Since 12 years, the IMGA is looking for the game that is the most visionary. The game that is showing us a glimpse of future games, the game that is fun, original, and will probably be copied in the years to come. The most important point here, is that there has to be an important innovation in the game, a different approach. The innovation can be in the format of the game (Her Story), the style and art (Monument Valley and Badland) or gameplay (The Walking Dead).
In some cases a competition does not have a clear overall winner. In that case the jury can decide not to hand out the Grand Prix. This happened at the first IMGA SEA and the first IMGA MENA.
This is the only prize, which is not selected by the jury, but by the players. As soon as the nominations are published, we incite the nominees to mobilize their players, family, friends, colleagues, fans to support them by voting for their game on the IMGA website. The game with most votes wins. Usually this is the game with most enthusiastic gamers or best K-factor (Social media activities).
For the IMGA the People’s Choice Award is our link to the players. Therefor it is an important award.
The Jury selects the winner of this category at the end of the judging session, just like the selection of the Grand Prix. Usually this prize goes to an exceptional game, which is clearly a winner, but not in one of the selected IMGA categories. It is a game that stands out, but not as clearly as the Grand Prix.
A very good example is Luxuria Superbia, a game evolving around the female organism. A very interesting and controversial subject, visualised in an excellent way. The game stood out but was clearly not beating all other games. Another great example is Threes! a great game, which invented a new mechanism for a number game, which was later copied and improved with a game called 2048
The jury decided to give Threes! the Jury Honorable mention Award and 2048 the Guilty Pleasure award.
This category has to be seen as a ‘in progress’ category. Everybody agrees that VR will be a big thing in the years to come and may even deserve its own award. But for the time being there are not enough VR games to make that happen. At the moment we review all mobile VR games and select the most accomplished and complete VR experience. We try to keep the tech demo’s and unfinished games out and pay more attention to the more elaborate works.
Games should be fun to play. That is the main purpose of a game. But there can be another purpose, such as learning. We used to call these games serious games or educational games, but today these terms are no longer covering the wide variety of games with a secondary purpose: political awareness and calls for action, art games, games for toddlers, ‘games for good’. This category is for all this.
Today, many games are multiplayer. More and more big MMO’s are coming to mobile and creating new challenges for this category. Sometimes the multiplayer element is realised solely with a social element, such as Candy Crush, or it can be turn-based such as Clash Royal, or real time, such as Vainglory and Hearthstone.
When we started the IMGA in 2004, we had a category called Casual Games. In time, this category became completely obsolete, because every mobile game was basically ‘casual’ by definition. We replaced this category to Quickplay, defined by the simple fact that you can pick up a Quickplay game and play it immediately, without any tutorial or explanation.
Sometimes it is because the tutorial is ‘hidden’ in the first levels, sometimes it is just because of the great intuitive controls.
When the IMGA started, developers were challenged with the new technical capabilities of the new handsets that were coming out. Those developers who had early access to the specifications of these handsets, were a step ahead of the others. Developers with their own tools and game engine could also have an advantage.
Today the winners of the technical achievement award are usually doing something exceptional on the server-side, such as Vainglory’s multiplayer technology, or Clumsy Ninja with their amazing physics, based on Natural Motion’s proprietary technology.
This category is for all unpublished games, no matter what category they may belong to.
These categories award the games which excel in art, sound, design or music. Or all.
In 2004 almost all games were played on the buttons of your phone. You would press the buttons with your thumb and your snake, tetris blocks or car would respond to a specific number. Gradually developers started exploring new ways of controlling games: accelerometers, cameras, microphones, GPS, Bluetooth connected controllers, etc. When touch screens were massively introduced, different gestures were explored, creating new ways to play games: Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja.
Today winners in this category are games such as Hearthstone and Rymdkapsel who are providing a new kind of user experience. Not so much because of the user interface, but the way you progress in the game.
This category awards games who try something original, which we haven’t see before. In the early days we awarded the first experiments with Location Based Games and the first attempts to make AR games. Today we are looking at anything innovative, such as a new way to learn how to dance: Bounden a complete new way to play a game Her Story.
Interactive storytelling is becoming mainstream in mobile games, with more and more TV series coming to mobile platforms, such as the Walking Dead. There are also Point-and-click adventure games and games who are almost like interactive documentaries. All games who are exploring the areas where games, TV and Cinema meet, belong in this category. Republique and 80 Days are both wonderful interactive experiences, with a lot of puzzle elements. The Walking Dead is clearly much closer to a movie or TV experience, whereby the player connects different sequences of the story together by making choices.
There are games you are playing and you tell your friends how great they are. And there is this one game you can’t stop playing, but basically you feel a bit ashamed you are playing it that much. That is a guilty pleasure game.