done it all, from writing on games like Dicey Dungeons to directing games festivals like Now Play This, but it’s her work on large-scale collaborative games and installations that earned her the Bernie DeKoven Big Fun Award (she also recently worked with DeKoven himself on his last book, The Infinite Playground).
The Trailblazer Award
Given to “a creator who has made both great contributions to the field of games and captures the independent and pioneering spirit,” this year’s Trailblazer Award goes to Derek Yu, creator of Spelunky, one of the most popular and critically acclaimed indie games of all time, and this year’s sequel, which many are already saying is even better than its predecessor. In addition to that, and his work on Aquaria, Yu also promoted the indie scene as editor in chief of news site TIGsource.
The Game Changer Award
Celebrating someone “who has impacted the gaming landscape in a significant way, a positive disruptor who has brought a paradigm shift to the community,” this year’s Game Changer Award goes to Zuraida Buter. Perhaps best known for her work as executive director and co-founder of the Global Game Jam, Buter has also founded or co-founded such events and initiatives as the Playful Arts Festival, Women in Games NL and INDIGO, as well as curating the likes of IndieCade Europe, A MAZE / Berlin 2020 and more.
The Performance Award
by SFB Games
The Procedural Design Award
I Was A Teenage Exocolonist
by Northway Games
The Audio Design Award
by Joon, Pol, Muuutsch, Char and Torfi
The Visual Design Award
Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective
With the forthcoming Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective, developers Darjeeling skillfully adapt the hand-drawn puzzles of Hiro Kamigaki’s 2015 book, Pierre the Maze Detective: The Search for the Stolen Maze Stone in a way that intimately, inexorably connects its visual elements – from the animation and the mazes themselves right down to text and icons – to a locally collaborative, family-friendly style of play that transcends typical hidden object and maze games.
The Location Based and Live Play Design Award
Terrarium: An Alternate Reality Game
by Fourcast Lab
Fourcast Lab combined traditional and innovative ARG elements – including the use of streaming platforms like Twitch – for Terrarium: An Alternate Reality Game, which served multiple purposes: orienting new students to the University of Chicago, drawing awareness to environmental issues and engaging players in an engaging, narrative-driven scavenger hunt.
The Tabletop Award
Thousand Year Old Vampire
by Tim Hutchings
The Impact Award
Sin Sol / No Sun
by micha cárdenas, Marcelo Viana Neto, Adrian Phillips, Kara Stone, Abraham Avnisan, Wynne Greenwood, Dorothy Santos, Morgan Thomas, Zia Puig and Clara Qin
The Narrative Award
Journey of the Broken Circle
by The Lovable Hat Cult
The IndieCade Choice Award
by Dinosaur Polo Club
Check out https://anywhere.indiecade.com for more information on all the nominees and winners, and stay tuned for more of our IndieCade 2020 coverage!