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Independent Games Festival Award nominations include Queer Aussie game

The Independent Games Festival has revealed its award nominations for 2023 – and it includes a sleeper Aussie hit.
queer man peering rock pool

The Independent Games Festival has officially announced the nominations for the 2023 IGF Awards – and there’s a familiar face for Australians amongst the pack. Between major indie hits like Tunic and Betrayal at Club Low, quirky Australian game Queer Man Peering Into a Rock Pool.jpg has managed to nab a well-earned nom for the prestigious Nuovo Award, typically awarded to experimental games that break the mould. It’s also earned an honourable mention for Excellence in Narrative.

Queer Man Peering Into a Rock Pool.jpg is a surreal adventure from Sydney-based studio, Fuzzy Ghost. It explores the existentialism of living, and how the power of romance can overcome any obstacle – even in a shifting, broken world that continues to warp with every step.

It achieved an Australian Game Developer Award for Excellence In Emerging Games in 2022, and has now been recognised on a global stage.

Read: Queer Man Peering Into A Rock Pool.jpg review – A surreal vaporwave trip

It joins a starry list of fellow nominees in the IGF Awards, which were created to celebrate the best of global indie games.

IGF Awards 2023 – Full list of nominations

Here’s the full list of Independent Games Festival nominees, courtesy of the IGF.

Best Student Game

  • Gevaudan (Nicolas Bernard)
  • Mind Diver (Indoor Sunglasses)
  • Presenter Slides (Mathias Schifter & Brin Žvan)
  • Shutter (ARTFX 2022)
  • Skala (Gustav Almström)
  • Slider (randomerz)

Honourable Mentions: A Mallard’s Song (Ducky Elford), Error143 (Jenny Vi Pham), Paper Planet (Doodlegames), The Longest Walk (Alexander Tarvet), zenosyne (Ezra Szanton)

Excellence in Audio

  • Dome Keeper (Bippinbits)
  • Paradise Marsh (LazyEti)
  • South of the Circle (State of Play)
  • The Forest Quartet (Mads & Friends)
  • TUNIC (TUNIC Team)
  • We are OFK (Team OFK)

Honourable Mentions: Betrayal at Club Low (Cosmo D Studios), Cult of the Lamb (Massive Monster), Immortality (Sam Barlow, Half Mermaid), Melatonin (Half Asleep), Neon White (Angel Matrix), Tinykin (Splashteam)

Excellence in Design

  • Against the Storm (Eremite Games)
  • Betrayal at Club Low (Cosmo D Studios)
  • Mr. Sun’s Hatbox (Kenny Sun)
  • Neon White (Angel Matrix)
  • Stacklands (Sokpop Collective)
  • The Case of the Golden Idol (Color Gray Games)

Honourable Mentions: Citizen Sleeper (Jump Over the Age), Cursed to Golf (Chuhai Labs), Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator (niceplay games), Swordship (Digital Kingdom), Terra Nil (Free Lives), Tinykin (Splashteam)

Excellence in Narrative

  • Butterfly Soup 2 (Brianna Lei)
  • Citizen Sleeper (Jump Over the Age)
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist (Northway Games)
  • Immortality (Sam Barlow, Half Mermaid)
  • NORCO (Geography of Robots)
  • South of the Circle (State of Play)

Honourable Mentions: Eternal Threads (Cosmonaut Studios), Queer Man Peering Into a Rock Pool.jpg (Fuzzy Ghost), Roadwarden (Moral Anxiety Studio), The Case of the Golden Idol (Color Gray Games), The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow (Cloak and Dagger Games), The Wreck (The Pixel Hunt)

Excellence in Visual Arts

  • Afterglitch (Vladimir Kudelka)
  • How Deep Is the Dark Water? (Rhett Tsai)
  • Potionomics (Voracious Games)
  • RPG Time: The Legend of Wright (DeskWorks Inc.)
  • To Hell With the Ugly (La Poule Noire, ARTE France)
  • Tunic (Tunic Team)

Honourable Mentions: I Was a Teenage Exocolonist (Northway Games), Melatonin (Half Asleep), NAIAD (HiWarp), Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator (niceplay games), Return to Monkey Island (Terrible Toybox), Swordship (Digital Kingdom), Terra Nil (Free Lives), Voodoo Detective (Short Sleeve Studio LLC)

Nuovo Award

queer man peering
Image: Fuzzy Ghost
  • Afterglitch (Vladimir Kudelka)
  • An Outcry (Quinn K.)
  • Betrayal at Club Low (Cosmo D Studios)
  • He Fucked The Girl Out Of Me (Taylor McCue)
  • Queer Man Peering Into a Rock Pool.jpg (Fuzzy Ghost)
  • Sylvie Lime (Love Game)
  • Time Bandit (Joel Jordon)
  • Titanic II: Orchestra for Dying At Sea (Flan Falacci)

Honourable Mentions: Atuel (Matajuegos), Ib (kouri), Not For Broadcast (NotGames), Of Moons and Mania (Absurd Walls), RPG Time: The Legend of Wright (DeskWorks Inc.)

Seumas McNally Grand Prize

  • Betrayal at Club Low (Cosmo D Studios)
  • Tunic (Tunic Team)
  • The Case of the Golden Idol (Color Gray Games)
  • Immortality (Sam Barlow, Half Mermaid)
  • Neon White (Angel Matrix)
  • Not For Broadcast (NotGames)

Honourable Mentions: Tinykin (Splashteam), Terra Nil (Free Lives), RPG Time: The Legend of Wright (DeskWorks Inc.), Roadwarden (Moral Anxiety Studio), Hardspace: Shipbreaker (Blackbird Interactive), Citizen Sleeper (Jump Over the Age)


The winners of the annual Independent Games Festival Awards will be announced at 6:30 pm PT on 22 March 2023. The show will be live on the GDC Twitch channel.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.