At the heart of GameFest is its Showcase and Competition, an opportunity for participating teams to exhibit their games and earn one (or more!) of a number of awards -- and accompanying monetary prizes. The competition itself is judged each year by a rotating panel of local industry experts, all of whom bring a wealth of experience from across the game development world.

See below for more information about recent winners! 

GameFest 2024

Winner: Mushroom Kid's Big Grass Sword 
University: Rochester Institute of Technology

Description: Mushroom Kid's Big Grass Sword is a narrative, physics-based, precision platformer that follows Mica, a little mushroom, on a journey to rescue their village after the residents are captured by a gigantic bird. Meet Grandmashroom as she leads Mica to a mysterious temple to claim the Blade of Grass: a powerful weapon with the ability to pull Mica up ledges and over dangerous obstacles.

Check them out on Steam.

Winner: Project Jerboa  
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: A physics-based puzzle-platformer about a telekinetic Jerboa's journey through a strange facility. Run, hop, and sling your way across a variety of obstacles, hazards, and time trials! Created for Game Development II at RPI.

Play now on itch!

Winner: Bed and Beakfast 

Description: Bed and BEAKfast is a management and narrative game set in a world of birds! Play as Robin and return home to revitalize your late Pa's bed and breakfast, forging meaningful connections as you reconnect with the community by cooking foods and tending to the B&B!

Check out the game on Steam!

Winner: Grapple Fisher DX
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: Grapple your way out of your boring desk job to pursue your true fishing passion! Whether you realize it in The Garden, Fort Glub, or The Abyss is up to you! You are no GOOGAN, use your hook to catch every kind of fish you can find, and the biggest too - there are some real hogs. If you can't reach the next pond, you might need to repurpose your hook to grapple closer - your favorite lawn chair and cooler have become MOBILE! Vacation isn't vacation if you have to stand up or run to the fridge. If your rod ever runs out of juice, your beer can be repurposed too, as a fuel tank! Collect more of that beer to keep in your cooler to relax even harder.

Check out their itch page or watch the trailer here.

Winner: Imogen Part 1 
University: New York University

Description: Imogen, Part 1 is the first serialization of an experimental narrative on divorced parents’ grief after the loss of their daughter. Experience Sarah and Jamie’s internal turmoil through the lens of fleeting moments, both past and present. In a story that captures the ebb and flow of human connection through hand-crafted images and subtle, expressive controls, one question lingers throughout: as we mourn, can we find the resolve to find solace in ourselves, and in others?

Winner: TIME: Journey to Nowruz 
University: University of Connecticut

Description: “TIME: Journey to Nowruz” is an immersive, educational, and inspiring game that offers a unique window into the vibrant culture and rich history of Iran. This game, centered around Nowruz, the Persian New Year, immerses players in the tradition of curating the Haftsin table and participating in cherished Persian rituals. It serves as a bridge, bonding Iranian immigrants together and encouraging them to share their distinctive traditions in their new communities.

The game provides a snapshot of Iran’s abundant historical, cultural, and mystical narratives, waiting to be explored. Designed with advanced storytelling, gamified rituals, and immersive environments, it steers players through imaginatively reconstructed historical and fictional settings, brimming with interactive historical and cultural artifacts.

The story follows a young boy, Farid, on his quest to revive Nowruz and reunite with his family to celebrate the arrival of spring. Tasked with helping his grandmother prepare for the New Year celebration, Farid embarks on a magical journey back to the creation of Nowruz. In Persepolis, the heart of the Achaemenid Empire, Farid meets with Cyrus the Great, Haji Firuz, and Amu Nowruz. By collecting items reflecting Haftsin traditions, he breaks the frozen curse cast by Nane Sarma. The game culminates in a vibrant Nowruz celebration, highlighting familial bonds, cultural heritage, and the transformative power of traditions.

“TIME: Journey to Nowruz” is more than just a game; it’s an odyssey into the heart of Persian culture, a celebration of heritage, and a testament to the transformative power of traditions.

Winner: One Step Further 
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: Sisyphus, once a great king who cheated Death itself, has been forever bound to a mountain, forced to repeat his endeavor endlessly. He must endlessly roll a boulder up a mountain, only for it to fall time and time again, but he does not despair. He does not give in. Rather, he devotes each day to pushing himself a bit further towards the limit of his space. 

Play it now on itch.

Winner: BONK 
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: BONK is a game where you BONK your friends, family, comrades, companions, and other fellow players! Use your hammer. That's it (oh, and there's some fun twists too).

Check out BONK on

GameFest 2023

Black-and-white screenshot from Shroomies.

Winner: Shroomies 
University: City University of New York

Description: Shroomies is a floral-themed bullet hell in which you play as a grumpy mushroom and blast through waves of flowers. Shoot, dodge and survive five difficult waves of furious flora. Can't  make it to the end? No worries -- because with every death comes progress! After dying, the next  generation will pick up the legacy of the previous ones. Fallen mushrooms are reborn in the form of Shroomies, little helpers that provide auxiliary fire and increase your number of health points. Build up your community with each attempt and give the future generations of shrooms a better fighting chance!

Play for free on Itch! 

Cover design that reads "nameless. a tabletop game about fae by ivy inskeep."

Winner: Nameless  
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: Nameless is a table-top role-playing game about the process of self-discovery in relation to one's name. It's a representation of the struggles of processing one's gender identity through a more mystical lens -- the fae wilds. This game is about the journey to find yourself, your truest self, but it's also about every beautiful milestone you reach along that journey, the moments of understanding that make you realize you're on the way to being yourself.

Now available for purchase on Itch!

Screenshot of pirate ships from High Zeaz.

Winner: High Zeaz 
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: What do you do with an undead sailor? Find out in High Zeaz, a PSX-styled zombie pirate movement shooter with grappling hooks! As a freshly turned zombie, a former prisoner of war, use your trusty Hook Shot and Swing Shot to zip and swing around three expansive levels on a quest to become the greatest pirate who ever died... But beware -- you're not the only affront to nature out on the ocean, so you best be prepared to take down skeletons, ghosts, and a horrifying eldritch boss along the way!

Play for free on Itch!

Screenshot from GODWALKER.

University: New York University

Description: In GODWALKER, a return to the classic first-person "boomer shooter" genre, it's been 10,000 years since the Great Evil has been released. The world was torn apart and is now ravaged by otherworldly robotic invaders. From the ashes, techno-wizards built you: The ultimate scrap-bot killing machine imbued with the essence of the Mecha-Gods. But none of this really matters: Eat the GODHEART. Kill the enemy. 

Check out the game's website and then download the latest build(s) for free on Github!

Screenshot of "main" screen on snapshot.

Winner: snapshot 
University: City University of New York

Description: What does someone look like at their happiest? In snapshot, you'll play as a ghost with no memories and the power to travel through time. Click through the days, months, and years, exploring thirty years worth of memories and remembering a life that once was. Search for your happiest day in this short, hour-long narrative clicker game.

Play in browser for free on Itch!

Screenshot of the therapist and a teddy bear from Safe Space.

Winner: Safe Space 
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: Safe Space is a hair-raising exploration-interactive story in which you play as therapist seeking to help a six-year-old child uncover the source of their trauma. To do so, you will travel through the mind of the child and meet key characters from the child's past through their disturbing point of view. The further you progress in the story, the deeper you'll delve into the child's mind. 

Download for free on Itch!

Title card for The Defense of Trewel Towers.

Winner: The Defense of Trewel Towers 
University: Quinnipiac University

Description: In this virtual reality tower defense game, you'll embody the hero of the Orna Kingdom -- and you'll use your archery skills to defend the kingdom from atop an array of towers! Follow the hero's story, gain magical abilities, and upgrade the towers' defenses in order to repel invaders from another world. 

Available for free on Itch!

Screenshot of bomb production from Shortest Fuse.

Winner: Shortest Fuse 
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: Featuring three games in one, Shortest Fuse allows you to experience the full story of the Short Fuse Factory! Take the side of the employee tasked with defusing wacky bombs in Short Fuse, the person creating them in Fuse Short, and the one paying the price in Short Fuse: The Short Stick. 

Short Fuse: For one reason or another, your employer has a LOT of bombs. And because you signed the paperwork (not that you knew what you were getting into), you need to defuse each and every bomb! Did we mention that these bombs are all about to explode? Don't worry, all you need to do is snip the red wires. Good luck!

Fuse Short: Way back in the time of Short Fuse, there was someone on the other end of the intercom  to help you on your way. Well... not really help, but they were there, that's for sure. Now you can finally experience a piece of what's on the other side of the intercom! Play as an average office worker whose only job is to make bombs!

Short Fuse: The Short Stick: There are many facets to the Short Fuse Factory. It's what makes the bomb tick, if you will. In this adventure, it's your job to determine who is crucial to the extended success of the Short Fuse Factory. And if no one is crucial? Well I'm sure an AI can replace them. No problem! Right?

Download Shortest Fuse on Itch and play all three now!

Title card for Here There Be Bears.

Winner: Here There Be Bears 
University: University of Connecticut

Description: Here There Be Bears is an interactive media project that immerses the player in the experience of post-traumatic stress disorder. Here, trauma is the bear, lurking somewhere in the penumbra of the cave, seen only in shadow and heard only in echoes. Set in the dark labyrinth of the mind of the protagonist, Sam, the player, will follow the fragmented memories of the caving accident that left her with residual trauma years later. In the midst of her panic, a mysterious voice, emanating from her phone begins urging her  to push through her fear to break free. Even after making it back to reality several times, new triggers and temptations keep her revisiting the shards of traumatic memory.

Keep an eye on the game's website for future updates!

GameFest 2022

Screenshot of jellyfish and girl from Vigorus.

Winner: Vigorus 
University: Rochester Institute of Technology

Description: Vigorus is a rhythm-based platformer, a musical adventure into a bizarre world. Playing as a young girl named Vigorus, you'll seek to recover a lost memory and help your frog-puppet companion to save the world from monsters. 

Available for free on Steam!

Sample character sheet from Case Files.

Winner: Case Files 
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: Case Files is a mystery storytelling role-playing game in which players take on the role of investigators or criminals -- or something between the two -- and solve mysteries. Players use their unique specialties to even the odds on rolls and bet points in their specialties to take a risk on rolls, all in the service of finding the answers they need. 

Buy it over on Itch! 

Screenshot from Tempo.

Winner: Tempo 
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: Tempo is a single-player rhythm game that offers an audiovisual arcade experience to test your speed and accuracy. Control Musa, the musical disco note, and travel through various surreal environments and dance across the universe! Speedrun high-intensity levels by mastering the tracks to top the global leaderboards. 

Available for free on Steam!

Screenshot of a dance battle in Veni, Vidi, Vici.

Winner: Veni, Vidi, Vici 
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: In this rhythm-based role-playing game, you'll play as Delphine, a young woman striving to piece together her memories and unravel the fate of the Arderan people. Engage Tenants of the dungeon in dance battles to rid them of corruption and gain their trust -- and then switch between unlocked tenants on the fly to develop your own mixture of dance styles! 

Unlocking on Steam on June 23, 2023!

Title card for The Day I Left.

Winner: The Day I Left 
University: New York University

Description: A touching visual novel with a simplified art style and without any text. No spoilers -- you'll want to just experience this one for yourself. 

Play it for free on Itch.

Screenshot from No Small Matter.

Winner: No Small Matter 
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: Explore the house of a modern wizard! Use your powers to reach every secret chamber, attracting objects together and even stopping them in time. Find the hidden fragments in this strange house or collect them by solving the wizard's puzzles.

Download now on Itch!

Screenshot of combat from Mirare.

Winner: Mirare: The Shattered Self 
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: Play as Celia in this HD-2.5D adventure and travel across a wondrously dangerous land in search of a way back to reality from a world that reflects fiction. Strategically fight through battles, solve puzzles, and discover the meaning of the power that you’ve been given. What lies beyond the mirror’s mirage?

Available now on Itch!

Screenshot from Astral Chart.

Winner: Astral Chart 
University: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Description: In Astral Chart, you'll play as a lone mercenary exploring the vast reaches of empires across multiple solar systems. Left with the responsibility of the Unstoppable Force, a small-but-agile spaceship, you'll pursue dangerous bounties and build an arsenal of weapons capable of taking down foes of all sizes.

Check out the game's website and download it for free from Itch!

Screenshot of a forest and capybara from

University: New York University

Description: is a browser-based, 2000s-netart take on Myst, created as a way to experiment with non-hierarchical and playful processes. Players explore a park by clicking still images and moving between locations. You can talk to the various denizens of the forest, interact with pieces of tech-trash that litter the trails, drag a lot of popups around the screen, go on a guided meditation, help two cows in a painting realize their love for one another, and snoop through the development blogs of the design team.

Play in browser at

Menu in Boiling Over.

Winner: Boiling Over  
University: Rochester Institute of Technology

Description: In Boiling Over, you play as Hazel, a part-time college student saving up for a study-abroad program by working as a barista! As a barista, it's your job to craft delicious beverages for all of the lovely customers who walk into the store. However, some customers are anything but lovely. Some are jerks. How will you deal with your already-strenuous coffee-making job?  

Available for free on Itch! 

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