IGF? What do those three little letters stand for? Is it the Internet Governance Forum? Perhaps it’s the International Golf Federation? Or maybe these guys just deal with insurance?

Nay, dear reader. The annual IGF, better known as the Independent Games Festival is the chance for aspiring indie developers to showcase their work and enter into one of the world’s most prestigious game development competitions for a shot at fame, glory and lots of delicious cake.

Wait, what the heck is an indie developer?

You are. If you’ve taken up game development as a hobby, and don’t have the backing of some sort of gargantuan publisher or enough money to buy your own island (hey, it happens), then congratulations! You’ve been welcomed into the indie developer’s world and can now appreciate the fact that the IGF is aimed at people like you.

Past IGF winner Aquaria. Now with 50% extra turtle!

Past IGF winner Aquaria. Now with 50% extra turtle!

Okay, now tell me more about this thing.

The IGF is held near the beginning of every year. While the festival’s main drawcard is its prestigious competition and the announcement of the winners (the grand prize is a whopping US$30 000), there’s also a whole bunch of other events behind the scenes: in fact, the IGF is part of a much bigger annual event called the Game Developers Conference, where prestigious game development figures from all over the world gather to generally mess around and do really cool stuff.

What are some of the games that have emerged from the IGF?

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Kyle Gabler's World of Goo. Clever, addictive and really sticky.

Prize-winners in previous IGF competitions include Xbox indie hit Braid, undersea action-adventure game Aquaria, Kyle Gabler’s quirky (and addictive) World of Goo and many more well-known indie titles. If you don’t know about these games already, hit their links and get your hands on them if you can. It’ll be an eye-opening experience.

This is way too hardcore for me!

You don’t need to be intimidated just because you’re gazing at the cream of the crop. The fact is that anybody is allowed to enter and some rather intriguing entries have gone through to the finals in recent years, including simple Flash games and even one or two Game Maker submissions.

Yes, if you’re a brand spanking new developer, chances of you getting through to the finals may well be slim. But it’s important to see the competition for what it is: a means of promoting and honouring indie game developers. Don’t look at the entrants and curl up into a little ball: instead, consider how you’ll one day reach that level too.

To check out the results of this year’s IGF (which was held at the end of March), head on over to the website (http://www.igf.com/) and click on “Finalists & Winners”.