Since 2012 A MAZE. awards ARTHOUSE games and PLAYFUL media works. From 204 entries out of 40 countries, 25 nominees will now compete for the following categories:
The Grand Prize of the A MAZE. Awards goes to the most relevant, forward-thinking interactive and playful content. We premiere the best work overall - in terms of art, innovation, music, story and interaction. The prize is dedicated to the masterpiece of the award selection that shows us a path we never walked before.
This award goes to the best game that can be played by two or more people in the same room (local multiplayer), and includes some digital element – fully analog games won’t be accepted.
This is the award for complex games and developing virtual reality worlds. Those are the ones, who challenge your life by offering immersive storytelling and much more than 2hrs gameplay.
Poems, statements, experiments, short experiences – expressions of socio-critical messages, personal or comedic life situations and feelings through an interactive medium. Maybe a sensual mechanic, a toy that gives the player a surprising twist in their experience.
Go, where nobody has gone before! This is the award for all forms of experiences beyond the boundaries of contemporary ways to play or develop games. Here, we are exploring alternative controllers, interactive installations, creative coding experiments, robotics and tech performances, as well as interdisciplinary teams, collaborations with science, makers, engineers, researchers, theater and writers.
The exact nominations for those categories will be announced on July 23.
All Exhibits at A MAZE./ Berlin also have the chance to win the Audience Award. Continuing our cooperation with Humble, artists worldwide can win the Humble New Talent Award.
This is the award the audience votes for. Each exhibited work at the festival has a chance to win it. Visitors get 3 pink dots to vote for their favourite - most dots win!
Outside of the competing nominees, the Humble New Talent Award highlights important new voices in the culture of games. Nominees are chosen by A MAZE. and will not be awarded for one game, but their work and thoughts in general.
The winners are selected by an interdisciplinary, international and 100% independent jury and will be revealed during the A MAZE./ Berlin Award Show on July 24th!
An adventure game that is played in Notepad. Open text files to move around town, fight monsters by typing and deleting characters, and solve unique puzzles by manipulating the text.
Marta Nawrot, Jagoda Wójtowicz and Krystian Brych (PL)
A multi-user experience in virtual reality that touches on the subject of intimacy and crossing the borders of corporeality. One of the main thematic platforms addressed in the work is the theme of the network and its structures, through the prism of somaesthetics (philosophy of the body) also touching upon the issues of body / identity - both real and virtual.
Might and Delight (SE)
Venture out into a living, breathing fairytale world. Craft a character with its own unique personality and explore the open land however you choose. Set your own goals and shape your adventure alone or with the others you find in this serene online TMORPG. "Tiny Multiplayer Online"
888 and KRL (US)
Brave mouse cartographer i is an ambient system to be enjoyed either on its own or as the basis for a community-based cooperative mapping game. Participants work together handing off the role of mapmaker as the group tries slowly to chart on paper (or other preferred external medium) the contours and contents of a wide and mysterious continent from the point of view of our small brave hero clinging dearly to the back of a great bird flying at random according to its own unknowable whims.
Enric Granzotto Llagostera (CA)
This is a game about how immigration systems and capitalist discourses of multiculturalism combine to oppress migrants. Visa applicants (or players) are tasked with cooking a typical dish of their country of origin using a cooking station. Immigration authorities then evaluate applicants according to their efficiency and potential to contribute to the new country’s society. Cooking becomes a standardized test, one step within a longer application process.
Neilson Koerner-Safrata (CA)
DUSTNET is a multiplayer server box preserving the ruins of the last remaining Counter-Strike lobby. Connect to it as a computer, virtual reality, or augmented reality player and sift through the corrupted cyberspace of de_dust2.
Totally Not A Game Studio (SE)
Grave Call is a time based two-player coop game where you work together to try to find and rescue one of the players from being buried alive.
Transcenders Media (SE)
In Knife Sisters, the player explores emotions, consent, power and dependency in a safe setting. Follow non-binary Leo during six weeks of budding emotions, occult rituals, and consensual sex. Explore power balances through the relationships with different characters. What will they make you do?
Gaël Bourhis (FR)
Kristallijn is a short first-person ambient game experimenting around the strobe effect. It’s an experience about motion without motion, where the interval between two flashes becomes an unresolved space, questioning the continuity of our perceptions and our existences.
No Time (DE)
Marble Run is a fast-paced local co-op game, played on a 3×3 video wall with alternative game controllers. As grumpy marbles make their way through a mazy and slightly confusing contraption of a marble run, you have to communicate and coordinate with your team to make sure all buttons are pressed, bridges are placed, levers are shifted, and wires are plugged, so the marbles find their right way. Assign each marble the correct colour and shape, so it can reach the end. Arrange your resources well to collect bonus points. But be careful! Otherwise, marbles get lost - or even destroyed - on the way.
Die Gute Fabrik (DK)
A mutant soap opera where small-town gossip meets the supernatural. Join Kai as she arrives in the mysterious community of Mutazione to care for her ailing grandfather. Discover scenic hangouts, magical gardens, new friends, and old secrets... They can survive an apocalyptic meteor strike, but can they survive their small-town drama?
Lena NW & Costcodreamgurl (US)
A CHYOA/dating-sim & rap musical, set in high school in an apocalyptic alternate universe. A dialogue decision-making gameplay expresses the protagonist’s struggles with intrusive thoughts & impulsivity. This character-driven gameplay also explores relationships, morality, sexuality & manipulation. Original soundtrack written & performed by the developer Lena NW. Contains explicit content for mature audiences.
Joon, Pol, Muutsch and Char (IS)
Gear up your caravan, spread out your map and head for the depths of Melmoth Forest, where you’ll track the movements of native squirrels. Where do they go? What do they do? And why is it that they behave so strangely? Explore the forest. Record the squirrels. Report your findings… and uncover the secret at the very heart of the forest.
Cinétévé / ARTE (FR)
ØRDESA is an interactive film on the border between video game and movie. A story of a new genre that places the viewer at the center of the storytelling. In ØRÐESA the viewer embodies one of the characters of the film. A ghostly presence, invisible on the screen, but whose movements can modify the scenery and be felt by the other protagonists in the film. By interacting with the image, the viewer's actions can have an immediate impact or be visible later in the film. Some interactions impact objects or elements of the set. Others make the characters react and can influence the unfolding of the story.
Yuliya Kozhemyako and Margarita Skomorokh (RU)
Overseas is a collection of 4 short art games (digital poems). So far, it includes four episodes: a psychedelic trip, a forest horror, a crash course on shamanic techniques, and a simulator of an identity crisis. The goal is to take a journey and figure out the obscure meaning of what is going on.
Jasper Oprel (NL)
A digital painting (framed screen in portrait mode) shows a stoic cliff. Hidden away is another screen and controller for a person to control a little person that lives inside of the painting. With all sorts of 'Wizard of Oz'-style buttons and levers they can safely manipulate the painting off-screen. If they're daring they can come out of their hiding hole and see themselves through the eyes of the observers of the painting. Please break the painting.
Julián Palacios (IT)
Promesa is a first-person experience in which the viewer moves through memories, dreams and fantasies, exploring the narrative created by the images that emerge when you listen to someone else. It’s an audiovisual narrative where the focus is the individual relationship with space and in which movement is the only interaction. Promesa is composed by a series of 3D scenes and short texts that have always a different order.
Adriaan de Jongh and Buds (NL)
Secret Shuffle is a headphone party game in which the players that dance to the same music have to find each other. Between 4 and 40 players download the app, wear their headphones, pick a game mode and music pack, and get the party started!
Cosmo D Studios (US)
Tales From Off-Peak City is a first-person adventure game series, all set on, around, and under a single street corner. Filled with memorable characters and the spaces they inhabit, the game provides an open-ended world full of secrets and hidden agendas. Building on the gameplay foundations of Off-Peak and The Norwood Suite, players will explore the streets and its surroundings, make pizzas, take photos, push buttons, open drawers they’re not supposed to, and lose themselves inside the atmospheric musical score that integrates itself directly into the game world.
Tender Claws (US)
The Under Presents merges VR and immersive theater. The game has several unique innovations including the use of live actors to inhabit NPCs while the players and actors are remote in their headsets. In this unique and unpredictable experience, players converge in the otherworldly hub of “The Under,” where ever-changing stage shows are presided over by an enigmatic MC. The main show is The Aickman, a long-form narrative where players explore the mystery of an ill-fated research ship and follow characters as their supplies dwindle and they disappear one-by-one. Players can manipulate time to unlock narrative scenes and potentially work with past ghosts of themselves to solve puzzles that alter the fates of the Aickman’s crew.
Marc Loths (NZ)
This, Too, Shall Pass is a game/art project about the climate crisis and the ephemeral nature of everything. It consists of a Twitter bot that is connected to five different versions of the game currently in circulation on USB sticks around the world. Each one of the five versions is set in a different climate zone, resulting in different looking worlds and different species of plants. The game is also accompanied by a downloadable B-side remix game priced based on the current global average temperature
Finifugu Games Ltd. (HK)
T.M.Cooks is 1-6 local co-op game for mobile where your party runs a kitchen, chaotically juggling cooking, time and sending ingredients between their team! Players will need to talk, shout and discuss to organise both their pipeline and team!
Manu Wirth and Léa Coquoz (CH)
Uncurtainty is an immersive interactive installation, where two players share a common time frame but experiment two distinct stories, separated by a curtain. Guided by a narrator, they will interact with that fabric and the person behind, with situations that can be amusing, surprising or confusing. Uncurtainty is about contact, communication, behavior and so much more.
Navigating Without Coordinates is a videogame network of nine worlds - each one a personal utopia developed by a member of AAA Collective. By connecting our utopias, we draw attention to their conflicting ideals. Is a collective utopia possible? Can different utopias co-exist, or does their idealism render them totalitarian?
Sadly, we can *just* have 25 nominees, but some works still are absolutly worth checking out!
Keep an eye out for the following honorable mentions:
Ram Ram (BE)
“30 Birds” is a game inspired by Persan miniatures aesthetics, eastern fairy tales and modern Istanbul. Gameplay is non violent, rather exploration, detective work, plus puzzles and simple playful interactions in the style of games like Windosill, GNOG or Vignettes.
When you wake up, you find yourself alone in a mysterious place. Everything seems alien, nothing is trustworthy anymore. Evershift is a VHS style inspired game that changes its look constantly, based on the player's performance. There are three challenges scattered around the jungle to test the player. To escape from these unfortunate events, the player needs to find the triggers of these challenges and play the mini-games and finish the game.
Jona Kleinlein (NO)
A Cameraman strays with his camera on battle-grounds trying to capture what he sees to make visible textures and moral compasses. What awaits the gaze? The documentary tries to blur the line between the reality of the physical and the digital as its participants and their shared language resemble soldiers of real conflicts. Through this the documentary shows less the game but the simulation on the map of a war-setting and rifts in the hyperrealistic textures.
Achill Island, December 31st 1993. In the crumbling ruin of an old mansion, a young Irish woman named Kasio destroys her diary. It tells the story of her return home to Achill, her conflict with her family, the friendships she makes, and the challenges she faces. And somewhere within its pages is an explanation for the looming black hole that's about to destroy the Earth.Through unique gameplay mechanics, erase anything and everything. Experience a compelling and intense story about family, community, isolation and identity.
Lose yourself in Infinity… but never lose Hope. Try to escape a world of never-ending puzzles and oddities. Challenge your mind in a psychedelic journey full of meaningful encounters with Time, Poetry, Technology, War and Fatality.
Concrete Games (FR)
Janga is about being a pot head that gives life to planetary systems that had been forgotten by life and creation.
William Chyr Studio (US)
Manifold Garden is a game that reimagines physics and space. Explore a world of beautiful Escher-esque architecture where the laws of physics are different. Geometry repeats infinitely in every direction and falling down leads you back to where you started. Manipulate gravity to change your perspective and see the world in new ways. Master the rules of the universe and restore a barren world with vegetation and life.
Hyper Games (NO)
Mørkredd is an atmospheric puzzle adventure set in a mysterious world full of shadows where darkness kills. Your goal is to ferry a large orb of glowing light through a dark world, where stepping into the shadows of the environment will instantly kill you. The game is designed in a way that makes it possible for you to play by yourself or with a friend. Mørkredd means "scared of the dark".
Saam Pahlavan (US)
Pre-Shave is a shaving simulator that touches on the racial anxieties of being a brown man in the United States. Posed as a comedic grooming simulator the player controls the creator of the game, Saam, as he prepares for an upcoming trip.
Kas Ghobadi (US)
Stereophyta is a vibrant digital world where all things naturally produce music. All physical interactions, like the wind passing through the plants, animals wandering the wilds, and even the player's movement through the space, cause sound to play and create rhythmic compositions.
Torpor Games (DE)
As President Rayne, lead Sordland into ruin or repair in the first year of your term. Navigate a political drama story driven by conversations with your cabinet members and other significant figures in a country with its own complicated history. Beware or embrace corruption; shirk or uphold ideals. How will you lead?
The Humble New Talent Award highlights important new voices in the culture of games. Nominees are chosen by A MAZE. and will not be awarded for one game, but their work and thoughts in general. Winners will be awarded with $15.000 to create a Humble Original.
Andreas Diktyopoulos, Maria Aloupi
As visible in their minimalistic style - beyondthosehills is a collaboration of members having a strong scientific and artistic background that stemmed from the experience gained by an active career as developers, musicians, artists, producers and curators.
Designer, writer, artist and researcher Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. creates and studies Indigenous-led media. She is Anishinaabe with family from Bay Mills, Métis, and Irish.
Annika Maar, JONI LEVINKIND, SVYATOSLAV PETROV
Happy Broccoli Games is a young and fresh studio founded by an illustrator, programmer and sounddesigner, tackling their first project: a surreal time traveling high school adventure.
Mwaaba is a young designer currently working on transforming Zambian history about religious leader Alice Lenshina and the Lumpa Massacre into his interactive 'Project Lumpa'.
Dhruv Jani and Sushant Chakraborty
Dhurv's and Sushant's works are conducted at the intersection of post colonial writing and interactive fiction, using videogame spaces as sites of discourse, resistance and record to study colonial power structures and the histories that they occlude.
Our interdisciplinary, international and 100% independent jury has the honors to review all nominees. As every game could be the Most Amazing one, they also have the freedom to select the nominees' categories, which will be revealed on April 23rd.
Nathalie Lawhead is a net-artist and game designer that has been creating experimental digital art since the late 90's. Past works include titles such as the IGF winning Tetrageddon Games, "Everything is going to be OK", and the Electric Zine Maker.
Part of last years Most Amazing Award Winner Huldufugl, Owen is creating immersive theatrical environments and works with software, sound and electronics to make experiences for VR, installations, games, performances, & the web. He is also a co-founder at Horizons Studio making music-centered VR experiences.
rayzones is a Moscow-based artist and game designer. They are a part of lowpolis, a two-member team that makes things like Good Morning Drifter — a non-racing experience with pears, — and Gift-Exchange-Machine — a stork-powered postcard exchange service.
Sarah is the founder of herzteile, a blog about games, gender, politics and their culture. Next to her activies as author, podcaster and speaker, she was also co-curating Rainbow Arcade, the first exhibition of queer games.
Simon works as a freelance Producer for video games studios since several years. He is currently working at Accidental Queens after the release of three narrative games. Besides game development, he organises and produces events dedicated to the independent game developers and alternative scenes. Past and current events he did include The NotGames Fest, ZooMachines and IndieCade Europe.