Some proposed rule changes for IFDB Awards (now closed)

Edit: Results are in, and new polls here: Some proposed rule changes for IFDB Awards (now closed) - #50 by mathbrush

Hello! It’s time to start thinking about the IFDB awards last year.

This is a set of awards I started last year as a counterpoint to the XYZZY awards, being earlier in the year and having a complementary set of categories. Here are the rules as posted last year:

Rule Set

The IFDB Awards is an annual competition designed to award excellence in creating interactive fiction.

It is held from February 1st to the first weekend after 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).
-The organizer’s games are eligible for the player’s choice awards, but not the author’s choice awards.


-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 is left up to organizer discretion, but low traffic may include less than 5 votes for the winning game or less than ten votes total cast.

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.

I’d like to suggest a few changes this year. I’ll do a poll on each one.

First change: Merging the two votes

I’d like to combine the player’s choice and author’s choice votes. My original intention was that player’s choice would be open to everyone, and might be susceptible to vote laundering by sockpuppets and friends, but then the author’s choice, limited to people who had published a game before, would be more ‘vetted’.

In practice, there wasn’t much vote manipulation at all (there were 4 accounts all created the same day that voted for the same games and had the same IP address, and were blocked, but that’s it). Many people expressed confusion about the two polls.


  • The author’s choice and people’s choice polls should be merged
  • The two polls should stay separate.
0 voters

and, if merging is accepted,

  • The merged poll should be anonymous
  • The merged poll should list who voted for which game.
0 voters

Edit: Note that, with anonymous polls, you can opt in to leave a public comment on your vote that puts your name on it.

Second Change: Organizer’s game

I made a big game last year that I’d like to be eligible for awards. Last time I excluded myself from author’s choice, but many people didn’t seem to care. I’ll let you guys decide if it should be eligible or not (the worries would be that with an anonymous poll I might cheat, or people might feel obligated to vote for it).

  • The organizer’s games should be eligible for votes
  • The organizer’s games should not be eligible for votes
0 voters

Third Change: Conflict with XYZZY’s

Sam Kabo Ashwell, organizer of the XYZZY’s, has indicated that he is finding help to work on making the XYZZY awards earlier in the year.

If that happens, it might conflict with the IFDB awards. The XYZZY’s are much older than the IFDB Awards. If there is a conflict, should the IFDB awards be moved?

  • The IFDB Awards should move if they are in conflict with the XYZZYs
  • The IFDB Awards should not move even if it conflicts with the XYZZYS
  • The IFDB Awards should be permanently cancelled if the XYZZYs start running early in the year
0 voters

Fourth Change: Changes in categories

The original categories were conducted by poll. Some of the results make a lot of sense, while others make less sense.

Two sets of polls were based on sample size; both Systems and Genres required each category to have at least 5 games in them.

I think the System categories were fairly popular, as it gave some recognition to people and systems that consistently get left out of other award ceremonies. Genres seemed relatively okay, although there were some people unhappy with how it required manually editing genres into games, and others were unhappy with the selection of possible genres.

  • System and Genre polls should keep their requirements (at least 5 games that have that system or genre in the pertinent IFDB field)
  • The qualifications for these polls should change
0 voters

The foreign language polls were hit or miss. In one of the languages, a ton of people voted; in another, people said, “What’s the point?” since all games of that language came from one comp which already had a winner.

So this year, I’ll include Spanish, French, and German, like before, but I would like at least one representative of those communities (defined as someone who has played some 2022 games in that language and would plan on voting) to confirm that they would like to be represented.

Finally, the other awards were as follows:

  • Outstanding Game of the Year
  • Outstanding Debut
  • Outstanding Game Over 2 Hours
  • Outstanding Short Game
  • Outstanding Underappreciated Game
  • Most Sequel-Worthy Game
  • Outstanding Feelies
  • Trailblazer Award
  • Outstanding Worldbuilding
  • Outstanding Use of Interactivity
  • Outstanding Retro Game

Of these, I would like to drop Outstanding Feelies. It was hard to make an IFDB search for it and it had very low participation.

  • Best Feelies should be dropped as a category
  • Best Feelies should be retained as a category
0 voters

Please mention below if you have any other changes you’d like to make to categories. I’d like to finish, if possible, by January 15th with any rule changes. The actual competition will still be held Feb 1!


Yay! It’s coming back :partying_face:

The merging of the Author’s/Player’s choice is a smart one imo, because it was pretty confusing. Also the anonymous voting!
Maybe the Author’s Choice could be done by checking the votes to accounts with listed games? Like the IFComp does (I think)?

I’m in also in the camp of keeping the event to a set date every year, even if it could go into conflict with the XYZZY. I believe the voting categories are different enough that it wouldn’t be too conflicting.

As a Frenchie (though I don’t think I speak for all the community), I really liked the inclusion of a French language poll (both as an author and player)!


Agreed, the Author’s / Player’s choice split only confused an already long ballot.

I could give a laundry list of problems I have with the old genre requirements. Rather than go down them, I’d be happy if any game could poll in any genre, even if it’s not listed as such on IFDB. In other words, let the voters decide if a Mystery title is also a Fantasy title.


I was going to make this suggestion too!


I’d also like leeway for judges to decide re genres. Because it was a real menace last year, having to manually edit IFDB to add genres for voting. Assuming you could remember the games for them. And even then you’d only get to some. For me it’s like if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck I’ll assume for the duck genre it’s a duck. But with the proviso that said duck might also fit into other categories too :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I’d like to chime in re:genre.

I’m in favor of allowing any game to receive a vote for any genre.

Yes, you’ll get some bizarre votes, like a serious drama garnering a comedy vote, but these would be outliers and would be drowned out by good-faith genre votes.

This makes management waaaayyy easier. Both on the organizers and the participants. Laissez-faire.

It also allows unexpected organic results, or perhaps appreciating a game that is primarily in one genre for the aspects it occupies in a different genre.


I think there’s a danger of vote-splitting for games that do not have an obvious genre, but I don’t know that this is more of a problem than any alternative would pose. I’m not arguing against CYOG, just making an observation.

I do think it’s a shame that we can’t get a feelies award going, since they’re cool and there’s a long tradition in IF, but if people aren’t voting for them, then they aren’t.


Agreed. I think Mathbrush hit the nail on the head though. IFDB, for various reasons, often includes feelies as an afterthought. Some of this is cultural, as physical feelies have become more and more untenable as time goes on, most restricted to limited-runs for backers of kickstarter projects. Also, various digital stand-ins for feelies haven’t quite taken off yet. This may change with time. Perhaps maintaining an award focused on best digital feelie may help foster creativity on this front.

Digital feelie… deelie?


Yeah, at this late date, I would think digital feelies would be eligible. Or should be. I don’t think there’s a tag for it at IFDB? Or I haven’t encountered it, anyway.

(there is a “feelies better than game” tag, used only once)

I really liked the map/hints that came with LAKE Adventure for instance.


Ha! Wow… that’s harsh.


For Reliques of Tolti-Alph, of all things - and it’s also tagged with “source better than game.” I mean it’s not my favorite, but still, it’s got some interesting ideas and it surely isn’t as bad as all that.

I confess I just assumed “feelies” meant digital ones at this late date.


Yeah, I think in practice it was games with digital feelies that were being nominated! The issue was more that there wasn’t an easy way to find games that have them and the feelies aren’t always linked from the IFDB page in an obvious way, either.


It looks like the tag never really took off, for whatever reason. I have to confess that I didn’t tag my own game with it.


Maybe we can do a tagging drive this month in anticipation of the IFDB awards? Not sure how best to approach that.


There’s a not-uncommon complaint with tabletop games, that some supplements are designed to be read rather than to be played. (Certain writers at White Wolf used to be infamous for this, with some entire gamelines never even being playtested before release, since playability wouldn’t matter to the intended audience.)

And I’d say if any IF falls into that category, it’s Tolti-Aph, which is by design a pretty thorough demonstration of a lot of I7’s features. Balances is similarly a demo of how to do things in I6 (like the featureless white cubes you can label, which make for an obnoxious puzzle but a cool tech demo).


The XYZZY Awards used to have a category for “Best Supplemental Materials,” which was later renamed “Best Use of Multimedia,” so this might be covered already by the XYZZYs.


“Feelies” isn’t quite right nowadays since most IF is released digitally. What about “Outstanding Multimedia and Supplemental Materials” as a catch-all for games that include extras such as images, music and sound (video?), PDF maps or external lore like a book, ARG elements such as external websites, and any other potential fiddly-bits that might be included?

Small feelie diversion:

I was actually just chewing on a topographical relief map of the game world printed from a 3D printer as Jigsaw pieces that fit together to match up the continual topographical surface. (You don’t need images on the jigsaw pieces to fit it together then). As a side benefit, you wouldn’t need to see to be able to solve the puzzle and put it together. You could do it entirely by feel.

They could be designed to snap together, allowing you to then flip the completed map over and make sense of the mad symbols and scribblings etched across the bottom.

It’d be neat to do a braille version of the same scribblings and allow peeps to choose which version to print on the 3D printer.


First of all, I have played all the 2023’s games in spanish languaje reviewed in my blog or itchio and rated (almost 50 games). There were 3 comps and a dozen of other games.
Second, I think that all the categories are cute, but this would be of a big work, It’s number could be reduced and mixed. For example there are too much categories for the “only” 50 spanish games.


Right now I don’t plan on doing every category in Spanish, just one “outstanding Spanish game of 2023”.