IndieCade 2020 #AnywhereAndEverywhere – The Official Award Winners

IndieCade logo

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, 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.

sarah and asher run the indiecade 2020 awards
Sarah and Asher run the Indiecade 2020 awards

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:

And now…

The Complete List of IndieCade 2020 Award Winners

Innovation in Interaction Design

Electric Zine Maker
by alienmelon

The awesome thing about Electric Zine Maker isn’t that it’s a tool to make zines – although that is an awesome thing, as zines are very much in the spirit of IndieCade, punk rock and your friends here at IGR – it’s that it’s a tool that makes the zine-making process easy and fun instead of being “desktop publishing software.” The more people who make zines thanks to Nathalie Lawhead’s newest project, the better!

Innovation in Experience Design

The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED]
by TFL Studios

We loved The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED] for its clever conceit – a remastered version of a 1987 cult classic that never existed – and the way TFL Studios combined the aesthetics of MS-DOS games with all the lessons in game design we’ve learned in the three decades since then. Another extremely well-deserved award.

The Jury Prix Award

Wide Ocean Big Jacket
by Turnfollow

The Jury Prix Award highlights design, craftsmanship and innovation – three qualities highlighted by this 20-chapter camping story which excels at striking subtle but affecting emotional beats via a slice-of-life family story. At times both funny and touching, and a well-deserved win for Turnfollow.

The Grand Jury Award

by Die Gute Fabrik

The top prize went to mellow, evocative adventure game Mutazione. The IndieCade Grand Jury was as charmed as we were – it made our list of Top Mobile Games of 2019 – by its intentionally languid pace, bizarre but comfortable setting and strange yet relatable characters, not to mention its beautiful cut-out art style and Alessandro Coronas’s subtly beautiful score.

Tarry Cavanaugh presenting the Grand Jury prize at IndieCade 2020
Terry Cavanaugh presenting the Grand Jury Award at IndieCade 2020

The Bernie DeKoven Big Fun Award

Holly Gramazio
Holly Gramazio

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

Derek Yu
Derek Yu
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

Zuraida Buter
Zuraida Buter

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

Tangle Tower
by SFB Games

The Performance Award, celebrating human performances in games, goes to Tangle Tower for its cleverly written and brilliantly delivered dialogue. The game’s voice actors are an integral part of selling its fantastic mystery and its humor.

The Procedural Design Award

I Was A Teenage Exocolonist
by Northway Games

I Was A Teenage Exocolonist wins the Procedural Design for the exquisite way its randomized elements work in harmony to generate meaningful stories not only of colonizing alien worlds but also the very real travails of being a teenager.

The Audio Design Award

by Joon, Pol, Muuutsch, Char and Torfi

Understated, professorial voice-over work, woodsy ambiance and the sounds of obsolete technology come together to ground the player in a specific place in time in Audio Design Award winner NUTS, a mystery adventure game about staking out conspiratorial squirrels.

The Visual Design Award

Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective
by Darjeeling

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

Tabletop Award winner Thousand Year Old Vampire takes the emerging narratives of tabletop RPG games and applies it to a solo model rather than a collaborative one, giving players the tools to generate a detailed – if inevitably tragic – story of an ancient vampire.

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

Sin Sol / No Sun wins the award for experimental exploration of sociological, cultural and political issues for its use of augmented reality to explore the potential impacts of climate change – and climate disaster – on some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. (It also has a friendly dog, which nicely mitigates some of the bleakness inherent in its themes.)

The Narrative Award

Journey of the Broken Circle
by The Lovable Hat Cult

The Loveable Hat Cult wins this year’s Narrative Award for the way their game, Journey of the Broken Circle, uses its minimalistic graphics and sparse but effective dialogue to tell a story of love, broken-heartedness and the difficult but necessary journey to find oneself.

The IndieCade Choice Award

Mini Motorways
by Dinosaur Polo Club

Mini Metro sequel Mini Motorways sees Dinosaur Polo Club upping the ante: more urban planning, more action-driven beeps and boops coalescing into a chip-tune soundtrack – by none other than Disasterpeace – as you design your roads and highways, and most importantly, more fun! A joyous and compelling game, it’s no surprise this one won the award chosen collectively by IndieCade 2020’s nominated developers.

Mutazione accepts the award at IndieCade 2020
A candid screengrab from the 2020 IndieCade Awards – pictured here is Mutazione

Check out for more information on all the nominees and winners, and stay tuned for more of our IndieCade 2020 coverage!