Is IF playing and authoring currently increasing or decreasing in popularity? Is there anyone who has been maintaining some manner of statistics to see the number of people downloading games over the years or the number of games created per year?
When I left the AIF community I was thinking the same thing.
I think videogames (both PC and console) have made text adventures take a back seat to newer games with very realistic animation.
The IFArchive logs are hard to make sense of, because overall Internet traffic always increases – robots and spiders tend to swamp players.
The closest thing we have to real statistics are the number of voters in the IFComp. That peaked around 2000, dropped somewhat, and now bounces up and down with no obvious trend. However, the past few years have seen a lot of IF-playing in other venues (the IF JIGComp, Gamasutra features, real-life IF play sessions in Boston) that are not attached to our part of the IF community and probably don’t get into IFComp voting. So it’s anybody’s guess, really.
My guess is that there have to be a certain number of people like me out there: that is, old-timers who have spent most of the past two decades lamenting the demise of Infocom, and then have been pleasantly surprised to learn about the “new” IF being written. In addition, the availability of Inform 7 opens the door for people like myself to try our hands at writing our own. My guess would be that the effect would be an increase in the amount that gets written and played, as compared to five or ten years ago.
I’m not sure if I’m an anomaly, but I’m among those who aren’t old-timerish enough to properly appreciate Zork and Planetfall (both of which I’ve played, albeit briefly). There may be much about IF’s basic conventions that remains the same, but still, it’s the advances and the maturation of the medium that drew me in.
Without Inform 7 (or TADS 3), I doubt I’d felt ready to get on the train. Nowadays, given the appearance of browser-based gaming, the use of Inform 7 in classrooms, the release of Aaron Reed’s book etc, it would surprise me to not see a rising interest.
A while back someone made real statistics of games released by year but I don’t remember where I saw it and can’t find it right now. You can see how many games were released each year by searching IFDB with ifdb.tads.org/search?searchfor=published%3A2010 (or at least the number of games listed in IFDB - it should cover almost all English games but the non-English games are mostly not listed there). The number of new releases has been steadily at around 100-150 releases per year for a couple of years.
2011 is 53 so far but there will be a spike when the IFcomp games are released.