The IGDN is pleased to present the Indie Groundbreaker Awards, which are designed to shine a spotlight on excellence in the indie game design community. These awards will recognize games (and game designers) who are creating new and exciting game designs that push the boundaries in innovation, in promoting diversity, and in expanding what it means to be “indie.”

The Indie Groundbreaker Awards, while presented by the IGDN, are meant to recognize all indie designers across the industry. Therefore, our judging panel will be made up of four judges, 2 from within the IGDN and 2 from the greater industry. These judges will provide an unbiased group decision, as games they have worked on will not be eligible for submission this year.

Winners are announced at the IGDN Social held at Gen Con in Indianapolis each year.


Award Categories

There are 5 award categories. Every game submitted will be eligible to win in any one category, as determined by the judges.

  • Most Innovative – Recognizing the most innovative and unique game design

  • Best Art – Recognizing the best artwork, logos, graphic design, and layout

  • Best Rules – Recognizing best mechanics, judging on rules set & clarity

  • Best Setting – Recognizing the most evocative, interesting, solid and unique setting.

  • Game of the Year – An overall award given to the best game of the year.


Each year a panel of judges decides the winners and runner ups. Two judges are IGDN members and two are from outside the membership.

Judges can apply by emailing with the subject line “[year] JUDGE APPLICANT” .

Judges are selected by the IGDN leadership team annually.

Judges decide on finalists in each category from among the nominees, to be announced 30 days before GenCon.

Eligible Games

The awards submissions must conform to the following requirements:


  • Type of games: The game must be considered a tabletop RPG, LARP, Card Game, or Board Game, or some variant within (such as a dice game).

  • Independently published: The game must be conceived and published by artists, designers, and developers. The judges retain final judgment over whether or not a product
    is “indie.”

  • Complete, published and available: The game must be available on some kind of store-front, whether it be a free pdf download on DriveThruRPG, purchased through Amazon, or distributed through Alliance. Furthermore, the game must be complete, including all pieces and information necessary for a full (non-demo) game. Reasonable exceptions apply for universally available materials, such as the need for pencils and paper.

  • Recent: Games must have been released within the last calendar year.


  • Sports or Sport-like: The game should be able to be played well without the need to train the player’s physical attributes in order to get better at it. While obvious exclusions are things like tennis and baseball, this also includes other physical games that do not have a storytelling component.

  • Video Games: Games that solely rely on digital interface. Electronic components are welcome, but must focus on the above “game must be” criterium.

  • Re-releases & Second editions: Previously released products are only eligible if they have not previously won in any category. If a new edition is a substantial revision (i.e. D&D 5th Edition) it can be declared eligible by unanimous consent of the judges.

  • Judges: Games created by or produced by a judge of that year’s awards are disqualified.

  • Illegal or unethical.

Winners & Prizes



  • $50 cash prize and an engraved plaque.

  • An IGDN PDF gaming bundle.

  • Acknowledgments on hall of fame award page.

  • Rights to the Indie Groundbreaker Awards Winner logo and acknowledgements on the winning game.






  • $300 cash prize and an engraved plaque.

  • An IGDN PDF gaming bundle.

  • Recognition on hall of fame award page.

  • Rights to the Indie Groundbreaker Awards Game of the Year logo and acknowledgements on the winning game.

  • The “Game of the Year” is invited to display and sell their winning game at all major conventions with an IGDN presence, free of cost (shipping not included), for the next year.


  • Framed Certificate.

  • Digital copies of all submitted games.

  • Acknowledgements on the hall of fame award page.



  • Rights to the Indie Groundbreaker Awards Winner logo.

  • Acknowledgements as a Indie Groundbreaker Runner-Up.

*Physical copies will not be returned. They will be used by the judges to determine quality and then raffled off to help cover the costs of the awards program.


Want to know how to apply or how to contribute? Email us at