All-Star XYZZY Reviews, 2012 edition

For two years running, Sam Kabo Ashwell has done a heroic job organizing per-category reviews of the previous year’s XYZZY Award-nominated works of interactive fiction, written by authors of prior award-winning games. This year it took the form of a blog, with one writer’s take on a single award category’s nominees rolling out every day over the course of several weeks. Sam posted the final summary on Monday, linking to all the past posts by reviewer and category.

I managed to write four reviews, all covering the 2012 nominees for Best Implementation. I found an interesting challenge in not reviewing the games as whole works, as I normally would, but instead examining them in light of their epitomizing — according to the greater IF community — how a well-implemented text game ought to play. In at least one case this directive let me to write a rather crabby review of a game that I actually quite enjoyed playing, as I found myself rather disagreeing with the community about that particular game’s strongest aspects. I’ll leave it to you to read more about that, if you wish.

I thought the project worked quite splendidly, both as a reviewer and especially as a reader and player, and I look forward to reading more next year. But well before then, I look forward to returning to read many of these reviews, whose mere presence has moved me to queue up and belatedly play a bunch of these 2012 games first. I very much expect I’m not alone here, and that thought does please me.

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One Response to All-Star XYZZY Reviews, 2012 edition

  1. Sam Kabo Ashwell says:

    Thanks for signal-boosting, Jason.

    A minor correction: it's not strictly speaking written by authors of prior award-winning games. That's a good qualification, to be sure - if someone has won a particular award in the past then they're likely to have a particular interest, understanding and appreciation of that subject. But what I was primarily looking for - particularly this year - were people with a track record as reviewers, or People Who Like To Think Out Loud About This Stuff. (Excellent authors can make mediocre critics, and vice versa.) I invited Carl Muckenhoupt, for instance, more because of The Stack than because of either The Gostak or The Walking Dead. Duncan, Sean, Iain, Jenni and Dannii have never won a XYZZY; Emma has never been nominated for one; and I invited several people who have never so much as published a speed-IF, though as it turned out none of them could make it.

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