I really enjoy reviewing interactive fiction. One thing that drew me to this area is that there is enough IF that you can pretty much always find more, but few enough that you can really get a broad feel for the scope of things.
In the last few years, the amount of IF produced per year has really taken off; simultaneously, I’ve discovered other communities of IF that have existed for a long time.
In parallel to this process, there has been a growing number of people who have decided not to archive games in publicly available free archives, instead using itch to monetize or to retain control over analytics. I definitely support author freedom, but I believe that as a cultural shift this overall a big negative.
So, my current plan to strike a balance between these two is that I will no longer go out of my way to review games that are not in an publicly accessible, long-term archive such as the IF-Archive. This includes itch-hosted competitions and IFComp or Spring Thing games that are only accessible online or self-hosted by the author. I might still review them, but I won’t feel obligated to the way I do about other games. This will also help from getting overwhelmed by the huge amount of games out there, many of which have not invited criticism.
In my point of view, reviews serve as a long term way to help future players see others’ perspectives on games. Without future players, there is not really any need for this type of reviews. I believe that reviews can also serve to hone author’s craft, but that is not the main reason I review games.
If any author particularly wants a review for a self-hosted or otherwise unarchived game, I’d be happy to write on request. This is just more of an overall thing. And I think it will make more people happy, as many itch-only people have recently requested that people do not review or archive their games.
Speaking of which, I need to submit the Spring Thing archive to the IF Archive! It’s been 6 months and I still haven’t done it, so I’ll get on that!
Summary for those who don’t want a wall of text: I’m only going to review free-access archived games unless an author requests a review or I feel like it.