GameStop, SMU, AIAS Announce Indie Game ChallengeS

GameStop is teaming up with The Guildhall game development graduate program at Southern Methodist University and the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences to create the Indie Game Challenge.

The contest invites both professional and non-professional game developers to submit betas and pitches, which will be judged by officials from the AIAS. The Challenge is open to submissions from July 14 through October 1, 2009. Twelve finalists chosen by the AIAS will have their games shown at the AIAS's annual Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain (D.I.C.E.) Summit. The grand prize winner in both the professional and non-professional categories will receive $100,000. In total, contest winners could win up to $300,000 in prize money and scholarships.

But indie games aren't about the money, right? The real reason anyone would want to get in on this contest is to get the attention of big name game publishers like Sony, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Capcom, Microsoft, NAMCO/Bandai, THQ and Ubisoft. According to the Challenge press release, winners will score meetings with these companies so that "competitors [can] receive valuable input and have the opportunity to open up commercial avenues for their games."

Or, you know, you could just enter the Challenge if you need something to put on your application to SMU's Guildhall. It's one of the largest graduate-level game development programs in the country — and with the economy the way it is, now is a good time to go back to school.

Check out the contest site here.