Interactive Short Fiction Competition

Deadline: February 15, 2008 

The purpose of this competition is to promote the creation of short, engaging, interactive works of short fiction.  The hope is that this will foster a body of work that will be fun and accessible for people who are new to interactive fiction, especially middle school students.

Mark Engelberg is the sponsor and judge of this contest.  He will award $50 to the entry that, at his sole discretion, best fits the design criteria.

Design Criteria

  1. The entry must be written in TADS 3 or Inform 7.  
  2. The source code must be included with the submission, so that students may study and learn from these games.
  3. The entry must be in English.
  4. The approximate length of gameplay for a beginner player should be under 1 hour.
  5. The game map should be sufficiently simple that the player is not required to draw a map.  20 locations or less is recommended.
  6. Emphasis should be on interactivity, not long pages of prose.  Specifically, most descriptions should be only one paragraph in length.  The introduction and other key dramatic sequences can be longer, but still should be no more than about three paragraphs in length.
  7. The game must have a clearly defined goal, and the player should understand this goal from the introduction, or from information given in the first several turns of gameplay.
  8. The game must have at least one puzzle.  (The definition of 'puzzle' is intentionally left vague here, but most people would agree that IF generally falls into two categories: puzzle-based and puzzleless.  This contest is for puzzle-based interactive fiction).
  9. The language and content should be appropriate for a middle school audience.
  10. It should not be possible for the player to reach a state in which the game is unwinnable.  Note that this rules out games in which the player character can die.
  11. The game should have a "polished" feel, providing entertaining and reasonable responses to a wide range of sensible inputs.  
  12. And last but not least, the game should be exciting and fun to play.

Intellectual Property Details

The games remain the intellectual property of their respective authors.  Unless otherwise specified, it will be assumed that all submissions are licensed with the Creative Commons - Attribution license, which basically means that anyone can do anything they want with your game as long as they give you credit.  Authors are encouraged to mark their works with a more specific Creative Commons license if they wish to clarify the ways in which their works can be reused (for example, a non-commercial and/or no derivatives license).

Contact Information 

Direct submissions and questions to, before February 15, 2008.  The winner will be announced by March 15, 2008 on this webpage.