Let me see if I can express this from another angle, without using the words fair and unfair.
IFComp is a popularity contest. The biggest crowdpleaser wins, by definition, since the crowd votes on what they like. A popularity contest measures the zeitgeist, at least within the community, and the zeitgeist (again by definition) changes with time.
IFComp has always been a popularity contest, and judges have always been free to judge by any criterion (the 1-10 scale was introduced in 1996). Complaints along the lines of “the IFComp ain’t what it used to be” are on shaky ground. Sure, the rules have changed every now and then, but the central tenet has remained the same, namely that the result should be based on people’s personal preference.
Rather, it’s people’s personal preference that ain’t what it used to be. What was popular twenty years ago is different from what is popular now. A majority within the community enjoys creating choice-based games, and a majority likes to play them. And IFComp simply reflects that. If we change IFComp to something else, by restricting it to a mode of interaction that was popular twenty years ago, it will cease to reflect the popular opinion of the community. In my humble opinion, that would go against its original spirit.
Now. It seems that fewer parser games are released every year, and this is a cause for concern. It saddens me quite a lot, actually. But I don’t think the answer is to bury our heads in the sand by banning other forms of expression from the comp. I think the answer is to: Write more parser games. Encourage people who write more parser games. Promote parser games to a wider audience. Advance the art of parser game programming (which I hope to do in a few days). Innovate, rejuvenate, win back the crowd, steal the spotlight, and leave a black and white feather in its place.