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Interview: Kelly Wallick on Stepping Down as IGF Chair

Kelly Wallick stepped behind the podium for an unforgettable night hosting the Independent Games Festival Awards at GDC 2022—and announced she was stepping down as IGF Chairperson. 

Kelly has worked in the tech and video game industry for over a decade. She’s the founder of the Indie MEGABOOTH, Chair of the Independent Games Festival, and a Partner at the 1Up Fund. In addition, she is proud to serve on the GLAAD Media Award Advisory Board. She’s a passionate believer in the strength and impact of community and implementing long term change to support creative, unique, and diverse voices.

GDC talked with Kelly previously about her excitement about hosting the IGF Awards (you can watch the ceremony here). In this follow-up, Kelly shares her favorite memories as IGF Chair, why she's excited for the future of IGF, and what's next. 

Below is an edited, condensed version of our interview: 

GDC: While we were so excited that you hosted the awards, the news was also bittersweet because it was your last IGF as Chairperson. What went into the decision to step down? 

Kelly Wallick: This is actually something I was trying to do for a few years, but once the pandemic happened it didn't feel like it was the appropriate time.

I didn't want to hand it off in this chaotic, messy way to someone who was going to inherit a lot of new situations and a difficult transition period. Also, I think it kind of felt sad for me to leave that without physically being able to say goodbye to people. I was wanting to make sure it could keep going through this tough time, so it could get back to a place where it felt a little bit more normal and I could say a proper goodbye and get it handed off to somebody in a way that they were more set up to succeed. 

Aside from that, there were things I really wanted to accomplish with this role and I do feel I got to accomplish them. When I got asked to take on the role, it was at a time when it was earlier on in my career and it was something that was important and valuable for me, and I feel like it was a really good stepping stone. I want to create and open that opportunity for somebody new. To let the next generation of folks who are really passionate about the game industry, the indie scene, and the community to step in and bring their ideas and their new stuff and their energy into it. 

It felt like a good time to close the chapter on this work I've been doing that I'm incredibly proud of.

GDC: What did you personally love—beyond the accomplishments that you achieved—about being involved in IGF and the indie game community during your tenure? 

Kelly: The indie game community is such a huge thing [laughs], so I'll focus on the IGF part of it. 

I think the thing that's really fascinating to me, and something I've really enjoyed, is I love being a witness to the conversations that folks in the indie community are having about games, about games that are being made, and the future of games. I got to hear and see that conversation every year for the past few years, which is some really wonderful insight. These in-depth, interesting conversations around things like: What makes an indie game? What is the size of a team that is an indie game? We get asked that a lot, even just as the IGF. I think having those conversations, facilitating them, and being witness to them is something that I cherish a lot.

And I really appreciate all the people that have taken time, effort and energy into playing the games and being on the jury and answering my millions of emails! It's a really big community-driven effort, and there's hundreds of people that are involved in it. So getting to witness that every year, and sometimes twice a year [laughs], was really amazing. 

GDC: What's next for you?

Kelly: I will have some announcements coming up, so nothing public yet. You'l just have to keep an eye out for what's next! I've been in a bit of a hibernation mode, but that's going to change pretty soon. 

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