The 15th annual Independent Games Festival has just announced the 8 winners for its hotly-contested Student Showcase awards. The purpose of this category is to recognise the bright young things emerging from universities and games programs worldwide, and celebrate their envelope-pushing creations. It has served in the past as the debut for such respected developers as DigiPen, the minds behind Narbacular Drop and Tag: The Power of Paint, the progenitors to Valves widely-acclaimed Portal series.
The competition was whittled down from over 300 entrants with entries across all major platforms – PC, console, and mobile. The finalists will all get a coveted chance to premiere playable copies of their games at the 27th Annual Games Developers Conference held in San Francisco on the 25th March. They will also each receive a $1000 prize – with an extra $3000 going to the final winner of Best Student Game.
And so, on to the finalists. We have:
- ATUM, a Blade-Runner inspired meta-game with more layers than an onion sandwich, hailing from the Netherland’s own NHTV IGAD.
- Back to Bed from the Danish Academy of Digital Interactive Entertainment – a surreal puzzler that pays homage to the work of Salvador Dali.
- Blackwell’s Asylum, also by the Danish Academy of Digital Interactive Entertainment, is a stealth – horror game that puts one in mind of the hit TV show American Horror Story and the upcoming (and controversial) Among The Sleep.
- Farsh, another entry from NHTV IGAD, is a game ‘based on rolling and unrolling a farsh (Persian for carpet)’. It looks more satisfying than it has any right to, and is accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack.
- Knights of Pen & Paper by a team at IESB ( or Instituto de Ensino Superior de Brasilia & UnB – Universidade de Brasilia, if you will). It takes the form of a retro, turn-based RPG modelled on the old pen n’ paper games where you take the role of both player and Dungeon Master.
- the mindful xp volume from the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center is a collection of 8 games which aims to provide a ‘thoughful experience’ which ‘(explores) games as a medium of communication and expression).
- Pulse, a clever experiment from students at Vancouver Film School. In this tense first-person game, you play a blind girl called EVA who must use a kind of echolocation to navigate complex levels whilst being chased by a dark presence. Scary stuff.
- Zineth, by a team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is a frantic and colourful celebration of ‘speed, movement and Twitter’. It gives more than a nod to PSX classic Rez and would not be out of place as a music video.
Honourable mentions include:
- Anodyne (University of Chicago and Carleton College)
- Chrono Disfunglement (DigiPen Institute of Technology Singapore)
- The Moonlighters (University of Southern California, Interactive Media Division)
- Narcosis (ENJMIN)
- Plushy Knight (Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy)
- SerpenteS (ENJMIN)
- SneakSneak (Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht)
- Tales From The Minus Lab (University of Southern California)
For more information on the competition or the Independent Games Festival, head over to their official website (where you can also find the Main Competition finalists, too). Any developers out there interested in registering for GDC 2013, which includes the IGF Summit and Awards Ceremony, visit the GDC website here.