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IGDN's 2022 Groundbreakers include games where one player is a gun and a JRPG-inspired, post-fantasy Brazil

Small games, huge impact.

Image credit: Silva Joao

The Indie Game Developer Network dropped the list of winners for the 2022 Indie Groundbreaker Awards over the weekend, revealing the list of tabletop RPGs the organisation believes is pushing the industry in daring and creative new directions.

Independent RPGs are nominated by the public through IGDN’s website and then reviewed and selected by a panel of five judges, two members of which come from the organisation’s ranks while three others hail broadly from the independent side of the tabletop RPG industry. According to the IGDN, the awards honour “new and exciting game designs that push the boundaries in innovation, in promoting diversity, and in expanding what it means to be ‘indie.’

Five tabletop RPGs were selected as frontrunners in each of five categories, the winners of which and their designers will be listed below. IGDN’s awards want to spotlight artwork, rules and setting as three essential and notable design pillars but do not yet include one for editing, layout, production or some of the other unseen labour that goes into taking a game from a bunch of scribbles in a word doc to physical book in players’ hands.

  • Most Innovative: My Body is a Cage, by Batts
  • Best Art: A Fantastic Longing for Adventure, by Tim Hutchings
  • Best Rules: Gun&Slinger, by Nevyn Holmes
  • Best Setting: Arcon - City of Light, by Kienna Shaw and Jason Cutrone
  • Game of the Year: Brave Zenith, by Giuliano Roverato and Rodrigo Melchior

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Brave Zenith is a notable winner for its inclusion in the recent LATAM Breakout initiative that sought to spotlight the vibrant design and player scene in Latin America. Regional crowdfunding restrictions and a general tendency to favour the US and Western Europe spurred tabletop designers to take matters into their own hands, creating several games from independent artists and bundling them together into a published collection.

Winners in the four main categories get a digital package of all games, rights to apply their win and the IGDA logo to their games and public acknowledgement. Game of the year winners are invited to sell their game at all conventions where IGDA attends in an official capacity over the next year.

It’s well worth checking out IGDN’s Indie Groundbreaker Award page on their website, which lists all of the nominees for 2022. Dicebreaker has previously written about tabletop RPGs such as Gun&Slinger, Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall and Monster Care Squad for their incredible concepts and executions. Grasping Nettles, Archives of Alexandria and Stacks of Goblins show that even smaller games are capable of evoking big thoughts and emotional connections. Watch a livestream VoD of the awards, including interviews with designers, on Twitch here.

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Chase Carter


Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.