2023 Freeplay Award Rules & Submission Guidelines

The following rules are the conditions for participating in the 2023 Freeplay Awards. By entering and participating, entrants accept these conditions.

Who can enter?

  • The Awards are open to all Australian independent game developers, students, and artists.
  • The 'Across the Ditch' category is open to entries from New Zealand, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, and Niue. Games in this category are NOT eligible for other categories.
  • Entries may be made by either individuals or teams.


  • This competition is a game of skill, and chance plays no part in determining the winners.
  • Freeplay reserves the right in its sole discretion to decide whether an entry may compete or not.
  • Freeplay's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The judges must be confident that Entries are created in the “indie spirit”. Anyone who feels unsure about eligibility may contact us via the email below.
  • Entrants must be Australian or residing in Australia (on any visa/immigration status). If an entry is made by a team, the majority of the team should be Australian or residing in Australia.
  • For the ‘Across The Ditch' category, Entrants (or the majority of the Entrant team) must be from or are residing in New Zealand, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, and Niue. This is the only category New Zealand and Oceania game developers are eligible for.
  • For the ‘Emerging Game Developers' category, Entrants (or the majority of the student-led Entrant team) must be within the first 5 years of their game practice (including students).
  • Emerging game developers may submit their games to any and all other categories.
  • Non-digital games may be submitted to any and all other categories.
  • Entries may not have been completed or released for sale or public play before the previous Freeplay Awards submission deadline (25th April, 2021).
  • Entries may not have been a finalist for any previous Freeplay Award, unless the Entry has been substantially developed/changed since the last submission.
  • Entries must be complete, near complete works are eligible as long as they are representative of the finished piece.
  • Multiple entries may be submitted by the same Entrant.
  • Our judges are able to review games on the following platforms: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, XBox One, VR (Quest 2, Oculus, HTC Vive), Tabletop/Card/Other Non-Digital, and Website (i.e. you don't have to download anything, just access the game online). Other platforms or setups may be considered on a case by case basis.
  • For games that involve in-person attendance, please reach out at awards@freeplay.net.au to discuss your entry beforehand so we can ensure someone is available to judge it.


  • To compete, an Entry must be submitted via the online submission form, and any additional supporting material via email or post.
  • Entries for the Awards may be submitted in one of the following formats:
    • A direct download URL (hosted on Google Drive, Dropbox, website, etc.)
    • A link to a webpage (HTML5/web games, etc.)
    • A promo code, key, or invitation (Steam, Humble, Itch.io, TestFlight, etc.) – you must provide a minimum of 6-10 keys for our judges (note: some keys expire!). They can be the same keys for multiple submissions of the same game to multiple categories, as we do have judge overlap.
    • A USB flash drive. The game should be directly runnable, or have an installer.
    • A physical package with instructions/rules or other in the case of non-digital or physical/live games.
  • Entries, including the online form, must be submitted or postmarked no later than 11:59pm (AEDT) on Wednesday 25th October 2023.
  • If your game is on-site (e.g. escape rooms, room-scale VR, etc.) or has specific hardware requirements such as custom peripherals or hardware, Freeplay will work with you to arrange an opportunity to showcase your game to the Judges prior to the closing of the judging period. Please indicate this on your application form.
  • We cannot guarantee that judges will have access to any special hardware required to play your game.
  • For physical entries, it is recommended that you use registered post to submit your entry. The mail address is:
    • Freeplay Independent Games Festival,
      The Wheeler Centre,
      176 Little Lonsdale Street,
      Melbourne, VIC 3000


  • Before submitting an Entry, the Entrant must have obtained the written permission of all persons or entities having any rights in the Entry, and the Entrant must be authorised by all people involved in the entry's creation.
  • A competing team owns all the rights to its entry and Freeplay will not distribute or exhibit the final game without the team's consent.
  • Freeplay reserves the right to use screenshots of submitted works in their publicity, with the team's consent.
  • Entries that make use of pre-existing technology (libraries, game engines, etc.) must have all the necessary rights to use that technology in a non-commercial setting, i.e. respect copyrights and any applicable licence agreements.


  • Submission is free of charge.

Exhibition space

  • Exhibition opportunities may become available for finalists & winners during and after the festival. Freeplay will contact eligible projects and discuss agreements and exhibition rights if this is the case.


  • Award nominees and winners are selected by the competition's panel of Judges. The Judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The panel of Judges will consist of judges as selected by Freeplay.
  • The judges will select up to five best Entrants in each category as the ‘Award nominees'.
  • Judging Categories are:
    • The Freeplay Award (Best Game)
    • Excellence in Design
    • Excellence in Visual Art
    • Excellence in Audio
    • Excellence in Narrative
    • Excellence in Non-Digital Games
    • Excellence in Micro-Games
    • Excellence in Experimental Games
    • Excellence in Emerging Game Developers
    • Across The Ditch Award
  • Games may be entered in any category for which Entrants feel they are eligible. This includes non-digital games being eligible for more than just the Non-Digital category, and emerging game developers being eligible for more than just the Emerging Game Developers category.
  • The Judges will judge the entries of each of the award nominees and will select the best entrant in each category as the winner based on originality, creativity, artistic vision, and willingness to experiment.
  • Judges shall have no pecuniary or other interest in a nominee, or if so will disclose this interest and recuse themselves from discussions and votes involving the nominee.
  • The winner of each category will be awarded a Josie, the Freeplay Independent Games Festival Awards Trophy.


  • Nominated projects will be notified by around January 2024.
  • The Award recipients will be announced during the Freeplay Awards Ceremony in February 2024.
  • The Award Trophies will be posted to the Award recipients after the Ceremony has concluded. Freeplay will be in touch with Award recipients to organise this.