Interactive Fiction Rating Methods

There's no hard and fast rule as to which numbers should be assigned on what basis for each game, and I've found in discussing this with people that I rate games on a different, perhaps more generous scale, than others. These have generally been my criteria throughout the years I've been voting in the competition, though I only wrote them down and really started referring to them consistently in 2004.

So, should you be curious, here's my methodology:

Entries I simply did not enjoy:

     1:   This entry was terrible, horrible, not very good at all, flat out bad. It should never have been entered in the comp and this person should probably be tracked down and made to pay for wasting our time.

     2:   This entry was substandard, either buggy as hell or full of grammar and spelling errors. It also should never have been entered into the comp, and the author should likewise be tracked down and made to pay.

     3:   This entry was solid, at least in terms of coding and grammar, but the writing was quite below par or the story was unclear or the goal was unknown, or something to that effect. Basically, what would make for an acceptable first attempt, but it still felt like a waste of my time and shouldn't be in the competition.

Entries that were okay, but still weren't my thing:

     4:   Now we're in a sort of No Man's Land. The writing was okay, the plot clear, but there were serious issues that kept me from enjoying myself. I wouldn't go so far as to throttle them for wasting my time, however.

     5:   Still in No Man's Land. Things were solid, but just average; the piece wasn't quite good enough to make it into the category of "Games Jacqueline Enjoyed In This Comp," i.e. the games that received a six or higher.

Entries I enjoyed:

     6:   Now we're talking. A six isn't a game I'm just wild over, but I didn't not like it. It's definitely comp-worthy and I'm glad it was here for me to play. Secretly, I wish for a day when everything in the comp is at least a six.

     7:   I like a seven quite a bit, but it's not the sort of game I would necessarily ooh and ahh about to my friends.

Entries I enjoyed a great deal:

     8:   Anything I rate an eight or above I really and truly enjoyed. Eights are, for me, generally quirky and amusing, a worthwhile and entertaining expenditure of time. Well written, well implemented. Worth telling my friends about.

     9:   Nines and tens are pieces that really affect me. They're pieces that quickly acquire and hold my attention, without distracting me excessively with disambiguation or mimesis-breaking glitches.

     10:  There's a very subtle difference between a nine and a ten. A nine is excellent; a ten is pretty much perfect. Unlike some of my friends, I don't go back at the end of the comp and give my most favorite game a ten; quite often my favorite(s) only receive a nine.

Thus far, in the three years I've been voting in the competition, I've given only one ten (to Photograph, by Steve Evans, which I can not say enough good things about, though others felt it was less than perfect). There are other games out there that I would rank a ten, but they either weren't part of a comp or, at least, not part of a comp in which I voted. Anchorhead would be another ten, for instance.

ETA 2016: Twelve years later, these are still the metrics I use. I've given out a few other 10s, but not many.