2015 - 80 Days, winner of the IGF Excellence in Narrative award, garners numerous accolades, including TIME Magazine’s Game of the Year and the UK Writers’ Guild Best Writing in a Video Game award for game writer Meg Jayanth.
2014 - Multiple award winning Papers, Please is hailed by many - including renowned publications like Wired and The New Yorker - as the best game of the year.
2013 - Richard Hofmeier's Cart Life sweeps multiple awards including Grand Prize and becomes one of the year's most talked about games.
2012 - After a string of PC and console releases, Spelunky is quickly embraced as a speedrun & livestream community favorite and critically lauded for its smart use of procedurally generated levels.
2012 - Grand prize winner Fez is widely ported to consoles and handheld devices, where it cumulatively sells over one million copies.
2011 - Nidhogg becomes a live-event multiplayer mainstay and a regularly showcased game at fighting game tournament Evo.
2011 - Multiple award winner Minecraft has now sold almost 16 million copies and spawned a worldwide cult around its charming open-world game design.
2010 - Playdead's stark monochromatic platform title Limbo is a smash hit on Xbox Live Arcade, following its summer 2010 release, picking up a 2011 Game Developers Choice Award for Best Visual Arts.
2010 - The team behind 2009 Student Showcase finalist Tag: The Power of Paint are hired by Valve to implement new paint gun mechanics into Portal 2.
2009 - The Behemoth's follow-up to Alien Hominid, the IGF-winning Castle Crashers, tops XBLA charts to critical acclaim.
2009 - IGF multi-award winner World Of Goo launches as one of the best-selling, best-reviewed WiiWare titles of all time, alongside a popular PC version.
2009 - Petri Purho's Crayon Physics Deluxe spawns an iPhone version courtesy of Hudson, plus a popular PC downloadable version.
2008 - The team behind IGF Student Showcase finalist Narbacular Drop is hired by Valve. The game is reworked into Portal and goes on to win the coveted Game Developer's Choice "Best Game" award for 2008, as well as numerous game of the year accolades.
2008 - Design Innovation winner Braid debuts on Xbox Live Arcade to significant success.
2008 - Excellence in Audio winner Audiosurf launches on Valve's Steam distribution service and goes on to become the highest selling game of February, outselling even Valve's own Orange box (including Team Fortress 2 and Game Developer's Choice "Best Game" winner Portal.)
2007 - Design Innovation winner Everyday Shooter is signed by Sony for distribution on the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Network, after Sony's John Hight plays the game at the IGF Pavilion during GDC 2007 - Everyday Shooter's Jon Mak also appears at the inaugural Independent Games Summit.
2006 - Grand prize winner Darwinia gets both digital distribution via Valve's Steam system and U.S. retail distribution from new indie label Cinemaware Marquee.
2005 - Multi award-winner Alien Hominid receives publishing deals in the U.S. (via O3 Publishing) and Europe(via Zoo Digital), much critical acclaim, and even spawns a mobile version.
2005 - Fan favorite N wins the audience award, and, as N+, releases as a hit XBLA title, as well as notable Nintendo DS and Sony PSP versions.
2004 - Innovative casual strategy game Oasis wins the web/downloadable grand prize, going on to launch on major online portals the following year.
2003 - Super X Studios' Wild Earth, a photographic game based around a worldwide safari, takes multiple prizes and subsequently becomes a motion simulator ride and eventually (in adapted form) a Wii title.
2000 - Tread Marks, created by the late Seumas McNally, which the IGF's grand prize is now named after, wins 3 major awards.
1999 - Vicarious Visions, now a major handheld / console developer, honored for Terminus.
Honorable mentions: Bokida (Institut de Création et d'Animation Numériques);
Flying Fish (The Academy of Interactive Entertainment);
Ladylike (NYU and NYU Poly);
Rabbit Rush (RMIT); and
UN EP (Kansas City Art Institute).
Finalist: Excellence in Audio and Excellence in Design Honorable mention: Seumas McNally Grand Prize
Crypt of the NecroDancer is a hardcore rhythm-based roguelike game. Can you survive this deadly dungeon of dance, slay the NecroDancer, and recapture your still beating heart? Or will you be a slave to the rhythm for all eternity? Players must move on the beat to navigate procedurally generated dungeons while battling dancing skeletons, zombies, dragons, and more! Groove with the game's epic DannyB soundtrack, or select songs from your own MP3 collection. You can even play with a DDR dance pad to really shake your bones!
Finalist: Excellence in Audio, Excellence in Narrative, Nuovo Award, and Seumas McNally Grand Prize
Dominique Pamplemousse is an interactive musical comedy in stop motion, in which the titular protagonist is a down-on-their-luck private investigator of ambiguous gender only one rent payment away from homelessness. When the CEO of a major record company shows up asking Dominique to locate a missing pop star, taking the job appears to be the straightforward thing to do. However, as things are never quite as they seem in these kinds of stories, Dominique winds up framed for a crime they didn't commit, bringing to surface their mysterious past and the events that led them to take up shady detective work in the first place.
(Windows, Mac, Linux, and PlayStation 4)
Finalist: Excellence in Design and Seumas McNally Grand Prize Honorable mention: Excellence in Audio and Excellence in Visual Arts
Don't Starve is an uncompromising wilderness survival game full of science and magic.
You play as Wilson, an intrepid Gentleman Scientist who has been trapped by a demon and transported to a mysterious wilderness world. Wilson must learn to exploit his environment and its inhabitants if he ever hopes to escape and find his way back home.
Enter a strange and unexplored world full of strange creatures, dangers, and surprises. Gather resources to craft items and structures that match your survival style. Play your way as you unravel the mysteries of this strange land.
On its surface, Extrasolar looks like a legitimate scientific expedition -- the first to send rovers to a planet beyond our solar system. When you apply to the program, you're promised a chance to control one of the many rovers that the eXoplanetary Research Institute (XRI) has put down on the surface of an alien world. As a citizen scientist, you volunteer your time to help explore the planet one photo at a time. Before long, the story back on Earth becomes just as compelling as the startling discoveries on the planet as you find yourself wrapped up at the center of a conspiracy, not sure whom to trust.
Extrasolar is pioneering new gameplay and technology. Gorgeous images of the planet's surface are rendered in the cloud and delivered to the player every few hours, making each player's experience unique and raising the bar for the appearance and immersion of Web games.
Finalist: Excellence in Visual Arts Honorable mention: Excellence in Design and Excellence in Narrative
Still a work in progress, Gorogoa is a lovingly hand-illustrated world suspended inside of a unique puzzle. To solve the puzzle, the player rearranges a few tiles on a simple grid, placing them next to or on top of one another. But each tile is also a window into a different part of the game world -- or perhaps into a different world -- and each window plays like its own little game. Even so, the key to progressing never lies within one tile, but in the connections between tiles.
(Windows, Mac, and Linux)
Finalist: Seumas McNally Grand Prize Honorable mention: Excellence in Audio
Jazzpunk is a first-person comedy adventure game set in an alternate-reality Cold War World, plagued with Corporate Espionage, CyberCrime™, and Sentient Martinis. Gameplay is inspired by spoof comedy films
and cartoons of yester-year (eg: Naked Gun, Airplane!, Hot Shots, etc), with a focus on weird gadgets, exotic locales, and open-world style exploration.
A simple game of touch, pleasure, and joy. Luxuria Superbia is a musical journey through stylized flowers that react to your gestures. Exciting designs explode from your motions, from the realm of the senses on to the rational up to the spiritual.
Luxuria Superbia is a completely abstract game, without a story or characters. It's all about the experience, the interaction with the software. The game consists of twelve tunnels with different shapes inspired by flowers. It's reminiscent of a tunnel shooter game. But instead of destroying enemies, your task is to be nice to the tunnel, to make it feel good. When you touch the walls of the tunnel, the color changes. It starts white, and your goal is to make it as colorful as possible. The tunnel likes to be colored. You can sense this. The game is very responsive. The way you get a high score is by playing slowly and gently. Just pushing through as fast as you can will result in failure. The game wants you to take it easy and really play with it.
Created by Michaël Samyn & Auriea Harvey (Tale of Tales) with music by Walter Hus.
Mushroom 11 is a post-apocalyptic puzzle-platformer with unique control mechanics. Guide a mysterious amorphic organism across brain-twisting obstacles, overcome swarms of bizarre mutated creatures, and understand the true nature of the devastation from which you emerged.
Finalist: Excellence in Design, Excellence in Narrative, Nuovo Award, and Seumas McNally Grand Prize
The October labor lottery is complete. Your name was pulled.
For immediate placement, report to the The Ministry of Admission at Grestin Border Checkpoint.
An apartment will be provided for you and your family in East Grestin. Expect a Class-8 dwelling.
Glory to Arstotzka.
The communist state of Arstotzka has just ended a 6-year war with neighboring Kolechia and reclaimed its rightful half of the border town, Grestin. Your job as immigration inspector is to control the flow of people entering the Arstotzkan side of Grestin from Kolechia. Among the throngs of immigrants and visitors looking for work are hidden smugglers, spies, and terrorists. Using only the documents provided by travelers and the Ministry of Admission's primitive inspect, search, and fingerprint systems, you must decide who can enter Arstotzka and who will be turned away or arrested.
Paralect is a 2D platformer that uses gameplay, visuals, and narrative to tell a personal story of cultural unrooting. It explores the paradigm shifts caused by culture shock and adaptation, and investigates how those transformations affect one's vision of people, their environment, the place you initially came from, and, most importantly, the place you wish to call home.
The game is divided into a sequence of experiences. At first glance, the main world is a typical platformer, presenting the player with environmental obstacles and puzzles. However, the narrative delivery system allows the player to spatially explore the monologue of NPCs and discover clues about how these characters and their worlds work.
Finalist: Excellence in Visual Arts Honorable mention: Excellence in Design
A first-person maximalist skater. Literally a perfect game. State Of The Art computer graphics. Based on old school FPS movement exploits (Quake jumping, Tribes skiing, CS surfing). The controls are hella hard and we like it that way so shut up.
Peter Lu and Lea Schönfelder
(Windows, Mac, and Xbox One)
Finalist: Nuovo Award
Perfect Woman is structured into progressive levels, each one representing a different stage in a woman's life. Starting at the child stage, players must post in front of a Kinect to mimic various poses that appear on screen. The better a player is able to hold the pose, the more "perfect" their rating for that level.
Perfect Woman features a branching decision tree which serves to create a narrative of the character's life. Past choices may make future choices more difficult. Perfect Woman suggests that it isn't possible to be perfect at every stage in life, and that's perfectly fine.
(Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android)
Finalist: Excellence in Audio and Excellence in Visual Arts
Samorost3 is a sequel to small adventure games Samorost and Samorost2. This time it's a much bigger and more ambitious project. One day, the little space gnome will find a strange flute (magical, of course) that fell down from the sky, and with its help he'll be able to build a new spaceship, explore 5 different planets and 4 moons, solve many mysteries, and also find out where the flute came from.
The game is being developed by the same team that created Machinarium, and the soundtrack is again composed by Tomas 'Floex' Dvorak.
It's a perfectly normal evening, and you have a quiet dinner planned with a friend. Over the course of playing Save the Date, you and your friend will touch on many timeless themes: Friendship. Stories. Hope. Destiny. And above all else, what to order for dinner.
SoundSelf is the chanting game of sensory exploration. Use your voice to fall through strobing tunnels-of-light, impossible shapes, and deep into a meditative trance. It's an elegant symmetry of image, sound, and body that takes advantage of loopholes in the way you perceive to facilitate a new experience of your self and your world. Each play-through is unique to you, and lasts one extremely intense hour.
Finalist: Excellence in Visual Arts Honorable mention: Excellence in Audio, Excellence in Design
The Banner Saga is a turn-based strategy RPG. It's a single-player experience built on travel, conversation, and combat. As players travel across beautiful environments, they have to deal with events that arise and keep their caravan of hundreds safe. In combat, take over 20 characters into turn-based battles and earn renown to upgrade them. In conversation, make decisions that decide the outcome of your story.
Finalist: Excellence in Audio, Excellence in Narrative, and Seumas McNally Grand Prize
The Stanley Parable is a first-person exploration game. You will play as Stanley, and you will not play as Stanley. You will follow a story, you will not follow a story. You will have a choice, you will have no choice. The game will end, the game will never end. Contradiction follows contradiction, the rules of how games should work are broken, then broken again. This world was not made for you to understand.
But as you explore, slowly, meaning begins to arise, the paradoxes might start to make sense, perhaps you are powerful after all. The game is not here to fight you; it is inviting you to dance.
Damian Sommer and Emily Carroll
Finalist: Excellence in Audio and Excellence in Narrative Honorable mention: Excellence in Visual Arts and Seumas McNally Grand Prize
The Yawhg is a one- to four-player choose-your-own-adventure game that randomizes a unique story every time you play. The evil Yawhg is returning. How will the town's locals lead their lives in the meanwhile, and what will they do when the dreaded Yawhg finally arrives? The fate of a community hinges on the characters' actions, and the decisions of their players.
Finalist: Excellence in Design Honorable mention: Seumas McNally Grand Prize
TowerFall is an archery combat platformer for up to 4 players. It's a local party game centering around hilarious, intense versus matches. The core mechanics are simple and accessible, but combat is fast and fierce. It's best played competitively with friends, cross-legged on the floor within punching distance of each other.
Hack n' Hide - University of Utah (Windows)
Finalist: Student Showcase
Different Roles, Common Goals
In the year 2114, the United States Department of Education has become society's tyrant by the stranglehold of student debt which has grown astronomically and reduces those with debt to indentured servitude.
Cyber Heist is a new vision for two-player, cooperative gameplay where neither player can succeed without the other. Survive by stealth and guile as the Thief or play as an elite Hacker as they work together to navigate past danger, access advanced security systems and discover hidden secrets.
Pick your role as the Hacker or the Thief and take on the DOE to erase all record of student debt forever.
A local two player fighting game centered around soul-theft and a simple yet deceptively deep dueling system. Think Super Smash Bros meets Nidhogg.
Outwit, outwiggle, and outstab your off-color twin, then steal their soul. Demonstrate your outfakery, your outpokery, your well-timed mischievious swordplay, and generally juke your way to handing your friendly local opponent a completely humiliating takedown. Controllers strongly recommended, but keyboards are supported.
When taking a photo, have you ever used perspective to pretend a large object in the distance is resting in the palm of your hand? Then you have experienced "forced perspective."
This is a puzzle game inspired by forced perspective. In this game, you use the ambiguity of perspective to resize and move objects at your will while you traverse the landscape of a mysterious museum.
Hafiz Azman & Winston Lee - University of Cambridge (Online)
Finalist: Student Showcase
The hardest one-button rhythm game you will ever play.
"The base mechanic and premise of Rhythm Doctor are gold for me. (...) Rhythm is in everything, and I'm glad the developers found it in medicine." - John Polson, IndieGames.com
"a rad Rhythm Paradise-esque browser game." - Jeffrey Matulef, Eurogamer
Many, many hours have been spent making the engine accurate enough to support a margin of error of a few hundredths of a second. This extremely small margin, compared to most traditional rhythm games, means most people will not realise their rhythm is off until they play Rhythm Doctor!
We made this game over the summer and winter vacations of the past three years. It is still being continually worked on, and we hope the fun we've had making this translates into your experience. You might even develop your sense of rhythm a little. ;)
"I used to terrible at beats, but now I have really improved thanks to THIS game!" - Newgrounds user review
(For the public, if you'd like to play an earlier demo, you can find it on Newgrounds as the currently top-rated rhythm game of the year. Enjoy!)
Risk of Rain
Hopoo Games - University of Washington (Windows)
Finalist: Student Showcase
Risk of Rain is an action platformer with roguelike elements. With permanent death as a primary feature, players will have to play their best to get as far as possible. Fight on a mysterious planet with randomly spawning enemies and bosses. With over 100 items at your disposal, you will find the tools you need to find the teleporter back home. Discover a myriad of randomly chosen stages, from the desolate forest to the frozen tundra.
Games with roguelike elements have recently had a large jump in popularity. However, most players find roguelikes hard to jump into: it is usually exceedingly complex in UI and game rules. Risk of Rain aims to revitalize the genre with stylized graphics and an intuitive gameplay scheme that teaches itself, rather than having to be taught.
Philipp Beau (code) and Daniel Goffin (art) - University of Amsterdam / University Kassel (iOS)
Finalist: Student Showcase
Symmetrain is a beautiful puzzle game for the whole family. Choose a train and spot the differences in the passing landscape.
An unexpected combination: Auto-runner meets spot-the-difference. The landscape left and right of the train tracks is mirrored. Almost. Find as many hidden differences as possible and restore the symmetry. Tap the correct object and reveal the missing counterpart! Use the emergency break when it gets too tricky.
Master faster and more difficult trains and unlock many new beautiful landscapes.
• A game for everyone – easy trains for beginners and children, fast trains for adults.
• Eight trains to unlock and play – each with a different speed, look and travel route.
• A picturesque world full of lovely hand-drawn graphics
• Dynamic generated game play – no challenge is the same
• A game for everyone – easy trains for beginners and children, fast and difficult trains for the skilled.
• A smooth guitar soundtrack that you will not forget
• Game Center integration and iCloud synchronization - compete against your friends for the ultimate highscore
"When a dastardly bandit kills your family, you saddle up with your six-shooters to bring the murderer to justice. There's a new mystery to solve every time you play."
Westerado is an action adventure detective western, with a focus on narrative, great music and fine-tuned pixels. The game has many paths for the cowboy to ride down, and stories to explore; rewarding the player on multiple playthroughs as he searches for the murderer.