Your Guide to the 2020 IFComp

IFComp 2020
IFComp 2020 logo by Rebecca Thomas

We are glad you're here! Over one hundred brand-new works of interactive fiction await your play and judgment.

Yes, over one hundred. 104, to be exact.

To that end, I'd like to make an announcement and share a few reminders and tips…


You will have November 29th, 2020 at 11:59pm Eastern to cast your ballots! This is a two-week extension. This was tried in the distant past, and was not well received, but some big things have changed since then: there are now way more entries, authors no longer have to remain silent during judging, and judges are free to post reviews throughout the judging period. After the competition wraps, we’ll ask how this worked for everyone.

This year, we’ve made it easier to vote by placing your rating and opportunity to leave feedback in the same space where you see cover art, game blurb, and download/online play options. Hopefully that makes things a little quicker and more convenient.

Reminders & Tips

You don’t have to play all the games. Really! You only need to play five games in order to vote. You can certainly play more, but you don’t have to play any more than five.

We give you a lot of information to help you choose which games to play. Most games come with additional information such as genre, estimated play time, and platform type, to help you pick which games might be more to your taste or mood.

You can randomize your ballot. The ballot is now randomized by default (rather than alphabetical, though you can sort it alphabetically by title if you’d prefer). You can either randomize it in a stable way (use ‘Personal Shuffle’ so that the order, though random, is always the same for you), or you can just press the ‘Random Shuffle’ button over and over. If you’re overwhelmed with where to start, just hit ‘Random Shuffle’ and play the first five games that look good to you. Come back later if you want to play more (but you don’t have to – vote for five games, and you’re good to go!).

And because your humble organizer never did get to that promised blog post about the results of the Are There Too Many Games? Survey, I’ll address some of that info here. I know some of you are curious, and may have missed us talking about this on Twitter.

We ran a survey after last year’s competition to ask people how they felt about the number of games, which has been growing a lot these past few years.

A line-graph of IFComp entries over the years

Eighty-four people responded to the survey. Of those, nearly half (41.7%) of respondents said “the more games the merrier,” and most (72.7%) said that they didn’t feel there were too many games. Only 10.7% percent of people stated that they felt that the number of games last year was overwhelming.

We did receive a lot of ideas for how to make the number of games easier on judges. Some of these are already implemented (see the reminders & tips above), some we are still considering but could not implement this year. Some are things we are not presently willing to entertain, such as ways to reduce the number of entries through entrance fees, curated pre-judging, multiple rounds of judging with brackets, splitting the comp by genre or platform, or hosting multiple iterations of the IFComp per year.

One thing that many survey participants brought up (and with which we whole-heartedly agree) is that we need a better judge-to-author ratio. You can help us with that! Promote the heck out of all these free games! Take the time to show a friend or family member how to explore these games, and encourage them to play just five. We will also be trying to promote the competition in new ways, but all of us working together will be more successful. If you have specific ideas for this you’d like to share, please email us at

Thanks to everyone who made this year's competition possible, and that’s a lot of people. Authors, family and friends of authors, beta testers, judges, and all the amazing volunteer IFComp team members.

I look forward to hosting the awards ceremony on Twitch again this year. Please hold the date of Saturday, December 5, 2020 on your calendars. We anticipate the stream will be at 3:30pm Eastern.

Jacqueline Ashwell,
October 2020

A complete summary of all this year’s competition entries, including each game’s cover art, blurb, and author information, is available on the website. We encourage you to visit this page to get a full overview of the directory you’ve downloaded.

You can also read an offline “cover sheet” with an alphabetized index of all this year's games, including their author-supplied cover art and blurbs.

If you’re reading this on or before November 29, 2020, then that page will contain all the links and information you need to join the IFComp as a judge – and we hope that you do! As stated above, judging the IFComp simply means playing and rating at least five entries by November 29. Anyone can rate these games, and more judges make a better comp.

After that date, the above link will take you to IFComp 2020’s permanent results page. From there, you will still have the opportunity to rate and critique these games on the IFDB, which houses community-reviewed entries for all the IFComp games going all the way back to 1995 (as well as every other IF work of note ever written).

If you’re playing these games on or before November 29, 2020 with the intent to rate them as a judge – well, first of all, excellent! We’re sincerely glad to have your help.

Please take a moment to read the rules for judges before digging in. You may also wish to read the FAQ and the judging guidelines. We ask especially that you keep in mind that your ratings must reflect only your experiences of the the first two hours of play (at most).

When you’re ready to vote, head on back to the online ballot and use the controls found there to enter your ratings before 11:59 PM Eastern time on November 29. You can revisit that page as often as you need to, right up until the deadline. So long as you submit ratings for at least five games, we will count (and very much appreciate) your contribution.

Join the conversation about the competition and its entries in the IF community forums. You can trade hints, share your thoughts about the games, and read other folks’ reviews.

Of course, we also encourage you to discuss the games on social media, blogs, or wherever else you’d like. If you have a website where you plan to write reviews, consider adding it to the Planet IF news aggregator so that more of your fellow interactive fiction fans can follow along!

The official Twitter hashtag for IFcomp is, as always, #IFComp.

As the competition progresses, we’ll post pertinent links and other news and updates to both the official IFComp twitter account and our own blog.

Finally, if you need to contact the organizer for any reason, feel free to email, or send a direct message to @IFComp on Twitter.

Jacqueline Ashwell organized the 2020 Annual Interactive Fiction Competition.

Competition staff includes curator Line Hollis, prize coordinator Thomas Mack, and technical lead Jason McIntosh.

Additional contributions to the IFComp software this year came from Dan Fabulich, Adam Herzog, Mark Musante, Dan Shiovitz, and Dannii Willis.

This year's logo artwork is by Rebecca Thomas.

Special thanks to IFTF's IFComp advisory committee and, of course, to all authors, judges, prize-donors, reviewers, and other participants of the Annual Interactive Fiction Competition.