Results tagged “awards”

We just got a new issue of SPAG. (The Society for the Promotion of Adventure Games, a long-historied zine of the IF community. It's old enough that it was originally "Society for the Preservation of Adventure Games" because we thought IF might die out or something. 1994, right?)

I want to respond to Ted Casaubon's article, "Safeguarding Your IF Voting From Animal Attack". The author looks at our IF voting traditions (IFComp and the XYZZY Awards) and puts them in context with last year's furor around the Hugos, the (much more famous) annual awards of the science fiction and fantasy community.

This is an excellent article overall. Ted's comparison is absolutely one that weighed on my mind last year, and still does today. The 2016 Hugo nominations were last month, and XYZZY nominations just started. Does the videogame world have a radical-angry faction analogous to the Sad/Rabid Puppies? Why yes. So it could happen here and we should worry about that. The article talks about that possibility and it does a good job.

Videogame Hugo: 2015 potentials

Last month I posted about the idea of a videogame category for the Hugo awards.

A few days later there was a discussion thread on File770 (a prominent SF fandom news blog). The discussion was a good snapshot of community response to the idea.

The biggest objection was that there aren't enough good games to make a category worthwhile. People cited 15 to 25 as a desirable minimum. (The Hugos have a two-stage voting process. So you want at least 25-ish plausible suggestions for "best game of the year", which then get narrowed down to five finalists, which then get narrowed down to one winner.)

The petition that sparked that discussion thread went nowhere. However, I think it's worthwhile to put up a concrete list. The subject will certainly come up again, and I want people to be able to point and say "Yes, look, there are that many games every year!"

I'm going to focus on indie and amateur interactive fiction titles, because that's my field. I've got nothing against big-budget SF games, but you can get a list of those off any game-industry news site. This is the wider field of games which might not be familiar to the non-gaming SF fan. Most, though not all, are short games -- two hours playtime down to ten minutes.

I'm not saying that all of these games are, in fact, Hugo-worthy. I haven't played most of them! I'm gathering highly-rated titles from a variety of sources, including IF competitions and game-jams of 2015. (Special thanks to Emily Short's mid-2015 roundup post.)

(I do not yet include games from IFComp 2015, the big IF competition of 2015. That's still in progress and will be for another month. When it ends, it will certainly add another handful of titles to this post. I'll update then.) (Also still in progress: the Windhammer Prize for Short Gamebook Fiction.)

Videogames in the Hugo Awards

This post is not about nomination slates.

The recent excitement around the Hugos has led to record-breaking levels of public discussion and voting. That's good! It's also led to an early start to the "what's worth nominating next year?" discussions. Also good (and I've noted down some recommendations for my own to-read list). But that's not what this post is about either. This is a game blog, so we're going to talk about the possibility of a "Best Videogame" category for the Hugos.

To catch up: the Hugo Awards are the annual awards for best science fiction and fantasy of the year. They originated in 1953. There are a bunch of categories, including Novel, Short Story, Short Dramatic Presentation (TV episodes), and Long Dramatic Presentation (movies). But the categories have shifted over time; for example, a Graphic Story (comics) category was added in 2009.

So how about a videogame Hugo category? Many games are science fiction and fantasy. (I could argue that most videogames have at least some SF or fantasy elements.) (I could also argue that "sci-fi videogames" do not form a genre the way sci-fi books or movies do, but I won't get into that argument here.)

Looking back in history, I find that an "Interactive Video Game" category was experimentally added in 2006. It received very few nominations and the category was dropped before the final round.

But, I venture to say, times have changed and fandom has (slowly, cane-wavingly) changed too. Comics are in -- probably because lots more fans read comics. (I suspect this is because of web-comics.) Are games as widely appreciated by SF fandom? I'm sure they are, because the field of gaming has become so variegated and spread to so many audiences. Not everybody is playing Metal Gear Solid this week -- I'm not -- but an awful lot of people have played a casual web-game or an online board-game or some form of IF or an indie Steam game or, or, or... something.

So I'm willing to say it's time.

Put your favorite new IF in the IFDB

If you’d like to see a text game released in 2013 nominated for the XYZZY Awards, you have a few days left to make sure that it has an entry in the IFDB while it’s still 2013.

The XYZZYs are trying something new this year: every nominee must have an IFDB entry. While a perhaps bit wobbly in its homegrown editing interface, the IFDB nevertheless allows anyone to edit its existing game entries, or create new ones. In particular, a game’s creators are not barred from creating or updating their own works’ IFDB entries.

I stress that games you’d like to make eligible via the IFDB needn’t adhere to the classic parser-based IF format. This month I myself have added IFDB entries for both a web-based hypertext game and a commercial game-book adaptation for tablets, both of which I hope to see among the 2013 nominees. The competition’s post on the subject goes into more detail on what is and isn’t acceptable, under the section “Interactive fiction” — though it allows that this style of play does find itself in a period of definitional transition at the moment.

The XYZZYs occurred

Warbler cakeI co-hosted a small gathering at my place to watch the proceedings on IFMud. The vaguely thematic snacks we presented were all handily superceded by Ruth’s gift of The Warbler’s Nest cakes. The homemade chocolate buttercream mixed deliciously with the spongy atmospheric dread.

As for the actual XYZZYs, Matt Wigdahl’s dinosaur-infused young-adult adventure Aotearoa ran away with it, racking up seven awards, including Best Game. Of Gameshelf writers’ nominations, Zarf’s Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home took home Best Writing, and he also nabbed Best Technological Development for Quixe. And I humbly report that my own Warbler’s Nest won the Best Story XYZZY.

I was a little sad that the ballot didn’t contain more nominees from outside the IFComp, particularly since 2010 saw many fine IF games released for Jay is Games’ Casual Gameplay Design Competition #7 at the start of the year. I suspect a recency effect; since the high-profile and heavily discussed IFComp happens late in the year, its titles are quite fresh in the minds of folks casting first-round ballots. I can speak for myself, here: only after I saw Stephen Granade’s excellent Fragile Shells on the final ballot did I realize that I hadn’t even considered it when submitting my own nominations, even though I loved it, way back in the mist-enshrouded days of last January.

I was interested to hear followup discussion, both at the party and on the MUD, about ways the XYZZY nomination ballot might present the year’s works other than the monolithic alphabetically sorted list it sports now. Perhaps double-sorting the list by competition (including “non-competition” as a category), and then by date, oldest-first? But, that’s a matter for next year.

A XYZZY reminder

Voting in the 2010 XYZZY Awards — the Oscars of interactive fiction! — closes this evening (Friday, Feb. 25), at midnight Pacific time. The awards ceremony will happen precisely twelve hours later on IFMud.

I feel it worth the last-minute reminder due to the Gameshelfish notability of this year’s contest: both of this blog’s two main authors have works nominated in the “Best Game” category. (And then Zarf has gone ahead and collected six more nominations across two games and a JavaScript library, because Zarf.) The names of many Friends of the Shelf also appear in that list, and all told it’s the final hoorah for one heck of a calendar year for this wordy corner of the videogame medium.

Anyone can vote, via the web interface. The contest organizers assure me that submitting partial ballots is A-OK, so even if you’ve (played/read/used) only a fraction of the (games/books/resources) up for awards, I encourage you to vote just the same, sticking to the categories you’re comfortable with.

Best of luck to all nominees!

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