I’ve recently found my way to the world of IF through Twine games, and now I’m embarking on writing my own game in TADS 3. I know that IF goes way back, apparently even to the early usenet days, and I’ve been imagining making hypertext fiction since I was a kid on the web. Even so, the IF world seems pretty small and niche, but also very dedicated. Does anyone have a ballpark of how many people are into IF and how active the community tends to be?
If you came in through Twine, you’ve probably already sensed that the “IF community” is several communities with various degrees of overlap and contact.
But then, it’s hard to measure the size of any of them.
The annual IFComp pulls in… well the data is currently not posted, but about 100 voters each year, I think. Then you see an event like the recent ShuffleComp, which got almost fifty people planning to enter (some didn’t get as far as completed entries). How many lurkers does that imply? Hard to say.
As a fan of questionable statistics, this is one of my favorite questions. I think there’s a lot of folks who have played parser IF at one time or another, but the core group (people who visit IFDB and this forum semi-regularly) is much smaller. Total seat of the pants, maybe 1-5% of the total? IFDB has over 5000 members, and this forum has over 2000 (though some of those are spam accounts probably). I’d guess about a couple hundred are active at any one time.
As a point of comparison, the TIGSource forums (a popular indie game forum) has about 30,000 members. The xda-developers forum (a very popular Android OS forum) has over five million.
IMO, the best statistic to use for a forum is a count of daily/monthly active users (DAU and MAU). (Note that DAU is not just MAU divided by 30; if only the same 100 people login every day for a month, then DAU=MAU=100.)
Google Analytics will provide that number, and some forum packages will provide it as well.
34000 separate visitors? Wow, that’s more than I’d have thought for all these sites put together. And with Ben’s estimate of 50000 above (I doubt the number has gone down since 2010 - if he was right, there are probably more people than that now), there are a lot of people involved in this.
To be clear, I was referring to just the forums earlier, which I think is a better measure of “community” users.
303,804 unique users visited choiceofgames.com in June, according to GA, but we had a big spike in mid June when we launched on Steam. In May we only had 90,471 visitors. But you should be suspicious of these numbers, because the majority of those users left the site after visiting only one page (they “bounced” in Google’s parlance).
My impression is that “the IF community” encompasses (mostly) people who primarily play and write parser IF and/or who enter games in IFComp, and that there’s a sizable chunk of people who both play and write what it would be generally agreed is interactive fiction but for whom neither of those things is true. If they have communities of their own, they seem to revolve around particular development tools. It also seems that choice-based games, particularly Twine games, seem to be on the radar of the general indie games community more than parser-based IF, meaning people who play and write those may not think of themselves as part of something distinct from “indie games”.
Those are just general impressions though, I could be way off base.