Toronto developers bring home awards from international conference IndieCade.
Hundreds of game developers descended into Culver City this past weekend for IndieCade: an international festival of independent gaming often dubbed the industry’s version of Sundance. Local game developers returned from California with plenty to be thankful about, picking up awards and continuing to bolster Toronto’s reputation as one of the strongest global cities for independent game development. With over 400 games submitted to the festival, Toronto can stand tall: three of the 36 games selected as finalists hail from here.
Sworcery—the collaboration by artist Superbrothers, game studio Capy, and musician Jim Guthrie—was awarded best visuals for its distinct pixel-art style by a jury of industry heavyweights, beating out 35 other finalists for the award. The game will attempt to continue its winning streak when, later this month, it goes up against titles such as Minecraft, Limbo, and Portal 2 for the inaugural GameCity Prize—called “the Mercury Prize of video gaming” by the BBC.
Also winning an award at IndieCade was Depths, a 3D anaglyph puzzle game by Bigpants Games, which was declared the Audience Choice. In the game, players break through windows, dive through tunnels, and avoid walls using a deceptively simple one-button mechanic: like a boomerang, the player sinks into the screen before ricocheting back. The complexity of the game comes in navigating increasingly complicated paths as the game progresses. Jim and Emilie McGinley of Bigpants were stunned by the win, as Depths beat out better-known titles such as Fez, Sworcery, and Johann Sebastian Joust.
The exposure at IndieCade is advantageous because independent games, which tend to be more experimental and smaller in scope, receive less notice from the public and the media than broader mainstream titles. At some point, this dynamic will have to change, at least in Toronto; as local games rack up accolades and awards, they’ll become that much harder to ignore.