Watching The Watchmen: IGF Judges

Let's re-use an old image, eh?

This came out at the weekend, but I think it could be fun to talk about a wee bit (If only to remind the Indie Devs who read us, you’ve still a few days to put yourself forward). The full list of judges for the IGF have been announced. It’s quite the list of luminaries, plus Jim and I to represent the riff-raff. The thing is… the IGF is actually the one award in gaming which actually means something. Winning it can genuinely change a developers path, in terms of both visibility and the deals with visibility leads too. So, I think it’s actually worth turning our eyes to consider who’s going to get to decide this stuff…

Here’s the list…

– Jonathan Blow, Number-None (Braid creator and previous IGF honoree)
– Ian Bogost, Persuasive Games (author, columnist and social game developer)
– Raigan Burns, Metanet (IGF winner and N+ co-creator)
– Tom Buscaglia (IGDA board member, indie-friendly game attorney)
– Russell Carroll, Reflexive/GameTunnel (Wik maker’s indie marketing expert, indie website EIC)
– Heather Chaplin (veteran game journalist, Smart Bomb co-author, PBS contributor)
– Jamie Cheng, Klei Entertainment (Eets creator, Indie Games Summit speaker)
– Mark Cooke, Grasshopper Manufacture (former Nihilistic staffer, long-time IGF judge)
– Brian Crecente, Kotaku (Gawker-owned game weblog’s chief editor)
– N’Gai Croal, Newsweek (Level Up blogger)
– Mark DeLoura (former Game Developer magazine EIC, industry veteran)
– Phil Fish, Polytron (Fez and GAMMA co-creator, IGF award-winner)
– Kyle Gabler, 2D Boy (Experimental Gameplay Project contributor, World Of Goo co-designer)
– Kieron Gillen, RockPaperShotGun (PC Gamer contributor, Phonogram graphic novel author)
– Chaim Gingold (Spore editor design lead)
– Chris Grant, Joystiq (EIC of leading AOL-owned game blog)
– Kyle Gray, Electronic Arts – Tiburon (Henry Hatsworth team leader, Experimental Gameplay Project contributor)
– Alec Holowka, Infinite Ammo/Bit Blot (co-creator of IGF Seumas McNally Award-winning title Aquaria)
– Rod Humble, The Sims Label/EA (Head of The Sims franchise, The Marriage art-game creator)
– Soren Johnson, EA Maxis (Designer for Spore, lead designer on Civilization IV)
– Chris Kohler, Wired (Game|Life weblog editor)
– Dave Kosak, GameSpy (veteran IGF commentator, GameSpy journalist)
– Elan Lee, Fourth Wall Studios (ARG creator, 42 Entertainment co-founder, ilovebees designer)
– Tony Mott, Edge Magazine (UK game magazine EIC)
– Petri Purho, Kloonigames (IGF Grand Prize winner with Crayon Physics Deluxe)
– Chris Rausch, SuperVillain Studios (Order Up! creator, Fl0w PSP version developer)
– Chris Remo, Gamasutra (Gamasutra Editor-At-Large, former Shacknews EIC)
– Brian Reynolds, Big Huge Games (Alpha Centauri, Rise Of Nations designer, former IGDA board chairman)
– Brian Robbins, Fuel Industries (Casual game creator/evangelist, long-time IGF judge)
– Sam Roberts, IndieCade (Slamdance Games curator, indie festival stalwart)
– Margaret Robertson, Lookspring (Former Edge editor, BBC columnist)
– Jim Rossignol, RockPaperShotgun (‘This Gaming Life’ author, Wired contributor)
– Kellee Santiago, thatgamecompany (IGF Student Showcase winner with Cloud, Flow/Flower co-creator)
– Mare Sheppard, Metanet (IGF winner and N+ co-creator)
– Steve Swink, Flashbang Studios (Jetpack Brontosaurus developer, IGF/Indie Game Summit co-organizer)
– Stephen Totilo, MTV News (MTV Multiplayer weblog editor)
– Tim W., (Independent game website veteran editor)
– Matthew Wegner, Flashbang Studios (IGF/Indie Game Summit co-organizer, Off-Road Velociraptor Safari developer)
– Mick West (former Game Developer magazine columnist, Neversoft co-founder)
– Don Wurster, Gastronaut Studios (Small Arms co-creator, Indie Games Summit speaker)
– Derek Yu, Bit Blot (Aquaria co-designer, TIGSource website editor)

It’s an interesting group – a lot of ex-winners, a lot of journalists, a lot of developers. What do you think? Anyone stick out as a surprise? And if you had to choose someone to add to the list, who would you go for?


  1. Meat Circus says:

    My, that’s a metric shitload of judges.

  2. Meat Circus says:

    Oh, there should definitely be someone from 2D Boy on there. And our old pal, Vince D. Weller.

  3. Pags says:

    I see a lot of my indie dev heroes in there! Derek Yu, Petri Purho, Matthew Wegner, Steve Swink, Mare Sheppard, Jonathan Blow, Raigan Burns… can’t say I’m familiar with most of the bloggers though.

  4. Confidence interval says:

    Yes, that is an awful lot of people. How do you reach a decision on anything? Is it just a vote or are there arcane rules involved?

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    I dunno, actually. I believe it’s a vote thing, but we’ll certainly report from inside the machine.


  6. LewieP says:

    Phil Fish should stop judging and start finishing Fez, I’ve been wanting to play it for ages now.

  7. Akirasfriend says:

    It was inevitable that Crecente, Croal and Totilo would make it in there together. Those fancy big blog boys.

    Also, hey Lewie! :D

  8. cyrenic says:

    @Confidence interval

    Personally I’m hoping it’s a fight to the death. My money is on Kyle Gabler.

  9. Julian Montebartholemieau, Esquire says:

    “[…] was a hero to most
    But he never meant shit to me you see
    Straight up […] that sucker was
    Simple and plain
    Mother fuck him and John Wayne”

  10. Aubrey says:

    There are more and more games entered into the IGF every year. Last year, the judges were overwhelmed, and I heard that because of that, internally, they weren’t that pleased with the judging criteria/organization.

    I’m genuinely not saying this out of bitterness :D

    Hopefully this year there will be enough judges to take on the games, and judges will be assigned to games in a nice mix, based on their specialization vis-a-vis the different categories.

  11. cHeal says:

    Well done on getting on the judging board.

    I don’t really do indie games because I general try and avoid credit cards and stuff, but even with Steam and all the other magic electronic money goodness to be had, it is the Indie scene which I most feel I’m missing out on.

  12. Heliocentric says:

    One bomb in the judging room could set gaming back ten years.

  13. Dolphan says:

    RockPaperShotGun? There’s something very disturbing about that capital ‘G’ …

  14. Yhancik says:

    And if you had to choose someone to add to the list, who would you go for?

    Tarn Adams !

  15. Yhancik says:

    @Dolphan :

    that would we RPSG then ?

  16. Yhancik says:

    uh, “would be”

    (edit button, please come back soon, i miss you so)

  17. Punjab says:

    “- Matthew Wegner, Flashbang Studios (IGF/Indie Game Summit co-organizer, Off-Road Velociraptor Safari developer)”

    Now there’s a game I want to play!

  18. Aubrey says:

    It’s been available for a while:

    link to

    Not just a funny name, either. Rather good!

  19. Gap Gen says:

    cHeal: What’s wrong with PayPal?

  20. Barky says:

    I’d personally put Tim Schafer on.

  21. cHeal says:

    PayPal is worst of all!

    The ToS are shite, apparently.

  22. grumpy kobzon says:

    Too many people, too many journalists. Take BIFA jury for example: directors, actors, producers, 16 members, no bloggers or anyone like that.

  23. randomnine says:

    Tim Schafer would be ace, but Britsoft represent – Chris DeLay, perhaps, or Peter Molyneux. It’d be fun!

    That’s a hell of a list already. I’m such a fanboy… I’d enter the IGF just to meet half the judges.

    Maybe next year! (But be warned – if you all give up after this one I may cry)

  24. James G says:

    I’m vaguely surprised that Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw isn’t on the list, as a developer himself, and one of gamings most famous embittered cynics, he wouldn’t have looked out of place on the list.

    Am I the only person who mis-read ‘Phonogram graphic novel author‘ next to Kieron’s name?

  25. Alex May says:

    Looking forward to entering this year. First time! Knowing most of the names on the judging list is pretty scary as a potential entrant.

  26. Alonzo Harris says:

    I would add Michael Abbott to the list. It is a pretty comprehensive list of Important People In Games though.

  27. Kadayi says:

    Tim Schafer would definitely be one to add. Also why is the Fez guy on it? Where’s the game already? Like wise to the Braid dude, get the game onto my PC, no time for judging going on here….

  28. Mike says:

    Is the list usually that long?

    It’s certainly a good spread. I also like the way they capitalised RockPaperShotGun. RPSG.

  29. musenik says:

    By my subjective count, only three are women?

    perhaps not the most representative set of judges for a extremely wide ranging industry. Or should indie games stick to platformers, the odd action rpgs, and um, rogue-likes… (an exaggeration to be sure)

  30. LionsPhil says:

    Second that, James: definately needs moar Yahtzee.

    Oh, hey, it’s Wednesday. New Zero Punctuation!

  31. Terry Cavanagh says:

    Everytime I see this list I freak out just a little bit :O

    10 days to go! *code code code*

  32. Frank says:

    I’d put the Three Rings boss and someone from Kongregate (or another online portal). I’m surprised not to see Costikyan or David Gilbert.

  33. sbs says:

    Please point me to a review he did, all I can find are those comedy episodes called ‘Zero Punctuation’

  34. Alex May says:

    sbs: I wouldn’t put him on either but he has made several notable indie games himself and he is a reviewer after a fashion. I agree with a lot of what he says in his reviews anyway.

    Kadayi: If you win a prize one year you’re invited to judge the next I think. It wouldn’t be cricket not to, would it?

    re: long list
    They need this many judges to judge all the games. There are so many entrants each year (with more every year) that any given judge is given a subset of the entrants to judge. Your game may be seen by several judges but not by all of them. There just isn’t time apparently. I don’t think it’s the best system but there you go (certain amount of luck-of-the-draw going on), I can’t think of a system that would be remarkably better.