Data gathering from running the IFComp gauntlet in '21 and '22

Since @Juuves brought up the subject of pacing oneself for reviews here, I thought I’d reflect on my two trips through all the IFComp games. This isn’t to say “look at everything I reviewed” or to make people feel they should plan to review everything. It’s data gathering to see what various ups and downs occurred. There are some pretty obvious trends from each graph.

Even reviewing half the entries in a comp is an awesome effort. Heck, even more than ten. And for those who specifically target entries where they really have something to say, it shows. So, go at your own pace, but this is more just to say “Hey, I’d like to keep my own pace and not fall off.”

As I may only review half the 2023 IFComp games I think it’s also okay to keep a quiet list of entries you are not going to review. At least not on your first go round. I say this as someone whose entries may be tricky for others and may be on such a list. You owe the authors no excuses and in fact an excuse or good reason may feel like a blow-off.

Some of my own data confused me. I thought I took until the last day to complete reviews for IFComp 2021, but if I got done early (Nov 13 vs 15,) yay me. Memory plays tricks on you, I guess! Also, even though I burned the candle on both ends to review everything in 2022 before the voting deadline, there were no last-minute rushes to play the entries.

I also don’t have a problem with reviewing after voting has closed. In fact, just the opposite! I’d prioritize voting, for IFComp voters, over that last review–if we review something on November 16-18, that’s something to read while we wait for the results.

Here are two spreadsheets, largely identical except for by-year data. I’ve also included comments which I hope are in no way defamatory of any games. I think I pinged a couple for being tricky to deal with near the deadline (e.g. lack of walkthroughs and timed text.) This is more a question of how much to cater to particular judges. I also note that some entries I reviewed very favorably took me a while.

The delayed start in 2021 is, IIRC, not a bunch of activity at once but probably starting on 10/5 or so and waiting to make that first jump, as I hadn’t reviewed in a long time. In 2022 it was easier to jump in. So this is encouragement for new review writers who may be delaying a bit–you can get a good chunk done even as you organize your ideas, etc.

Most of my comments in the docs relate to how two entries may’ve linked up, or why I put one entry off even if I should not have, or what breaks I remember taking.

My lack of comments on an entry does not indicate approval or disapproval. I only commented if I remembered particular hangups or if it helped motivate me to get to the next one, or why I delayed.

I think the key thing if you set a goal of X reviews is to take a brief look through all the games and decide which ones may be potential blockers. Then, every so often, pick one at random to forge through, or even just flip through them until you say “this one won’t annoy me today.” Don’t leave them all until the end. Oh, and don’t feel guilty starting about ones that will be relatively easy for you to write.

The TLDR of the graphs is: often a good quick start and a bit of a mad rush at the end, and it’s okay and probably expected to hit the doldrums–things will pick up! In that way it’s a lot like KickStarters but maybe with less dramatic inflections.

I hope people find these useful in some way!