IGF 2011 Student Winners Hint At Future Superstar Game Devs

Each year fans of the indie gaming scene look forward with great anticipation to the Independent Games Festival, particularly the Student Showcase category. Here you can see glimpses of what gaming's future might hold, the creativity that's at work among the youngest in the field. This year's eight winners have been officially named, culled from a list of more than 280 entrants.

The winners are a diverse bunch-- here's the list:

"e7" (Gymnasium Koniz Lerbermatt)

"Fract" (University of Montreal)

"GLiD" (Bournemouth University)

"Octodad" (DePaul University)

"PaperPlane" (ENJMIN)

"Solace" (DigiPen Institute of Technology)

"Tiny and Big" (School of Arts and Design Kassel)

"Toys" (Future Games Academy)

There's a diverse offering here and all of them are cool in their own way, but three in particular caught my eye. The minimalist design and simple color scheme are immediately reminiscent of "Patapon." I only hope the gameplay -- which seems to involve guiding a probe across an alien planet with a Jello-like surface -- is as addictive. You can play "e7" right here.

Then there's "Fract," which looks like a marriage of the "TRON" grid with "Minecraft"'s gameplay. The official game page on IGF's website describe "Fract" as a first-person puzzle game that is "very much in the vein of the classic 'Myst' titles." Best of all, "Fract" is currently in beta. Which means you can try it. Right here, right now.

Finally, there's "Tiny and Big." Even if the game weren't about a tech-savvy squirt on a quest to find his grandfather's underwear -- but it is -- I'd be sold. Tiny, the star of the show, comes equipped with a powerful cutting laser which is capable of slicing apart the environment piece by piece. The game seems to involve solving puzzles by making changes to the surrounding world, which appear to even include fashioning a spire-like chunk of rock into a fully functioning rocket. Does anything suck about that? No, I don't think so.