2013 IGF Finalists: Seamus McNally Grand Prize

Wondering what the most promising indie games might be? Have no fear. We’ve taken a look at all the IGF finalists and talked about why you should play them.

These are the best of the best in the field of indie games. While they might not be as good as other games in individual areas, the whole package is simply fantastic. If you are wondering why they all look familiar, that’s because each of these games was also nominated in several other categories. They have all been released, so you can play them for yourself. I very much recommend you do so.

Cart Life

Also nominated for: Narrative, Nuovo

The dreary, glacial pace of retail work is one that hits most people at some point in their lives, and Cart Life exploits that. While the setting might be different – street vendors rather than fast food chefs or grocery baggers – the message remains the same. Regardless of our jobs, our appearances, or even our lives, we are all similar on some level. The walls we erect around people of different socioeconomic or ethnic backgrounds only serve to isolate and remove compassion, rather than give context or meaning to our lives.

That got a little long-winded, so I’ll put it in simpler terms: Cart Life is a game where you manage a small business. Specifically, a street vendor stall. What Cart Life does differently is subvert the expectation that the same job means the same person. For example, the first two characters are an immigrant and a mother, and they are radically different despite their similar jobs. While they share similar goals and desires – providing for themselves and the ones they care about, usually – their differing starting situations lead to completely different interactions.

This is what Cart Life attempts to teach the player, and is also the reason why it was nominated for both Nuovo and Narrative. We treat people differently based on our perceptions, even if the person shares a lot in common with us. Like a similar job. We seek to compartmentalize others into distinct substrata that we can choose to acknowledge or ignore. This basic lesson is everywhere in Cart Life. Of course, Cart Life doesn’t deserve the Grand Prize nomination just for this. It’s interesting from both a visual and audio perspective as well, with excellent visual abstraction and a stellar soundtrack. The message just tends to override most other concerns. You can download Cart Life from the developer for free.

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