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Geoff Keighley says Best Independent Game is ‘a really complicated’ category to define

The host of The Game Awards, Geoff Keighley, has acknowledged the confusion surrounding which games can be considered eligible for the Best Independent Game category, and says it’s “it’s a really complicated thing to figure out.”

This came up during a livestream on Twitch yesterday (November 26), in which one fan asked Keighley what the thought process was behind Dave the Diver’s Best Independent Game nomination. For context, the underwater adventure game is developed by Mintrocket, a subsidiary of the large South Korean game publisher Nexon, which has prompted many to question if it should have been eligible for nomination in the first place. 

“It’s a great question. ‘Independent’ can mean different things to different people, and it’s sort of a broad term,” Keighley said. “You can argue does independent mean the budget of the game? Does independent mean where the source of financing was, is it based on the team size? Is it the kind of independent spirit of the game, meaning a smaller game that’s sort of different? I think everyone has their own opinion about this, and we really defer to our jury, 120 global media outlets, that vote on these awards, to kind of make that determination of ‘is something independent’ or not.” 

He continued, adding that the conversations over whether Dave the Diver is “truly independent” or not are “fair debate and discussion.” He also acknowledged that “there are other games on [the Best Independent Game list] that are from much smaller studios.”

“It’s a really complicated thing to figure out and come up with strict rules around it, so we kind of let people use their best judgment, and you can agree or disagree with the choices,” he explained. “But the fact that Dave the Diver was on that list meant that out of all the independent games that the jury looked at, or what they thought were independent games, that was one of the top five that they looked at this year.”

Before wrapping up his response, Keighley added: “We’re open to thinking, moving forward, how do you define that category, but you have to come up with a criteria.”

The other games nominated for The Game Awards’ Best Independent Game this year are Geometric Interactive’s puzzle game Cocoon, Sabotage Studio’s role-playing game Sea of Stars, Sad Owl Studios’ puzzle-platformer Viewfinder, and Black Salt Game’s fishing game Dredge

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