Outlier votes

My votes were very weird this year. I didn’t play a lot of games, but I only voted on a few games I really liked and gave high scores. So I’m kind of the opposite of a grudge hate-voter.

The way the voting works makes it so voting a 1 is worse for a game than getting no vote at all since the average based on number of votes for that game instead of a global count of all votes. That’s kind of the way it has to be since not everyone plays every game and entries aren’t not technically pitted directly against each other - they get an individual score and then are ranked based on their average vote. A game that gets only ten votes that are all 9s will rank above a game that gets 100 votes where ten of them are 9s but the rest are spread across the spectrum. IFComp rewards vote quality over quantity.

A lot of voters reserve a 1 for a game that is literally unplayable - hopefully not just due to technical issues (that should be a no-vote) - but like insults your mother and crashes your hard drive and sets your computer on fire. But some in the past have seized upon the one as a “penalty” vote. I’ve only experienced bad-faith once - when I submitted Final Girl which was hosted on Storynexus and required the player to create an simple account to play it. Someone posted “I will not create an account to play your stupid game, automatic 1 for you!” - which is obvious bad faith because they’re scoring the game without playing.

The only way they can kind of weed bad faith voting out is to look at accounts that have given a large number of 1s and see if they’re doing something like rating all choice games a 1 vs their other votes, or just rating every game a 1 and giving no higher votes. In that case they’re just trying to ruin an author’s score like someone who obviously goes through IFDB and gives a specific author’s games all 1-star to tank the average - another thing that’s happened in the past. It’s a rare case that someone would actually play every game in someone’s catalog and rank each one low as possible without malicious intention.


That’s a valid point. For it to work, you would need to put some work into the messaging. I think IFComp is big enough that it isn’t likely to stall it altogether, but I grant the concern has merit.


(Should probably admit that my problems with run offs were my point of maximum devil’s advocatoryiveness (shh). I feel like it has potential practical problems, but I don’t feel ideologically/emotionally against it like I do most of the other things being suggested here.)


I have been a professional visual artist at art fairs for over a decade, and being an artist is a hard old world, because art is subjective. I have had people say the most hurtful, awful things straight to my face about my work (which admittedly is often deliberately provocative and ugly), and that tends to overshadow all the people who bought my work and loved it. But you have to get used to it, because someone’s going to hate it, always and every time, and they’re going to say so, and that’s the price of putting yourself out there.

I think here we all agree that games are art, and so nobody is immune from the harsh reality of criticism of your creations. I recently read a TERRIBLE review of Anchorhead. At a gallery opening recently for my favorite living artist (who commands at least $50K per painting and who is collected by museums), I heard a man say nasty things about her work. For anyone who got those one-star ratings, don’t let it overshadow the good ratings and the nice things people said. You make your art the way you do because that’s what you like, and that’s the point.


Looks like time to post this again. I’ll modestly fold it for the musical-theater averse.

'Nine People's Favorite Thing'

Nine People's Favorite Thing - YouTube

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Frankly, I think I’d rather get 100 1 votes than 10 middling votes. I want my games to impact people and spark discussion…the worst thing is to put a bunch of work into something and have it be ignored.

I think it’s worth too considering the power of the protest “1”, imagine a game impeccably made and beautifully written, which draws glowing reviews, but where the author very clearly created the work to insult you, or some immutable characteristic about you (race, religion, community of origin)…you’d probably hate this work more the more it got praise and acclaim. In this context a 1 is perfectly acceptable, no matter the objective “quality” of the game …but a lot of reactions to art are like that.


I honestly don’t expect them to be continuations of the same game, not the most successful entries, that is. I expect the realization that the short story doesn’t always translate to a novel to be a reoccurring one. I suspect that, while they may both contain the same seed, and may recycle some code and concepts, quite a few authors may take the overall idea from the Speed-IF and reframe it properly for a larger piece.

Then again, maybe someone will subvert my expectations and will find a successful way to work with what they already have, maybe an anthology approach like Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. That’s the point, though, figuring out how best to approach those two disparate problems.

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True, but that can kinda be applied to the people who were voting 1s on all choice games to prove a point. They all thought that non-parser games were an affront to the competition.

Hopefully in the situation you describe it’s more likely that a well-made game designed to insult a specific group is invariably going to be removed for other reasons separate from quality or because it garners an odd cloud of 1-votes.

Possibly a more realistic situation - you play a game and the grammar is atrocious, there are eight misspellings on page one, half of the links don’t work, and it’s obvious someone slapped something out and entered it with no editing nor even a casual proofread. That might warrant a legit 1 vote from many people.

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I think I wouldn’t count on the comp mods alone to filter out “mean” games. I don’t actually know the comp rules on this in terms of outright disqualification, but I’ve definitely given games lower mental or actual rankings because they were eg fatophobic or mean spirited in other ways. The comp isn’t necessarily going to appreciate the subtle ways a game can be mean, or terrible to you, its possible no one but you can.

More to the point a lot of what merits this kind of punishment is going to be as eccentric as “all choice games shall receive ones”…examples include “all timed text entries shall receive ones” or “all entries with art shall receive ones because I consider this a text based comp.” Some judges loathe timed text, and this doesn’t seem to me to be any more eccentric than a judge that loathes a work that makes fun of Texans

I just wouldn’t do that, y’all. Despite our funny accent and terrible politics, it’s inadvisable to make fun of us-- we tend to be armed and drunk.


There have also been specifically entered “troll games” which have sought specifically to be the lowest-rated games in the comp, and often feature toilets.

There was another legit entry (I think) last year or the year before that was weirdly fat-phobic but it stayed in. Sometime’s there’s the weird line to be navigated when a game broaches sensitive subjects and includes very triggering material but makes a legitimate point. I still would expect something like a hypothetical “Gay-Bashing Simulator 2022” would draw some scrutiny by organizers to determine whether it’s clever social commentary or just a troll meant to hurt people.

I personally had to temporarily nope out of January for afore-documented reasons, but it’s one of my favorite games and placed highly.

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I do think putting a popup out telling people to consider their 1s clearly is a bad idea but I don’t think people are fulminating against the existence of 1s, so much as 1s which seem to be inappropriately applied.

I’d buy this as a practical matter.

Is that bad-faith, though? One could argue that it isn’t, and that having an account requirement should be disqualifying.

If you think non-parser games are an affront you should vote 1; it’s just, like, you know

It wasn’t. I actually discussed it with the organizers before entering it and was cleared - it occurred kind of right in the beginning of the transition between “games must have a component people can download” and “you may host your game online” as that became more popular.

In that specific case the reviewer said they scored the game without playing it which is clearly defined in the IFComp rules as bad-faith voting.


Yeah I dunno. It might be that I am steeped in like legal realism as the result of my job but I don’t think there’s an easy way to demarcate bad faith lowballing from eccentric lowballing. For some people fatophobia is a hard “get the hell out of here”, for others it’s a “oh come now, you can do better” for some people timed text merits immediate disqualification, for other people it’s an atmospheric trick to be used sparingly. Those people are wrong.

In short, eccentric scoring is the kind of thing you invite when the public judges your game, and any score below a “9” of my own games was clearly made in bad faith .


Thing is, if you are legitimately scoring Comp entries, that means you are actually playing the entries, and defaulting to 1 for every single one disregarding other potential qualities like writing signifies prejudice that could be a potential vote-disqualification. I’d think if someone is making that effort beyond “what type of narrative is this?” they’re gonna get something that rises to a 2 at least.

If someone hates choice games, they’re not forced to play nor score them and that takes a lot less effort than hate-voting.

Can I step back for a bit and ask this: what measures are in place to make it harder for an author to drive-by their likely competition’s scores by slapping a casual 1 on it? Not impossible, just less convenient?

Obviously, something systematic like “they vote 1 on all the games near to them” would probably get disqualified for being hella obvious, but if an author votes on an account not linked to their own, has 15 “reasonable” votes and guesses their next closest competition and slaps a 1 on it, will that go through?

You can escalate this to the point where the author’s interference is impossible for the comp judges to defend against (the author makes 60 accounts or something, each of which rates a random selection with “reasonable” votes, boosting their own game by 3 and taking down their competition by 3) but I think that’d be both enough trouble that it’s unlikely to happen and kinda impressive if it did to be honest. I mean, I’d be impressed that they went through the trouble!

But, specifically, that kind of thing I’m worried about is an otherwise fair judge going “Hey I want my friend to win I’ll just throw a 1 on this competitor’s game.”


I think they latter one is a huge concern

Okay, sure, but you also tend to be 8000 kilometres away from me!

I don’t know if it was already my opening post that made you uncomfortable, but if it was, my apologies. It may have been too strongly worded, coming from an emotional reaction to seeing people’s highly polished labours of love voted down with what seemed inexplicably extreme scores.

Of course some people have suggested – not without reason – that my powers of explication may be too limited; and many more have suggested, in various ways, that I should chill out and relax (and I have to a large extent chilled out and relaxed, and in fact am somewhat regretting setting off this avalanche of posts).

I also hope it is clear that I was never making an argument against 1 votes in general.

I suppose that a non-trivial amount of the disconnect I sometimes feel in this and similar discussions has to do with the subjectivity of art. When the IF Comp asks me to judge the pieces, I hear that as a call to take up an objective point of view and not merely report my own subjective enjoyment of the piece. Because reporting on my subjective enjoyment is not an act of judgement, judgement being a rational activity that involves attempting to understand the work on its own terms. But I suppose the terms ‘judge’ and ‘judgement’ don’t ring those bells for other people at all! And then something like my opening post may sound strange, because it doesn’t make sense to apply terms like ‘bad faith’ to someone’s self-reported subjective experience. (At least not unless you know a lot about that person and their circumstances.)

Which is another reason I now regret opening this can of worms.


I’m a Mac guy. Could I have legitimately given the Windows-only entries 1s? As much as I was tempted to exact revenge :slight_smile: , I just sighed and tried the next game in the queue.


Speaking as someone who essentially made a Windows only game, I do think you could have.