I finally discover the results of Introcomp 2011 some weeks after the contest had closed. Yet, it turns out that IntFiction posted them the day after the contest closed. Interesting. I don’t blame anyone for hanging out exclusively at Intfiction now that I’m convinced that RAIF is dead, but what does it mean when something posted there spreads very slowly if at all? It means that IF itself is imploding.
This was inevitable in a “community” that consists of serial abusers and a sea of people who have little to no social skills, at the best. I still wonder how the great games of Infocom and others ended up having their torch carried by a forum unknown in the larger gaming world. Something went wrong. Something went very wrong.
It’s weird and dissociative to write about this in the past tense, as if there was no future for IF. I don’t mean to state that, but the present is pretty grim. What are the flagship sites for IF “community”? Intfiction, the IFmud (though they certainly don’t welcome people), and IFdb. If you’re generous, you could count Ifwiki. That’s all.
Non-interactive sites do add some to the community, so places like Baf’s guide, and SPAG, do provide a service. Individual bloggers add to the community even less, as it’s their blog and everyone else is just a commenter at best. Let’s not kid ourselves. Publisher and commenter is the largest power imbalance possible in the online world. Community is a where people come together as equals and there is no equality when you have no power to preserve your own words. That inequality is another good reason to not bother with comments at all, unless you’re a masochist who loves drinking textual battery acid every day.
With the “community” withering and blowing away, the spread of IF itself is imperiled. If no-one bothers to disseminate the happenings in the IF world (and no, the IF Planet is not sufficient), then what do you have? A dying, shrinking art form, as fewer and fewer people know about IF, and so fewer people start works, even fewer finish, and those that do end up wondering, “What was the point?” The fact that the self-crowned “leaders” waste their time playing intellectual masturbation games at snooty avante-garde events only shoves IF further and further from the spotlight and into the category of curio. IF has only made a splash due to the tireless work of people not part of its power structure. Think Lost Pig. Think 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery, and Textfyre.
As IF withers, it follows the sad trajectory of the media dinosaurs, for the same reasons. Arrogance, elitism, hypocrisy, insecurity, and a swarm of addled haters that reflexively defend everything their rulers have decided. They both become less and less relevant to ordinary people, and dying, they become acrimonious. Only silos remain, until the lack of community causes those silos to close up shop and move on.
It breaks my heart to see IF decay and fade.