IF Comp: Can you be both author and beta tester?

I know there is a rule against voting on a game you’ve beta tested, but is there any rules against
beta testing other comp games if you are entering one of your own?

I’ve not seen any rules against it, but maybe I’ve missed something.

I can think of several arguments against testing other games if you’re an author, for instance:

  • Unfair look at the competition, potential of stealing ideas, or potential for being unfairly accused of stealing ideas if you have similar ideas by chance…
  • If you have time to spare before comp deadline you should probably be spending it on making YOUR game better, not helping others
  • …and conversely you may not be committed to do your best at testing if you try to get your own game ready at the same time…

…etc.

All good points why not to do it I guess, but is there an actual rule against it?
(In fact before I posted this, I had half thought I would beta test some other game (and I am entering one of my own), but I kind of convinced myself not to do it, by coming up with these points…)

/S

The development timeline for IF games is long enough that I doubt you could integrate any “stolen” ideas in a competitive way over the next four weeks.

Your other two points are good ones, but if you disclose the conflict to the author and you are OK with the lost development time on your side, I don’t see a problem.

That’s true. And besides, the IF community doesn’t strike me as one were stealing ideas would be very common either…

I’ve tested a few games now, and in my experience the length of time required to test a game – or even go through one single “round” of testing – varies greatly. For some smaller competition entries, it may not be an unreasonably huge time commitment to rigorously play the game and offer a transcript, maybe even more than once.

Anyways, I already did a little testing on a game that I believe is going to be entered into the comp. I’ve also been hoping to finish my own game in time to enter, although I feel the chances that I will succeed are relatively small. I’m thinking about offering to test a game again, if I can figure out how to make it fit in with my responsibilities. So, I obviously hope there is no rule against testing an entry and submitting one in the same competition.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with testing a game and entering a game in the competition yourself. Testing a game also doesn’t need to be a huge time commitment: you can often help out an author by playing through her/his game once, and that may take you no more than an hour. (Of course, as an author you are always happy with people willing to go beyond this, but that doesn’t mean that testers going through the game once are useless.)

From what I’ve seen, the competition isn’t all that competitive: people rarely think of it in terms of winning or losing. It’s more a big community event in which everyone is happy if there are a lot of good games. (Of course winning is fun, but I don’t think anyone has ever thought: “If only those other three guys hadn’t entered a game, I would have won. Damn them.”) Testing other people’s games fits well with that spirit of cooperation.

I see now that my second point can be read a little like “I’m not helping the others! They might beat me if I do!”, but I didn’t mean it quite like that. More that if you split your attention you won’t do as good a job as either author or tester as you could do if you focus on one thing.

But as has been pointed out, it doesn’t have to be that way either.

I agree that it’s great with a competition that isn’t all that competitive.

Also note that it’s not generally the case that someone has a limited number of slots for testers, where if you don’t do quite as good a job, they are somehow hurt by it. It can be hard enough to get any feedback at all on a game; getting someone to spend 10 minutes on your game and give you some feedback is still more useful than getting zero feedback from the people who don’t spend any time testing.

-Kevin

Just another vote for “no, that’s fine”. I’ve swapped testing with my competitors a few times in past comps, and it’s always been a happy experience.