Do you enjoy short IF games?

How do you feel about short games? I’m curious how IF players feel about experiences under 15 minutes in length.

Do you align with any of these preferences below?

  • They’re the best! – You prefer short IF games to longer ones and play them regularly.
  • They’re a welcome distraction. – Between longer games, you’ll play a short one that sounds interesting as a palette cleanser.
  • They’re all the same to me. – The length of an IF game makes no difference to you whatsoever in terms of whether you’ll play or enjoy it.
  • They’re a weird curiosity. – Every once in a while you might try one, but “short” is not what you expect from the genre.
  • They’re a waste of time. – You come to IF specifically for longer, immersive experiences, so why bother with short games?

Or do you feel a different sort of way?


I prefer short games, and often play them over on They’re a lot easier to convince other friends to check out and try to breadcrumb them along to a longer game that’s more of a time investment. In competitions, I usually try playing shorter games first, also.


Yes, I prefer them, in fact!

even though my own game isn’t what I’d call short


I have no fixed preference. Sometimes I want to read a novel and sometimes a short story.

I think short games are great for experimenting with weird and wonderful ideas, much like a short story can.


I enjoy them when they’re good. :wink: But more seriously, it’s a bit as it with books? I’m often in the mood for a shorter books, and enjoy them; but if I were to make a list of the best books I’ve read in my life, there will be mostly doorstoppers on it. I’m also often in the mood for shorter interactive fiction works, but the IF that I’ve loved the most are mainly longer works.


It depends on my mood/what time I have/how much I want to invest in a game. But I do tend to play shorter games in general (2h or less).

It’s kind of the same with books, I will devour books (over a few days, because time), but I will sometimes go through binge of short stories. It’s just a different way of sharing a story. They sometimes pack a bit more of a punch than longer ones.


I like both short and long games. I’m more likely to play a shorter game (because I’m more likely to have a short amount of time in which I can play a game), though my absolute favorite games tend to be long.


They are not my preference. I like things I can sink my teeth into. But I’m like this with everything. I don’t often read short stories; I want big fat novels with 8 sequels. I don’t want a bite of your chocolate cake; I want my own piece. But I do play and enjoy them sometimes, although mostly only when I’m going through a Comp. I reviewed all the big games for Spring Thing but barely played/reviewed any of the short ones.


15 minutes is very short. I don’t know if that was an arbitrary amount of time, but I would say that’s not enough to get engaged in any meaningful way to an actual story-based IF. I prefer short games, most of the time. 30min - 60min would be short for me. Most of that time might be thinking through a puzzle though.

Someone suggested Elsewhere to me though and I quite enjoyed it, but it’s not a game I would ever come back to. The moment was too fleeting to make me want to play it again.

It really depends on the IF. Some are more straight forward stories with very little interaction, some are poetry, some are puzzle/adventures, and some are simulation type games. I quite like Seedship and each run is approximately 10 minutes.


I prefer longer pieces, so I probably align most with “They’re a weird curiosity” although I wouldn’t put it quite that way.

I would say a sub-15 minute game is more on the order of flash fiction unless it has a good replay mechanic that invites the player to spend more than 15 minutes on it to build up a deeper understanding of the content (plot/character/etc) through different choices.

A game that takes 30-90 minutes to experience is like a short story - it usually has enough depth to support the shape of a plot or meaningful mechanics.

Around 1.5-2 hours is the sweet spot for me, like a short novel length, and not coincidentally is also the limit for IFComp games. I generally enjoy games more (and score them higher in comps) if they engage me for this length of time.

More than 2 hours is rare for IF, but the ones that engage me this long are nearly always well-crafted and memorable. Some examples: Trigaea, Hadean Lands, Worldsmith’s prologue (forgot what it’s called, but I haven’t even played the main game yet after how long I spent on just the prologue!), The Impossible Bottle, Violet, etc.

I mean, surely there’s a reason why the IFComp winners are nearly always estimated to take at least an hour to play, and more often have enough content for two. That doesn’t mean that all longer games are automatically better, but it’s an indication of how it’s hard to make a meaningful and thoroughly polished piece without enough content to encourage players to engage with it for a significant amount of time.


Duly noted… and what do you take in your coffee? :wink:

1 Like

If you’re asking if I have enough time to rate all the long games in the Comp, the answer is no, there are too many these days for me to play all the games in the IFComp anymore. I usually try to play as many as I can, though, time allowing.

One of my favorite games ever is Trenchline. It’s rather short, but it’s very effective. However, sometimes I also like a game that I can play for weeks.

The main point, though, is that the game understands its own length, and handles it well.


Why not make a poll?



I was just making a joke about you being a judge for competitions and sucking up. Need me to pick up your dry cleaning? :wink:

Took the words right out of my mouth.


I want to let you all know this is great feedback and I really appreciate it. I’m getting a good sense for how the community feels about short IF.

@SomeOne2 @HAL9000 - That’s an excellent idea! I’ll put a poll together soon and share the results.


I like games that take as long as it needs to explore its ideas and themes.

They could be extremely short (nine months out) because it has one really good idea or they may need to be very long because it’s an actual journey (Blue Lacuna).

But there are games that don’t always stick the landing, so they will feel either underbaked or overcooked respectively. It’s frustrating whenever that happens, but it doesn’t have any impact on my preferences.

I do think I am likelier to play short titles, but I got into IF from playing long parser titles. The longer ones tend to stick with me because they cover so much ground. But there are short titles that resonate as much as (or even more than) long titles. I am less impressed by extreme lengths and more from the writer understanding how far/short they need to go with their games and committing to it.


Definitely prefer them


I do not have much interest in short games…


I’m a lot more likely to try a short game than a long one, not knowing anything else about it. I wouldn’t jump into something the length of that Jigsaw LP without a good understanding of what the game was and what I was getting into.