Things have changed a bit since last year! We've reviewed and updated the competition rules since you may have last read them. Note in particular these more significant changes from 2013:
Author Rule #1 now allows further (but not unlimited) freedom in re-using concepts found in copyrighted works.
Author Rule #3 no longer bars language-translations of already-released works from entry.
Please read the text of these rules, below, for full details.
The IFComp's rules help make sure that entrants, judges, and organizers agree on the purpose, scope, and spirit of the competition. We do our best to keep them simple.
That said, we take them seriously: those who violate a rule once will either be issued a warning or disqualified, at the discretion of the organizer. Those who violate a rule twice will be disqualified.
These rules may be changed as required by the organizer, who will note rule changes on the competition blog. In addition, the organizer has final say in all disputes regarding any ambiguities in the rules listed below.
If you have any questions regarding the rules, please contact the organizer.
Judges must play and rate at least five games for their ratings to be counted during a given competition year.
Judges may discuss the games during the judging period, but should be careful when doing so in a public forum. Make appropriate allowances to hide spoilers, and don't put spoilers in titles of posts or blog entries. You may freely use the intfiction.org forum set aside for public comp discussion.
A competition author may not judge the entries. That is, if you've entered any games this year, you may not vote in this year's IFComp.
That said, we encourage authors to participate in each year's "Miss Congeniality" side-contest, which grants authors the ability to vote for other authors' games.
Judges may not rate any games they have beta-tested.
Judges are not obligated to replay updated versions of entries they have already downloaded, started to play, or rated. A judge may play and rate an entry's originally submitted version or its most recent update, at their own discretion.
An entry may adapt characters, locations, concepts, or other aspects from a copyrighted work. That is to say: your entry may be a transformative work, whether parody, critique, or fan-fiction. However, you may not directly copy any portion of a copyrighted work into your own game, unless you have explicit written permission from the original work's rights holder. This holds true for text, images, music, or work in any other medium.
You may, for example, enter a game involving the further adventures of the characters from a novel that inspires you. You may not, however, fill your game with whole paragraphs of descriptive text or dialogue copied directly from that same novel, unless you have obtained permission in writing from the novel's copyright holder. Similarly, you may not freely set your game's cover art to a scan of the novel's own cover, nor create background music out of the soundtrack to the novel's film adaptation. (Or any other copyrighted work of music, for that matter.)
As in all other matters regarding these rules, the competition organizer is the ultimate arbiter for whether an entry that does build upon a copyrighted work meets this rule as intended. If you're not sure whether the entry you have in mind would qualify under this rule, please contact the organizer.
All entries must cost nothing for judges to play, no strings attached. While you retain the copyright to any games you enter, by entering you are granting the competition and the Interactive Fiction Archive the non-exclusive right to distribute your game for free, and granting judges the right to play your game for free. No shareware, donorware, commercial products, etc. may be entered.
All entries must be previously unreleased at the opening of voting. By "unreleased", we generally mean that a qualifying entry has never been widely distributed, sold, or made available for public play or download prior to the competition.
Note that this rule does not prevent you from having your game tested by a few beta-testers, as long as you know who each of those beta-testers are. The author must know who has had access to copies of their games before the competition. If you have placed a version of your game on the web, then the link to to play or download the game cannot have been publicly handed out.
The competition considers translations of previously-released works into another language as new works. Therefore, this rule does not disqualify such translations from entry.
If you are unsure whether your game meets this rule, please ask the organizer.
Authors of a competition entry may not discuss any of the entries in a public forum, blog, or social network during the voting period, nor may they use these media to canvass for votes. However, authors are free to link to or write about the existence of their entries as part of the larger IFComp.
In other words, feel free to encourage the public to participate in the competition, playing your entries and others, either casually or as judges. You may not, however, encourage people to vote for your entries other others. Beyond the allowed level of announcement, you may not engage in public discussion about any of the games -- including your own -- until the competition's voting period is over.
This rule does not disallow private correspondence about the competition. Furthermore, authors may use the authors-only discussion forums on intfiction.org without restriction.
Authors may enter at most three games per competition year.
Anyone who impersonates a contest official in any capacity related to the contest will be immediately disqualified and will be banned permanently from future involvement in the competition.