The Future of the XYZZY Awards

I don’t really think, as stated somewhere else, that the fact should be IF vs CYOA. Who the hell cares? If there is a good game, let it win. Period.
My problem is with televotes and x-factor scenarios. Just have a ‘professional’ jury and the popolar vote. The awards should be’ given by the experts, while a ‘mass favorite’ should be a different award. Ok, maybe the most liked games won’t win. But then again, do Oscars winners outsell the Scary Movie franchise?

For what it’s worth, the idea of separating out CYOA is not very popular among the organisers, and is probably not very likely to happen. It’s included mostly for completeness; but I think it’s been pretty much talked to death already, and I’d welcome more focus on the other options.

I support these two proposals. I feel guilty for not participating in the XYZZYs more proactively myself, and I feel the reason that I have not participated about half the years or so that I’ve been following IF is that the Awards are not structured enough, at least on the voter end. The Comp is much more structured and has much higher momentum, and the only year that I’ve missed the Comp since 2004 was due to life circumstances.

In particular, a third round would allow more momentum to build up, and it would let me feel like I had a legitimate second chance if (or when) I do miss the first round. I also need more time to try to play the nominees before the final round. I’m a college student, and the semester always builds up toward mid-terms. I wanted to play at least Cryptozooker this year so I could consider voting for it, but I didn’t have time.

Some general XYZZY improvement suggestions:

  • There should be an email reminding people about the closing of the rounds. I missed the second round this year not because I didn’t want to vote but because I knew back in February that the nominations ended in early March so put voting off until it was too late.
  • Perhaps consider being able to sign up any time of the year for the awards, and have a ‘games you might have missed’ email or announcement half-way through the year, perhaps highlighting games worth playing.

A question: if/when I get admitted into the shadowy judging cabal (I co-own three xyzzy nominations from 2007), do I have to buy my own ceremonial robes or do they come with the appointment?


This seems like a sensible enough idea. (I held off on reminding people somewhat this year, because I didn’t want to nag. But if the general opinion is ‘nag me more, please’, message received.)

Nrgh, and then we’re in the position of endorsing particular games. It’d be nice if people who weren’t organisers would do that, but then we run into vote-funneling problems again.

You have to buy your own robes (through a properly accredited supplier) for all grades, up until the Hallowed Circle of the Obfuscated Grue. At which point you take on the robes of the member you killed to earn your position.

Can I just rob someone for them, as long as I don’t

high-five the guard?

I like the idea too, but I’d rather see an RSS feed, syndicated through Planet-IF et al.

We’re very close* to being able to offer a DailyLit-style site that could serve up subscriptions of playing suggestions. In case that needs expansion: You’d go to the site, sign up for a daily subscription such as “Beginner’s Introduction to IF”, “Modern IF Literacy”, “2011 XYZZY Nominees”, “2010 IF Winners”, etc., and each day a new game would be served up in an online player.

[size=85]*Well, somebody would have to build the site, but other than that we’re close…[/size]

To the wider question, I like the following tweaks:

  1. Only games with an IFDB entry are eligible for the awards. (This would presumably also make it much easier to compile the list of eligible games.)
  2. The listing of games in all rounds should include hyperlinks to the repositories where folks can get/play the games. (Again, deriving the list from IFDB would make this pretty easy to do.)
  3. Allow voters to make comments on the games when voting. Not for any of the exclusionary/weighting reasons mentioned in the OP, but to foster author feedback and conversation. Comments should be visible to other voters, if not to the public at large, after votes are cast.
  4. “Allow people to self-police on campaigning/discussion, but set a clear standard for when the organisers can throw out votes.”
  5. In the final round(s) of voting, voters should certify that they’ve played a minimum number of the games in the category.
  6. Review the names of the categories as described in the OP.
  7. Allow authors to vote for their own games.

Suggestions to differentially weight votes, use only a rarified judging panel or voting pool, change the fundamentals of the voting process, or ghettoize/bar CYOA are in my opinion either odious or unnecessary.

I like Erik’s IFDB requirement idea.

Other ideas I like:
#8: Scrapping the first round list
Modified #3: Requiring comments with votes

I wholeheartedly endorse this idea (as well as IF podcasts) and nominate Someone Who Is Not Me to run it.

As things stand at the moment, this would eliminate: most AIF and non-English-language games (although these rarely earn a significant number of votes anyway), most ADRIFT and Quest games, a scattering of random games uploaded to the Archive or mentioned on ifWiki that nobody made an IFDB page for, and all ChoiceScript games. (But of course, if anybody didn’t like it they could fix it with a little effort.) It would also make David Welbourn’s life considerably easier.

A fair way to do it might be to announce, sometime around the end of the year, that the XYZZYs would be starting up by [date], and if you want a game to be considered you should make sure it’s got an IFDB page.

Yes, I think that’s all it would take, and in the process IFDB’s value as a community resource would be improved, and we’d also have some assurance that nominees’ games have at least some connection to the community. (And if one day Bethesda games the system by entering Elder Scrolls XIX into the IFDB on the sly, well, that is the day we will have won.)

All of the comps are open voting, art shows are no voting, I see no problem with one event being judges’ voting.

As well, it can be different judges for different categories, because few judges are qualified in all categories, and, it reduces the burden on each judge not to be responsible for the whole shebang.

Categories can vary about how open they are to outsiders. I couldn’t see many outside the IF circle in the puzzle or tech categories, but characterization? Sure, bring in a professional trad-fic author who still uses a typewriter.

Rather than cordon off CYOA into a category, I recommend a Best Parser Game category. That bastion will always be ours, and rewards works only expressible as parser IF, such as Earl Grey, The Gostak, etc.

I am already planning to start a blog for, and although I had only been planning to showcase/curate beginner friendly IF, it could serve those other needs as well. Just as long as there are editors for each category - I could run the blog as a whole, but I would want editors to do the selections/reviews etc.

I also like the best Parser work idea, though it might overlap with best use of medium too much.

I like this better than the self-nominating thing. The IFDB itself doesn’t bar any games that I know of, so it wouldn’t actually block any game from being eligible … it would just make sure the game has at least one fan (or author) with some clue about the IF community to begin with, and make sure everything was listed in one place that’s easy to use (for several reasons already cited) so, sounds fine. While I’d never feel entirely comfortable self-nominating (not that I wouldn’t do it, but I sometimes wouldn’t do it), I have no problems at all making sure I have stuff in the database; that’s what it’s for.

I’m not sure if it would actually exclude most ADRIFT games (or, at least, non-AIF ADRIFT games). There were only about 20 released last year and I’ve tried to keep IFDB pretty up-to-date on them. If this means that more Quest and ChoiceScript games show up on IFDB, I don’t think that would be a bad thing.

Looking at IFWiki’s “Games Released in 2011” makes me think ADRIFT’s IFWiki presence could use some love, though.

Why not have both “Best Parser Game” and “Best Choice Game” categories, and the winners of both categories would both still be eligible for Best Game. That sounds like the most fair way to retain a separation between the two while recognizing that both have a place in the same community. And I think we do need a separation – separate but equal, right?

I don’t have any solutions, but I wanted to add my voice here in support of not doing anything that would weight things towards comp games even more. Some of this is personal (I’m releasing a Banned From Comp! game later this month), of course. However, I’d also like to point out that the comp is already the center of the IF world, and it weights things strongly towards shorter games, towards non-experimental games (that are likely to win the comp, because they aren’t particularly innovative and everyone can get their head around them) and towards games that are not fan fictional (my personal hobbyhorse).

Most people probably think at least one of these is undesirable (is there anyone in the IF community whose hobbyhorse is ‘originality, originality, and a Romantic idea of the author!’? And surely there are folks who are part of the community for Zork clones and Zork clones alone) but most people probably think at least one of them is desirable, too (who can argue against longer, more involved games? And if, like me, you think The Fen Are Our Future…).

Basically: Comp is great! I don’t want people to have to be eligible for the comp to have any shot at a XYZZY! So let’s not do things that make that even more the case.

Edited to add:
[rant]Wait, inserting a trademark doesn’t work?! I bet emdashes and endashes don’t work correctly either—do they? Wait, they do, what does that even mean—if I copy and pasted a trademark would that work? ™ !!! WTF ARGH BBCODE I HATE YOU[/rant]

As it happens, I do believe in bringing about a future dominance of boggy marshland (especially in cities), but I suspect that’s not what you meant.

I’m really starting to see the value in some kind of institution to highlight lesser played and out-of-comp games that are worth playing. Hmm.

I haven’t seen this mentioned – if I missed it, I apologize –

Matt W. mentioned creating a CYOA category as an outreach method. Along those lines, you could see what happened this year as an incredible success, demonstrating the benefits of allowing authors to raise awareness about the awards.

XYZZYA could encourage authors to solicit votes for their own games (while forbidding authors from talking about competing games). Since authors want to see their games win, they’ll promote the competition and therefore IF.

…In effect, what XYZZYA did this year was to set up a special category for CYOA, and that seems reasonable to me. Then again, I also think it would be reasonable to allow IF and CYOA to compete directly, even considering that CYOA’s demographic advantage may permanently drown out IF. CYOA may be a better form, although I don’t like it as much.


In effect, it was a separate category for ChoiceScript games: after all, The Play still (deservedly) won Best Story. Really though, the ‘fix’ was against crowd-sourced voting rather than ChoiceScript per se. If I made a high quality ChoiceScript game and whacked it on the IFDB, I’d want it to be eligible for all the relevant awards.