A student project from George Brown is looking to enter the IGF which got me thinking about their chances. Here’s the result of my research into entering the IGF for those who are interested.

What is the IGF?

The Independent Gaming Festival (IGF) has been running for over 15 years in parallel with the Games Developer Conference (GDC). The goal of the IGF is to celebrate and promote games made by independent studios by rewarding the best games. What makes a studio independent isn’t clear but here’s what the regulations say:

Independently Created: The Nominating Committee must be confident that the submitted game was created in the ‘indie spirit’ by an independent game developer, fulfilling the question asked on the entry form. The Nominating Committee reserves the right to refuse any game at its sole discretion.


  • Submissions are open towards the end of summer.
  • Deliver game builds in October.
  • Festival and awards handed out in March.
FTL was a winner

FTL was a winner

Awards and Game Categories

  • Seumas McNally Grand Prize
  • Excellence In Visual Art
  • Excellence In Audio
  • Excellence in Design
  • Excellence in Narrative
  • Nuovo Award
  • Audience Award
  • Best Student Game


There is no guaranteed way to win the IGF (if there was the whole thing would be pointless) so the best thing to do is try your hardest to make your game stand out. Obviously you’ll want to focus on one of the categories above like best art or something.

THere is a ton of competition every year with the quality and number of submitted games increasing. Here’s a complete list of games submitted for 2012’s competition.

The team over at Cipher Prime studios did a rather intense analysis of who wins the IGF competition and it’s a long but informative read.

We found that IGF winners were characterized, with very few outliers, by:

  • Some type of prior “notoriety”, which might come from the developer’s previous games, a pre-existing version of the game itself, a large or growing fan base, or other factors discussed below.
  • Development times averaging out at over two years.
  • Having at least two people involved in the development process.
  • Being more than just “feature complete” (one of the requirements for an IGF submission). By the time IGF winners are announced in March, the majority of them are highly polished, and are often already commercially releasable games.
  • A widely varying amount of information available in developer blogs. Winning developers differed greatly in their posting frequency and blog content, although most of the winners made sure to at least announce, “I’m making this thing!”
  • Awesome trailers.
  • Diverse geographic location, if “diverse” includes only Europe and former British colonies.
  • Many different game engines, some commercial and some custom-built.
  • Varying amounts of press, ranging from zero to boatloads.