2023 Freeplay Awards banner

The 2023 Freeplay Awards

The 2023 Freeplay Awards for excellence in indie games (digital and non-digital) in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania are now open.

For submission, creators must be able to provide a copy of the game (via a private URL, access through the App Store, Play Store, Steam, Itch.io, Humble or the like, or physically get it to us within the submission period).

Interactive experiences (escape rooms, live art, immersive art, etc) are also very welcome to apply! Just provide some documentation of your work (e.g. video/photos) for our judges to evaluate, or let us know how we may be able to experience it in person.

Submissions will close 11:59pm (AEDT) on Wednesday 25th October, 2023. Any games being submitted by post (see submission form for address) must be post-marked by 25th October, and received by Freeplay within two working days of the deadline.

Finalists will be announced in January-February 2024. The Awards Ceremony will take place in person in February 2024 – stay tuned to our socials for more details!

2023 Freeplay Award Categories:

  • The Freeplay Award (Best Game)
  • Excellence in Design
  • Excellence in Visual Art
  • Excellence in Audio
  • Excellence in Narrative
  • Non-Digital Game Award
  • Micro-Game Award
  • Experimental Game Award
  • Emerging Game Developers Award
  • Across The Ditch Award (New Zealand/Oceania)

All games will be considered for The Freeplay Award (Best Game).

Short descriptions of each category may be found on the submission form.

Work released or presented publicly after 26th April 2021 are eligible for the 2023 Awards round. Entries need to be complete or near complete: near complete entries (e.g. demos, Early Access) need to be representative of the final product.

Please read before applying:

Submission Rules & Guidelines

Submission deadline:

Wednesday 25th October 2023, 11:59pm (AEDT)

Submissions close in:








2023 Freeplay Awards Jury

Creatrix Tiara - Awards Lead, Freeplay

Creatrix Tiara (Awards Lead, VIC)

Creatrix Tiara is the first ever Awards Lead for Freeplay, one of the longest-running festivals for independent games in the world. Tiara works with creative arts and media, technology, games, community cultural development, and education to explore ideas around community, identity, liminality, belonging, and social justice, with a particular interest in bringing together different artforms in emerging and experimental ways. Currently Tiara is very interested in ways to bring video games and performing arts together, such as analysing stage magic in video games as part of their PNGTubing stream or producing & directing ACNH Fringe, a Fringe Festival held within a dedicated Animal Crossing: New Horizons island.

Alex Wynnter - Founder (Tabletop Game Designers Australia)

Alex Wynnter (VIC) is the Creative Director of Red Genie Games and a very busy dude. Along with recent fatherhood he juggles podcasting, designing and developing games, teaching design, managing the TGDA Facebook group and generally being a man about town in the Australian board gaming community.

Cecile Richard - 2021 Freeplay Award Winner (UNDER A STAR CALLED SUN)

Cecile Richard (VIC) is an award-winning graphic designer and game maker who makes cool things on the computer and lives on Wurundjeri land aka Melbourne.

Dakoda Barker - Designer, Writer, Consultant

Dakoda Barker (VIC) is a designer, writer, and consultant, and has won awards for his work, including the Freeplay Independent Games Festival micro-game award for ‘Rise’. He specialises in the areas of chronic health conditions and Aboriginal Australia, and also works as a freelance writer and editor.

Dan Ferguson - 2021 Freeplay Award Winner (Completely Stretchy and Uncomfortable Sticky)

Dan Ferguson (VIC) is a Melbourne-based games designer and artist who won a 2021 Freeplay Award for his game Completely Stretchy and Uncomfortably Sticky.

dana mckay - 2021 Freeplay Award Winner (A Long Goodbye)

dana mckay (ACT) is a writer and award winning game designer with a passion for storytelling in any medium or form. When Dana’s not doing that, Dana plays guitar and make questionable decisions in RPGs. Dana currently works as a Game Designer at EA Firemonkeys and won a 2021 Freeplay Award for A Long Goodbye.

Edwin Montgomery - 2021 Freeplay Award Winner (Neon Cyborg Cat Club)

Edwin Montgomery (NSW) is a composer, musician and mixed media artist who works across film, games, immersive theatre, installations and mixed media artworks. They are known for the epic orchestral soundtrack to Warhammer 40,000: Regicide, the dystopian soundtrack to Wasteland and their live solo performances of original multi-instrumental film scores. Edwin also creates sonic-driven interactive multimedia artworks and games, including Neon Cyborg Cat Club (winner of the 2021 Freeplay Experimental Game Award); and Isolationist Nightclub Simulator, an online interactive music experience funded by Creative Victoria. 

Ella Lim - 2021 Freeplay Award Winner (The Lighthouse at the End of the Universe)

Ella Lim (TAS) is an award winning TTRPG writer, graphic designer and zine maker. Currently she runs her online shop and freelance graphic design full time. As part of LostWays, Ella won a 2021 Freeplay Award for The Lighthouse at the End of the Universe.

Jarra Karaliner Steel - Art Director (FUCK_ & Curator (RISING Art Trams)

Jarra Karaliner Steel (VIC) is a Multidisciplinary artist based in Melbourne’s south in Euro Yuroke (St Kilda) on Boonwurrung country. Jarra is of the Yaluk-ut Weelam clan of the Boonwurrung, Wemba Wemba, Pairrebeenne/Trawlwoolway with lines to the Barrup Barrup clans. She also is of English and Scottish descent. Jarra is a passionate advocate for Self-Representation/determination of Victorian First Peoples Art and Culture and is determined in making sure it is kept alive and thriving. Jarra is currently the curator for the 2022 Rising Art Trams and the Art Director for GUCK Inc. for an untitled video game.

Marisa Wikramanayake - Journalist & MEAA Federal Council Member

Marisa Wikramanayake (VIC) is a Sri Lankan-born, Australia-based creative writer, journalist and editor. They currently write about property investment and development for The Urban Developer and have previously reported for The Age, The South China Morning Post, and The Guardian among others. They have written about international politics, business, science and the arts. They have  been longlisted for manuscript awards for their first literary novel and were awarded the inaugural KSP-Varuna Foundation Fellowship working on their first crime fiction novel. They are the current Victorian media section president for the MEAA and the deputy president for the MEAA’s Ethics Committee. They are also an avid gamer and stream gameplay and writing online on Twitch.

Noah Seymour - 2021 Freeplay Award Winner (Webbed)

Noah Seymour (QLD) is a game designer that makes small games mostly focused on exploring spaces. They won a 2021 Freeplay Award for Webbed.

Phoebe Watson - Lead Game Designer (GUCK)

Phoebe Watson (VIC) is a proud Yarrer Gunditj woman from the Maar Nation in South West Victoria. Phoebe graduated from RMIT in 2020 with a bachelors degree in Game Design. Since graduating she has continued to work in the games industry working locally with GUCK on their unannounced indigenous led project as a game designer. Phoebe has worked locally within Melbourne and Australia as well as internationally with Star Stable Entertainment on their new project as a writer and junior designer, and Ubisoft in a small sensitivity reading role on Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.

Previous Awards


The Freeplay Award: Umurangi Generation

Category Winners

Excellence in Design: Webbed

Excellence in Visual Art: Completely Stretchy and Uncomfortably Sticky

Excellence in Audio: Mealmates

Excellence in Narrative: A Long Goodbye

Non-Digital Game Award: The Lighthouse at the End of the Universe


Experimental Game Award: Neon Cyborg Cat Club

Student Game Award: The Snowgardens

Across The Ditch Award: Before We Leave


The Freeplay Award: A Hand With Many Fingers

Category Winners

Excellence in Design: A Hand with Many Fingers

Excellence in Visual Art: ENDLESS SCROLL

Excellence in Audio: Unfamiliar

Excellence in Narrative: Life Tastes Like Cardboard

Non-Digital Game Award: The Outer Whorls

Micro-Game Award: Something Looks Weird

Experimental Game Award: If We Were Allowed To Visit

Student Game Award: Ascent of Grob’s Domain

Across The Ditch Award: Leap of Leaf


The Freeplay Award: New Ice York

Category Winners

Excellence in Design: JUMPGRID

Excellence in Visual Art: Necrobarista

Excellence in Audio: Skyward Journey

Excellence in Narrative: The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game

Non-Digital Game Award: Edible Games Cookbook

Micro-Game Award: Novena

Experimental Game Award: The Common Campfire

Student Game Award: Pigeon Game

Across The Ditch Award: Toripon 鳥ポン


The Freeplay Award: The Catacombs of Solaris

Category Winners

Excellence in Design: Dissembler

Excellence in Visual Art: Paperbark

Excellence in Audio: Florence

Excellence in Narrative: Bound By Blood

Non-Digital Game Award: {<>}

Micro-Game Award: Rise

Experimental Game Award: Thomas Bowker’s Draw

Student Game Award: Lacuna

Across The Ditch Award: Echo Grotto


The Freeplay Award: Push Me Pull You

Category Winners

Best Design: Push Me Pull You

Best Visual Art: Movement Study 1

Best Audio: Submerged

Best Narrative: Project Ven

Best TechSpace Dust Racers

Best Non-Digital: Rise to Power


Best Game: Framed

Category Winners

Design: Framed

Visual Art: The Paper Fox

Audio Design: Particulars

Narrative: Particulars

Technical Innovation: Turnover

Non-Digital: Outside These City Walls

People’s Choice: Turnover


Best Australian Game: Stickets

Category Winners

Best Design in a Game: They Love You

Best International Game: Splice

Best Art in a Game: Toybox

Best Concept Art: Peleda

Best Audio in a Game: Lunar Flight

Best Technical Innovation: Automation

Best Writing in a Game: Flatland: Fallen Angle


Best Australian Game: Antichamber

Category Winners

Best International Game: The Swapper

Best Design: Antichamber

Best On-Paper Design: Dead Eye

Best Art: Warco

Best Concept Art: Firo

Best Technical Innovation: Kingspray

Best Game Writing: MacGuffin’s Curse

Best Audio: Solar 2


Best Australian Game: Jolly Rover

Category Winners

Best Design in a Game: Up Down Ready

Best On-Paper Design: iCrazy Man

Best Art in a Game: Captain Forever (Series)

Best Concept Art: Exodus

Best Technical Innovation: Colourbind

Best Game Writing: Transumer

Best Audio: Train Conductor

Best International Game: Last Hope