I was out on the IFDB, which has improved a few notches since my initial visitation, although it’s clear the juvenile attitudes of some people remain. In any case, I noted that often game entries bragged about winning such-and-such position in such-and-such contest, utterly unaware how much like rotted wreaths such approbations appear now! Yes, this game may have won 3rd place in contest Blah, ten years ago, but so what? Given that IF contests are one of the most incestuous affairs ever created, I’m not so sure that the opinions of a very small number of people really count for much, and their opinions rheumed with age count for even less. Reading these old braggadocios is like listening to someone in their 30′s brag about being voted “most likely to succeed” in high school.
Plus, because these contests are such incestuous affairs, some games will be crucified without any possible check or balance, because all contests rely upon the goodwill of the voters. If a bunch of people gang up on a particular author, his or her works will be the ones that crawl in at 200th place or something. This is an unacknowledged flaw which continues from year to year in all IF contests.
Not only that, but the inherent nature of a contest itself is that someone must win, and someone else must lose. I’ve always found it strange that people celebrate such a construct and then use it to lure people into submitting to the contest. Who would celebrate their chance to lose? Because the odds are (if you believe in such things) or common sense will tell you that you won’t win. Only one person will win, and unless you craft some freakin’ amazing stuff, you might as well not bother. Even if you do win, the honor is a little less than it’s cracked up to be.
I think awards are the way to go, instead of contests, and the more awards we have, the better. It would be wonderful to see different groups reward games on the basis of different criteria — say best SF game, or best portrayal of faith, or strongest female main character, and so on. Think of the art world, and the literature enclave, and all the varied awards that they have. IF, as a kind of art, should do the same — if it ever grows up.