The Future Is Here
We may earn a commission from links on this page

The Gaming Shelf Celebrates the Triumphant Indie Groundbreaker Awards

This year's Indie Game Developer Network award winners are a frankly stellar group.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Gen Con is JUST AROUND THE CORNER! Nobody freak out, but if you’re not ready maybe you should freak out just a little. Also happening this month is the start of Kickstarter’s August Zine Quest, which will go back to February next year.

It’s... a long story, but the attempt to shift Zine Quest to August (in order to coincide with GenCon) messed with a lot of people’s financials, and organizers decided to turn it back for 2023. Regardless, we’re here with a ton of games, and I’m so excited to feature five titles in this column.


Featuring: IGDN’s Indie Groundbreaker Award Winners

The Indie Game Developer Network (IGDN) is a volunteer trade organization that supports a variety of independent game designers, making space for TTRPGs, LARPs, card games, and board games. It supports sponsorships to conferences, hands out the Indie Groundbreaker Awards, and facilitates mentorship programs.


On July 30, the IGDN released the winners of the Indie Groundbreaker Awards for games published over the past year, and the list is, frankly, stellar. Let’s start off with Most Innovative, awarded to My Body Is a Cage by John “Batts” Battle, where you play as a regular person who dreams of dungeons. Beat the dungeon? Get richer in the real world. A Fantastic Desire for Adventure won Best Art, and we’ve featured author Tim Hutchings before—he wrote the radio-chatter LARP Apollo 47.

Best Rules goes to Nevyn Holmes’ Gun&Slinger, a three-player game of bluffing and resolution where a gunfighter and their sentient gun have to discover why the world died. Arcon, co-created by Kienna Shaw and Jason Cutrone, won best setting for their neon-lit history of megacorporations and the cyber undeath inside of the city. The final award for Game of the Year was hotly contested, but Brave Zenith by Giuliano Roverato took the honor home for his post-fantasy RPG inspired by Japanese games and Brazilian culture.

New Releases: Camp Kingdom Come, I Have The High Ground, Blood Neon


Camp Kingdom Come is a rules-light roleplaying game where players play the roles of Bible Camp counselors during the apocalypse. They must shepherd a group of unruly campers through various tribulations—at least until their parents pick them up on Sunday night.


Let’s face it: dueling is sexy. But do you know what’s sexier than combat? That slower, higher tension duel that occurs before any damage is done—before any blow is even struck. The duel of word and wit, of melodramatic motion and threatening maneuvers. I Have the High Ground is a short, collaborative tabletop roleplaying and storytelling game for two players about that kind of duel.”


Blood Neon is hyperviolent vaporwave fantasy on the tabletop. The Neon system lets you get right into the thick of it with fast-paced combat that lets the GM throw hordes of monsters at you without the brain burn. Build your own Star from a variety of classes, skills, and equipment and team up with your friends to fight back the neon horde!”

Crowdfunding: Stillfleet, Ryne, Aether


Stillfleet is its own timespace paradox: an acid-trip of a good time, built on a foundation of political tension between the Co. and its medieval market-worlds… It’s a rules-light system with hundreds of options for powers. It’s a genre-vaporizing work of science fiction that you can hack apart and make your own.”


Ryne is a wild fantasy roleplaying game of community and connection, in a world shaped by broken titans. Using a tailored Powered by the Apocalypse system built around emotion and change, Ryne invites you to weave stories of people living a world in its autumn. You’ll journey through vibrant landscapes, inhabit communities reliant on the indifferent titans, and learn the secrets of the faltering Remnants.


Aether is a full rule and setting expansion for the Trinity Continuum line of games, set in the year 1895, at a time when humanity has conquered its own world, and now seeks to conquer the limitations imposed on us by the laws of all the sciences known to our kind.”

In Other News:

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.