The Pavs: NZ Game Awards is a night to celebrate the exceptional games created by New Zealanders. It's about highlighting the amazing experiences people are creating in our community. To this end, the NZGF committee supports transparency in how the awards work and we want to take this opportunity to share it with you.

the judging process for the game awards

While The Pavs are organised by NZGF, the judges are independent volunteers. These volunteers have graciously given large amounts of their time to review the submissions.

The Judges are invited from our community both in New Zealand and in Australia. The Judging Manager from the NZGF committee reviews past judges and brings in new judges, and selects applicants from those who are interested in becoming a judge. Past judges have been invited back and invited to suggest others. New judges are invited because of their unique perspective or work they have done for the community.

The number of these judges ranges each year and is dependent on the number of award submissions. Our list of judges for 2021 will go live in 2021 before April.

Once game submissions are completed, these Judges receive a list of games to vote on. This list is first reviewed by the Judging Manager to resolve any conflicts of interest. Before Judges can vote on a game they must also certify that they are not aware of any conflicts of interest. If any conflicts exist then they are not allowed to vote on the game and a new submission is supplied to them to review in its place.

Over the judging period, the Judges take time to carefully review each submission. By the end of the voting period, they will cast their votes, and finalists are determined from the vote totals. 

The Judging Manager invites additional standup developers to become a special Jury to select the winners from the finalists. These members of the Jury are not affiliated with any of the finalists of their judging categories. This Jury is split into pools, each pool reviews the finalists for a category and votes to determine the winner for that category’s award.

If a Juror has conflict of interest they are not allowed to vote on any of the games in that category.

These votes are collected and totalled by the Judging Manager and sent on to the Event Manager so they can be celebrated at The Pavs awards night!

game awards schedule

October 2nd 2020: Submissions open 

November 29th 2020: Submissions close 

March 2021: Finalists notified

April 2021: Winners will be announced at The Pavs awards night

May 2021: Feedback from Judges/Jury sent out

game award category definitions

The awards are to recognize the amazing work within NZ’s game developer community. Achieving excellence with concept, execution, innovation, and creativity are all aspects worthy of that recognition. Below are the definitions that games are judged by.

The Guest Plate

The Finalist is chosen based on the overall quality of each entered game.

Eligibility requirements: Only available to Australian made games. Excludes any games that are eligible for the other Pav Awards.

The Student’s Slice
The Finalist is chosen based on concept, execution, and creativity of each entered game by a solo or student group.

Eligibility requirement: Game must be created by student(s) who were enrolled at a secondary or tertiary institution during the majority of development

The Tactile Taste: Excellence in Physical Games
The Finalist is chosen based on uniqueness, concept, and execution of any physical game.

Eligibility requirement: Game is a physical game. For example: board, card, tabletop, or RP games are eligible.

The Decorative Piece: Excellence in Visual Art

The Finalist is chosen based on the quality and impressiveness of each entered game’s appearance and visual effects. 

The Composed Segment: Excellence in Audio

The Finalist is chosen based on the quality and impressiveness of each entered game’s music and sound effects.

The Diverse Delight: Excellence in Representation

The Finalist is chosen based on the representation accurately shown within the game; characters, narrative, and within the development team. This award celebrates games which show the wonderful diverse world in which we live. This award is subject to additional Judging/Jurying.

The Perfect Recipe: Excellence in Design
The Finalist is chosen based on the quality and execution of each entered game’s design, including game mechanic design, level design, and difficulty balancing.

The Poetic Serving: Excellence in Narrative
The Finalist is chosen based on quality and impressiveness of storytelling in a game – including, but not limited to, scenario, plot construction, story, dialogue, and other major factors.

The ‘Slice of Heaven’ Grand Prize

The Finalist is chosen based on overall excellence in concept, execution, innovation, creativity, and enjoyability.

Tactile Taste, Decorative Piece, Composed Segment, Diverse Delight, Perfect Recipe, Poetic Serving, and Slice of Heaven eligibility requirement: A person who identifies as a New Zealander has contributed significantly to your submission.

the judging process for the community awards

Coming soon…

sponsorship in relation to the pavs

NZGF receives no sponsorship or donations for the awards judging process. We ensure the judging process remains independent by:

  • Having the judging managed by one committee member, and awards night co-ordinated by another.
  • Requiring any judges with ties to a sponsor to abstain from voting on any of that organisation’s submissions.
  • Excluding sponsors from participating in the final Jury.

2021 judges and jury

Coming in 2021…

Questions? Please contact

We hope that knowing more about the process will help everyone appreciate just how much each of our award winners has earned their spot on the stage. So follow @nzgamesfest on twitter, plan your Awards outfit, and be ready to enjoy a night of celebration of our wonderful community!