Just a viewpoint that might be interesting to ponder: Why is it that any activity that’s genuinely enjoyed by a reasonably sized group of people must be reduced to the rather juvenile sphere of “competition”?
In the case of the IF community, it only seems to be counter-progressive, considering that the limited amount of judges ostensibly can’t – or don’t want to – explore through any text adventure that takes more than a specified, small amount of time to complete (especially considering the amount of submissions).
Perhaps they should refrain from the undertaking, then? I would only say such a thing because this seems a self-defeating limitation. If it’s taken for granted that competition pushes the writer to enhance all of his skills, then shouldn’t this hypothetical writer be encouraged to expand, making his work less linear and more unorthodox (and hence, more time-consuming, as any truly fresh approach takes longer to assimilate) – rather than being encouraged to explore the different ways in which a minimalist idea can be dressed up stylistically or rhetorically?
I might be missing something, of course; maybe they’ve tried to add judges, but nobody wants to spend so much time playing others’ games and rating them within finite critera. I can understand that.
I submit that competing for some kind of prize threatens the visceral enjoyment of pulling fiction out of one’s imagination purely for his own pleasure; and that considering the submissions’ enforced limitations, it truly keeps the craft from expanding much. It seems to practically encourage the writer’s adherence to quickly completed challenges or easily navigated stories (read: predictability), even notwithstanding the more obvious, if equally significant, limitations on sheer world size.
I guess I simply don’t understand why it’s not natural for people to enjoy sharing their creative endeavors with one another, and just be glad that there are others of like interest with whom to have fun with their chosen fixations, even when those fixations are decidedly (and, I might add, gloriously) “unfashionable.”
Lest this be interpreted wrongly, I’ve never entered an IF competition, and don’t intend to; my games are too long, to begin with. Half the fun for me is the exploration facet. In fact, what I truly enjoy is the process itself, rather than the completion; I do this purely for my own enjoyment. Other writers’ acceptance of, or rejection of, competitions doesn’t exactly matter to me. And much of this paragraph is based on personal taste, of course. But I can’t help but find myself rather curious as to what other IF writers might think about this. It’s just a fun thing to talk about, you might say.
I suppose it goes without saying that anyone who displays arrogance, or a general feeling of superiority, about writing such a thing as interactive fiction – still a niche hobby, as far as the computing world is concerned (granted, we shouldn’t be concerned with this) – is quite off the mark, and presumably harbors other purposes, conscious or not, than the enjoyment of word-craft and genuine imaginative undertakings. Any such incarnate example of “contributing nothing productive to any self-styled community” figures quite outside my devil’s advocate-like challenge of “writing games for one’s own pleasure” (the whole point) vs. “writing games to gain others’ approval” (external and quite besides the point).
This is not intended to shortchange anyone’s efforts, subvert any writer’s pride in winning a past competition, or exhibit antagonism in any sense. Diverse opinions are healthy things to consider (and collectively help to prevent stagnation in any creative field), and like the man said, without deviation, progress is not possible.
This is merely provided as food for thought from someone who’s loved playing and writing text adventures for a quarter-century – hopeful fodder for grown-up discussion, if any replies at all are forthcoming in these relatively sparse forums. Thanks for taking it in the intended spirit.