More than sixty IFComp participants responded to a survey that I prepared after last year’s competition wrapped up. (That’s around one-quarter of everyone who either entered or voted in IFComp 2016, and that’s great!) As I hoped would happen, several common threads emerged from the responses. A few highlights:
Of those who thought that lifting the ban on public author commentary significantly changed the competition, ten times as many people found it an improvement versus a detriment.
As a result — and mixing in my personal observation that everything seemed to operate just fine under the simpler ruleset — we’re likely to keep this change in-place for 2017.
Lots of people, both judges and entrants, wish that judges could optionally leave some anonymous free-text feedback to entrants alongside their ratings. This never really occurred to me alone, so the spontaneous, many-voiced desire for it surprised and interested me.
At least one fellow contest-organizer I’ve spoken with since expressed surprise that IFComp doesn’t do this already. I fully admit that, in nerdish naivetÃ©, I figured that allowing entrants to include their contact information on the ballot filled this need well enough. So, this discovery alone made the survey feel worthwhile to me.
Many respondents would like to see a stronger link between the IFComp materials hosted on ifcomp.org and all the reviews, playthroughs, and other player-created material that the IF community (and, increasingly, the larger game-playing world) generates during the six-week judging period.
These responses resonated the most with me. I have for years wanted to more officially recognize “reviewer” as an IFComp participatory role, just as important as “entrant”, “judge” and “prize donor”. And I have, as the evidence shows, fallen short of any action in this direction.
So let me say it now: I hope to make 2017 the year of the review, for IFComp. We’ve got a few months before judging starts, and I plan to make use of this time to lead the IFComp committee and volunteer dev-team in discussing and implementing some simple ways to link IFComp entries with reviews. Ideally I’d like to increase reviews’ discoverability without upsetting the neutrality of the ballot itself. IFComp is larger than its ballot page, of course, and I feel confident we can find some routes that will work splendidly.
We’re still more than two months out from accepting entry-intents for this year’s competition, but it’s never too early to contribute either to the prize pool or to the IFTF fund that helps make IFComp itself possible. We set up a page about both kinds of donations last year, and every word remains true as written.
Please accept my gratitude for your interest in reading this far, your generosity should you choose to contribute to IFComp, and your shared excitement for what IFComp’s 23rd year will bring us both.