UBM (producer of Gamasutra.com and the Game Developers Conference) established the Independent Games Festival in 1998 to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best independent game developers.
We wanted to create a similar event to Sundance for independent game developers - and that's just what we've succeeded in doing with the Independent Games Festival, which has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash prizes (and brought major exposure and a much higher profile) to a multitude of indie and student game developers who have entered. There are three main elements to the Festival itself:
The Independent Games Festival Pavilion
Located on the show floor at the Game Developers Conference, and open to any members of the public or game professionals who have bought an Expo Pass to the show or above, the IGF Pavilion showcases every single finalist for that year's Festival in playable form. Members of the development team for each IGF finalist are on hand to discuss and demonstrate the title and talk to top game publishers and distributors attending the show. The 2017 IGF Pavilion will open March 1, 2017 and run through March 3, 2017.
The Independent Games Festival Awards
The IGF Awards take place on the evening of the third day of Game Developers Conference, and are a major celebration of the best in indie gaming, with thousands watching the awards presentation before the Game Developers Choice Awards are presented. The 2016 IGF Awards, including custom interstitials from Mega64 and Hey Ash Whatcha Playin'?, are available for online viewing. The Festival Awards will take place March 1, 2017.
The Independent Games Summit
The Independent Games Summit seeks to highlight the brightest and the best of indie development, with discussions ranging from indie game distribution methods through game design topics, guerrilla marketing concepts, and student indie game discussions. The tenth annual IGF is planned for February 27, 2017 through February 28, 2017.
Independent Games Festival Prizes
The Independent Games Festival, to be held in March 2017 at San Francisco's GDC 2017, will be distributing eight major awards at its ceremony, as follows:
Seumas McNally Grand Prize ($30,000)
Excellence in Visual Art ($3,000)
Excellence in Audio ($3,000)
Excellence in Design ($3,000)
Excellence in Narrative ($3,000)
Nuovo Award ($5,000)
Best Student Game ($3,000)
Audience Award ($3,000)
The IGF will also be hosting the inaugural alt.ctrl.GDC Award, which will be given out at the Ceremony on March 1, 2017. You can find more information about and submit to the alt.ctrl.GDC Award here.
The Independent Games Festival competitions have a diverse, industry leading set of judges which includes representatives from mainstream games, the press, significant independent gaming websites, as well as previous winners, finalists and a number of indie veteran judges from the previous IGF judging pool.