Proposed ruleset for IF awards comp and name poll

January 15th is my day to have everything finalized for the awards; after that, no new categories will be added, and hopefully rules will be stabilized. This post is cleaning up the final name and then listing a proposed ruleset.

Name change:
Some people have proposed different names for the competition. Here are the possibilities:

  • The Interactive Fiction Player’s Choice and Author’s Choice Awards
  • The IFDB Awards (with player’s choice and author’s choice categories)
  • The IF Community Awards (with player’s choice and author’s choice categories)

0 voters

(most ‘cute names’ are already taken, like Digital Wordsmith Awards or Golden Narrative Awards. I’d rather stick with something purely descriptive).

Proposed rules:


The Interactive Fiction Player’s Choice and Author’s Choice Awards are a pair of annual competitions designed to award excellence in creating interactive fiction.

They are held from February 1st to February 15th each year on the Interactive Fiction Database, and take the form of polls.
-The Player’s Choice competition is a set of open polls that anyone can participate in.
-The Author’s Choice competition is a set of closed polls that only published authors can participate in.

Votes in the Player’s Choice competition are public. Votes in the Author’s Choice competition are public but anonymized.

Eligibility to vote in the Author’s Choice competition is determined by having a game linked to your IFDB profile (this can be found by editing a game page and use the ‘Link to Author’s Profile’ feature. Authors added incorrectly to a game will not be permitted to vote (for instance, if someone associates a random game they didn’t make to their account).

Rules for discussion and voting

-Voting must be in good faith and be based on personal experience with the games involved.
-Campaigning or organizing voting is not allowed if it breaks the above rule.
-Discussion of games on merit is allowed and encouraged.
-There is no hard limit on how many votes a person can cast in each poll for different games. A player voting for so many games that it makes voting difficult for others (such as voting for every game from the whole year) may have their votes removed, but only after warning.
-Author cannot vote for their own games. Such votes will be removed so that the running tallies are correct. Authors can post about their own games (for instance on intfiction) as long as doesn’t encourage people to break the rules (such as telling people to vote for your game even if they haven’t played it).

Code of conduct

-Voters must abide by the IFDB Code of Conduct. Harassment of other voters (including on other platforms) and creating multiple accounts for one person are prohibited.

-Votes that are cast incorrectly (for instance, voting for a Twine game in a Choicescript poll) or fraudulently (for instance, using sockpuppet accounts) may be removed.

-For most polls, games are eligible if they are listed on IFDB and have a publication date during 2022.
-For system- or genre-specific polls, games additionally must have the appropriate system or genre listed on their IFDB page under the specified field.
-Each poll will have a link to an IFDB search listing eligible games.
-Any IFDB user can edit game pages to confirm eligibility. However, malicious editing (such as adding every genre to a game or adding incorrect systems to a game) will be reverted or removed.
-Any game author can opt out of the competition. Adding a note to the game page during the competition may be helpful to let others know not to vote for it, but opting out should be officially done by messaging the organizer (me, for now).


-Results will be clearly visible throughout the poll. However, there will be a grace period of up to 3 days at the end to allow checking of votes before the official announcements, which will be made on Intfiction and IFDB.
-Polls with very low traffic will not have a winner awarded. This includes less than 5 votes for the winning game.

Future of Awards

One of the main purposes of these new awards is to be community-owned and regular. They need to keep working even if I don’t keep working.

The awards begin on February 1st of each year. If Feb 1st passes without the current organizer having created the polls, anyone can create the polls themselves.

The community can propose new changes to awards or new organizers via public discussion. A public yes/no poll on intfiction with more than 50% voting yes can be used to add new organizers. Current organizers can also add in other organizers or successors, subject to a public veto.


Just popping in to say that the name poll heavily favors “the IFDB awards”.

This name was suggested by someone, so I included it in the poll, but I’ll need permission from the other IFDB admins asking for their feedback. I messaged the other IFDB admins yesterday. If I don’t hear back by the 15th, I’ll go with the second name in the poll until such time as I have permission to use the IFDB Awards, and if no permission is ever granted, continue with the second-place name as the name being used this year.

Edit: Also, any thoughts on if I (or future organizers) should not be part of the competition? IFComp keeps committee members from participating but XYZZY hasn’t. I’m fine being excluded as I always have the XYZZY’s to participate in (one reason I like having two different award sets), but it’d be interesting to hear what others think. Impossible Stairs (in Dialog) is my only game that would be up for things.


I think it would be OK for organisers to be participants. There’s a conflict of interest, but I’d trust you and if other organisers have to be approved by us (“the community”) then that implies we’d trust them too.


Can’t help thinking that half* the people who participate in polls have a game put on IFDB at some point. So in the Author’s Choice categories, we are neglecting about half the community. You could consider basing it on those who were authors the relevant year, similar to IFComp.

*: This is just an estimate based on the top 3 games in the poll “Canonicity and IF” made in 2017.

I am not so fond of this approach because categories with a bigger standard deviation will have less votes on the winner even though the category got the same attention. So it is better to base it on how many people voted in that category.

If you keep this award event simple, it will be easier to get extra organizers (I can only speak for myself).


This is a fair point to make. Originally, the purpose of splitting the comp into public and authors was because the public one was going to be a free for all with campaigning and votes coming from the outside, while the authors one essentially worked as a verification system with a group of people that had, as a whole, a good grasp on how games work.

With the rule changes now put in place, the two categories aren’t all that different. I could see one side being discontinued completely next year, kind of like the first IFComp’s two categories. But I think we’ll keep the rules as written for now and change it up next year based on results.

What’s your idea for the number of people that vote in a specific category? Sounds like it could work.

And yeah, I agree that simple is better! And I’m glad people are interested in keeping it going whether I continue or not!


Out of curiosity, what were the first IFComp’s two categories?


IFComp started as a competition for people to make open-source Inform games, as Inform had just been released and people wanted examples to work with.

TADS was the biggest language at the time, and they wanted in on it, so it was Inform and TADS.

Tuning this competition has been a lot like beta testing my games. Anyone who’s tested for me before knows I make a trash game, get feedback, change it, and keep going until it’s not trash. That’s kind of what IFComp did (though only the rules changed, the games were great), and that’s what I’m doing with this comp. Hopefully it turns out well, and sorry for everyone having to see the sausage-making in public!


Short (two-hour) Inform games. Open-source wasn’t a motivation (or a requirement).


You’re the last person I’d like to argue that point on, given our relative experience on the matter, but when I was deep diving RAIF a few years ago this is the post that made me think of it:

“This idea has been bandied about on r.a.i-f for awhile, so I am
making it a reality. The original concept of the contest was to get more
Inform source code out in the public domain. However, the TADS authors
wanted to play too, so a category was added for them. Here is my own
personal vision for the contest.:”

You’re right that I spaced it on the two hours thing. It’s interesting that he describe the vote line this:
“The judging will be a ‘People’s Choice Awards’ type deal for the…”

That may be where I got the idea for the name originally; I’ve consciously thought of tumbe origin of IFComp and xyzzy as viewed through the RAIF archives while working on these awards. I like getting perspectives from the people actually involved, though.


Well, I can’t argue with the quote. But Whizzard was clearly describing an idea that he had ditched in the process of launching the comp.


It’s hard looking back at old forum posts to know what really mattered at the time and what didn’t, especially since a lot didn’t get saved. I’m glad to have you and others on the forum who can give a real perspective on it.


I’m pretty sure Whizzard’s still around; I swear I saw him on IFMUD sometime recently. You could just ask him if he remembers the post/conversation directly.

1 Like

For winning
If you have a threshold, people might not bother playing games in a category thinking that it won’t pass the threshhold. Or worse, if someone bothered to play all games in a category, just to see that no winner was announced, that will be very discouraging. Why not only require one vote to declare a winner? That might encourage people to play games from the less popular platforms as their votes will have a bigger impact. I think that this is the main purpose of having categories for the less popular authoring systems.

For skipping a year
This wasn’t mentioned in the rules and should probably not be decided on before we have experience from the 2022 awards but of course, if a category does not get any attention year after year, you could consider removing it the following year. I mention this, as it might be related to declaring a winner:
As I see it, if a category is not popular enough, we might remove it the following year. But I don’t think it is a good reason fot not declaring a winner, due to all the negative effects I mentioned under “For winning”.


Are you talking about whether organizers can vote, or whether organizers’ games are eligible to be voted for, or both? (I’m curious how XYZZYs would handle it if the organizer’s game won. Maybe they have multiple people checking over the results anyway?)


I don’t plan on voting, but I’ll leave that up to the next organizer.

Sam Ashwell was nominated for Best Writing for Scents and Semiosis in 2020.

Earlier organizer Paul O’Brian was nominated for several awards and won at least one for this Earth and Sky series of games while he was the runner.

Edit: After thinking about it more, I think I’m going to keep my game in the polls but then not award it the official award if it wins one, instead passing it on to the next. That way I’ll still know what people thought of my game but I won’t be incentivized to cheat not that I was going to, but it’s nice to have external controls.


I don’t have a good solution, but it did occur to me that even if the award gets passed to the next person, everyone will know that the award winner didn’t get the most votes, because the voting results are public.

Another possibility–and I’m not saying this is better, because I don’t know–would be to make organizers’ games eligible for the players’ choice awards (which are completely public, and therefore more transparent) but not the authors’ choice awards. Or maybe organizer’s games could be eligible for both categories, but there could be multiple people supervising the authors’ choice votes as a safeguard.


That solution seems very smart. I like that idea, making it only eligible for the public awards.

That’s the last major rule change I plan on making. Today’s the day everything gets cemented in as much as possible, which I’ll make an announcement about.


Honestly I don’t see the issue with allowing the organizers’ games to win awards. The votes are public, after all—how much more transparent can you get?