...tion? [split from previous thread]

I replied earlier and went off on a tangent. Sorry about that. This is the reply which agrees that success in one competition ought not to disqualify from success in another.

I’m also mystified by the concept of prize money. I created this thing for a reason. That reason is my own.

In the best case (I win a prize) I have to sublimate all the thrills I get from hearing the news and instead negotiate via convoluted pathways a restitution to me of some very modest quantity of Government Work Tokens.

No disrespect to those who put up the prizes, but do you really think that is what motivates an IF author?

Do you really think that no IF authors appreciate it? Just because it doesn’t matter to you doesn’t mean it’s not valuable to others. If you don’t want it, turn it down. All the competitions offer that option, I believe, and most of them make it easy…


Maybe I didn’t express myself very well. Let me try to clarify :slightly_smiling_face:.

I believe the IF community is willing with their time. Perhaps not endowed with great wealth.
Those who enjoy playing/reading IF will seek out pieces to play no matter how hard they are to find.

But the competition system grants success exactly once.
So at that point, willing readers are removed from a winning project. Those readers to be replaced by a couple hundred dollars, which no one can really afford. And (maybe here you will disagree) which was not at all the point of the project.

I understand “do it for the art” and it’s rare to make more than some pocket money writing IF, but what I specifically did was held anything I won in IFComp in a specific PayPal account. That was reserved to pay for other people’s IF games and projects I wanted to play and support, and I have also used it to commission artwork for my games and donate to support the provider of the free Creative Commons music I use.


That is the right instinct I think.

But this conversation needs to acknowledge the current situation of Dollar Weakness.
The act of creating Interactive Fiction in 2023 is the genesis of a social currency.

There aren’t many people who can do it. Should there be prize money in exchange for exclusivity, what ought the prize money to be?

I guess I don’t really understand this? Unlike in-person events like film festivals, where a festival in France will bring together a different set of journalists from one in Colorado, and have different judges rewarding different approaches to movie-making – so entering the same movie multiple times will expose it to a broader audience and potentially get more prizes/official recognition – the various IF events pretty much speak to the same audience (and an audience of players, not journalists and other game professionals) and are judged by that self-same audience.

It’s true that Spring Thing is generally slightly lower-profile than IF Comp, so I guess if someone wrote a game that did well in the former, they might want to capitalize on their success by entering it into the latter? But I feel like Spring Thing – and ParserComp and the various other smaller events – have their own distinct vibe, which being treated as the IF Comp bush league would undermine.

And on the flip side, as both an author and reviewer I’d find this approach exhausting; as a reviewer, I’d probably just review the first, presumably least-refined version and then maaaaybe do a short blurb if I could be bothered to quickly replay the update; as an author, I think it’s a really helpful discipline to have a deadline and an expectation that after some post-competition bug fixes a game is done and it’s on to the next thing (I know there’s a different culture of forever-updating early access/WIP games in other parts of the IF world, but that kind of thing’s always going to be an awkward fit with an event-centric schedule).

Anyway I don’t see what any of that has to do with prizes, monetary or otherwise – Spring Thing used to have monetary prizes but now doesn’t, and I don’t think that’s had much impact on what’s entered or how the audience perceives the games?

EDIT: I 100% agree with the idea that we’re pretty much all doing this for recognition and, to a degree, social currency, though – I’ve twice done pretty well in IFComp, and was able to use the money to take my wife out for a nice dinner as a thank-you for testing, encouragement, and putting up with me being glued to the computer while getting the games done. That was lovely, but hardly a motivating factor one way or the other!


OK. I will take your word for that.

So I deduce that monetary prizes are not actually a material component to IF competitions then.


No, I definitely don’t think so. My sense is that beyond being a nice optional benefit for authors, though, the Comp prize fund also helps IFTF defray the cost of running it, which is another positive thing about that approach. But my basic question is what having or not having monetary prizes has to do with any of these broader conversations about reach, audience, release models, etc., given that nobody seems to think they’re a big deal one way or the other?


So we are agreed. Next time there’s a new IF competition, prize money need not be a component.
And as a happy side effect, no contractual obligation on an author which prevents their ability to continue to develop and promote the work.

I’m afraid I’m not really with you - receiving prize money in IF Comp (of the only other IF competition that bestows prize money that I’m aware of, which is the current TALP jam) doesn’t confer a contractual obligation to not develop or promote the work…does it? I mean, I haven’t actually read the rules of IF Comp right through, but I sort of thought that it was just cash disbursed without any further obligations implied…


Most comps with the “no previously released games” rule don’t even have cash prizes. You’re seeing a connection where there is none. And you can do whatever you want with your game after submitting it to a comp, except submit it to a different comp that has a “no previously released games” rule.


Maybe the connection you think I’m seeing is none.

Sorry to be dense, but this still seems very backwards to me – like, to me the question the discussion seems to be moving towards is whether there are different goals related to promoting the creation and playing of particular kinds of IF that should be adopted either for new or existing events. Like, IF Comp had a clear set of initial goals, as Hanon mentioned above; the organizers wanted to encourage more people to write new short pieces of IF, so they created an event whose rules are designed to do exactly that. The “short” piece doesn’t need much policing now, probably, since that’s the default length these days, but the requirement that games be previously unreleased is essential to the getting people to write new pieces part of the mission statement.

So l guess I’m wondering primarily if folks think trying to encourage more serially-updated IF is a good idea; then if so, what kinds of events, structures, norms etc. might make that work well; and then I guess the question of whether or not to try to mimic IF Comp’s monetary prize structure might come up, but like I said, it seems hard to engage with that before getting into those other questions (I frankly am also not sure that other events or newer events could successfully fund-raise for a monetary prize pool even if they wanted to, FWIW).

(I wonder whether some of this conversation should be split off from this thread? It’s an interesting discussion, but I fear we’ve gotten somewhat afield from the more practical advice @TomTAP was seeking!)

EDIT: tagging in @HanonO to make the above paragraph more useful than simple idle musing.


No – you’re right, there’s no forward-looking contract, just the organizers conditioning access to the Comp and its benefits (expose, voting, prizes) on certain eligibility requirements, including the “no previously released games” one. This is a contract, but not one that ties a participant’s hands. Like, an entrant might prefer it if they could release their game elsewhere and then enter into IF Comp – too bad for them! But it’s not right to say that they have a contractual obligation not to enter the game elsewhere before IF Comp; there’s no agreement until they actually submit it to IF Comp.


Were you not saying that the existence of the “no previously released games” rule was the direct result of comps offering prize money? That seemed like the most logical interpretation of your post.

Also, I wonder if perhaps we should split this discussion off into another thread, since it really doesn’t have much to do with the original poster’s question anymore.


No, I did not say that. If I had, you would have quoted me, just as I have quoted you above.

To me these sentences clearly suggest that you’re making a connection between cash prizes and competitions allowing only new work here.

My point about the money was only that I’ve had conversations with a couple different people where I assumed that the IFComp prize money was negligible, and they said “I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay the rent that month and doing well in IFComp was kind of a big deal for me.” I don’t think it’s the reason that anyone enters the comp, but we shouldn’t treat it as a harmful anachronism either.


Let me help you out here. I am making no such connection and if I had, you would be able to cut and paste it in a quote for everyone to see.

I mean, can you try tell us again what the point is you’re trying to make with respect to the monetary prizes? I think a couple of us are struggling to get it.


OK, well respectfully I’d suggest you get together with the other party and see if you can’t both figure it out.
I’m off to bed now.