Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Erins! - Discussion

In case you didn't already know, the Erins are annual fan-voted awards that honour the year's best AIF games and authors. They started in 2002, but went on hiatus after 2009 due to the downturn in the number of games being produced. They were brought back in slimmed down form last year. That experiment was successful, so here we go again!

In order to establish the Erins 2.0 as a going concern I thought it might be a good idea to establish some rules going forward (especially as the original rules seem to be missing in action). Note that the following is all provisional. Suggestions for improvements would be welcome.


For the purposes of this year's iteration of the Erins, entries must fulfil the following criteria:

1. They must be adult games where the player uses text-based gameplay to advance the narrative.

2. They must have been originally released as a full game during 2015.

3. They must have been published (ie. posting a link to the game) on the aifarchive Yahoo! group or AIF Central blog by the author, or with the author's permission.

Authors can choose to remove their game from consideration.

Where there is some uncertainty as to whether or not a game is eligible, a decision shall be made by the person(s) organising the Erins.


The categories are:

Game of the Year - for the 'best' (however you choose to define that) game released in 2015; open to all entries

Best Character - for the 'best' (however you choose to define that) character to appear in an AIF game in 2015

Best Sex Scene - for the 'best' (however you choose to define that) sex scene to appear in an AIF game in 2015

Best New Author - for the 'best' (however you choose to define that) new author to release a game in 2015; open to any author who hasn't released a game previously

The Badman Memorial Award (aka Hall of Fame) - for the person (or persons) who have made the 'greatest' (however you choose to define that) contribution to AIF; open to anyone not already inducted in previous years

[As suggested last time, if more than one person gets a significant proportion of the Hall of Fame votes they will all be inducted.]


On that basis, the nominees are:

Game of the Year

Coffee Date by Lamont Sanford
Condomocium by Octarine Flash
Enticing Ella by BeanBean
Hail to the King by Minterlint
Let Me In by BBBen
Teacher's Pet by Dr Realgood
The Heir by Efon
The Lost Hound by Palaverous
Working Man by Ice
You've Got Mail by Brokenknight

Best Character

Any character appearing in a game nominated for Game of the Year

Best Sex Scene

Any sex scene appearing in a game nominated for Game of the Year

Best New Author

Dr Realgood
Octarine Flash

Hall of Fame

Anyone, except the previous inductees: Badman, Choices, NewKid, Christopher Cole, Scarlet Herring, A.Bomire, BBBen, GoblinBoy, or Purple Dragon.

[If there are any eligible games I've missed, please let me know. Conversely, if you don't want your game to be included (for whatever reason) please let me know.]


The voting period provisionally starts on 24 January 2016 and finishes on the close of 7 February 2016 (all times GMT).

Voting for the Game of the Year and Best New Author awards will use the instant-runoff voting system. Voting for Best Character, Best Sex Scene and the Badman Memorial Award will be a write-in vote.

[In future I'd like to start the voting earlier so as to make sure the Erins don't distract from any games released in January or February.

Google Forms looks like it can handle preference voting, which several people asked for last time. However, it's kind of clunky and the votes will still have to be totalled manually (which is why you'll be restricted to three preferences), so if anyone has a more elegant alternative it would be eagerly accepted.]


The winner gets... to win!

[It would be nice if winners got some sort of customised award graphic, as in days of yore, but I simply don't have the artistic ability for that. If anyone with more talent could provide something suitable it would be very much appreciated.]


  1. Defining AIF with any accuracy is a bit hard. The somewhat vague reference you made is probably best, but it seems to vary person to person. For instance, I tend to think of games where you only make choices that rely heavily on graphics more of an interactive novel, even if they don't follow the strict anime style.

    But using that explanation, Coffee Date wouldn't be included, and I don't know that it would be fair. But at the same time, what separates that game from, say, one of the styles often throw up on Shark Lagoon. They both are more or less CYOA games with graphics, only Coffee Date was made with a program often used in standard text-based games.

    As for the new author bit, I think that is fair. Otherwise, new authors may feel screwed having released a fun, quick game and then being unable to win new author after having released a much more impressive game later.

    Everything else seems in order. The only possible category I would even consider adding would be Best NPC (or maybe a bit more correctly expressed 'Favorite NPC'), but as it stands it doesn't seem necessary.

    1. I think the reason there aren't any categories like "best npc" is because they would require nominations first, which is extra work. Maybe a couple of write-in categories would work instead, like with the lifetime award?

    2. Yeah, probably so. With fewer games I suppose a list, especially only including main characters, wouldn't be huge, but a simple write in would work.

      Only issue being I guess that you then would have to manually look through them all to tally (people giving different descriptions, typos/wrong names, etc.)

      I don't think it is a big deal though not having it this year, just something fun people might want to talk about. Then again, considering the general lack of discussion, I doubt it would make any difference and the added work wouldn't yield much, so best probably to skip it for the time being and just leave it in consideration for next year, depending how things go.

    3. "Defining AIF with any accuracy is a bit hard"

      Yeah, practically speaking the definition that the Erins used to use was "released on aifarchive". Now that aifarchive isn't as relevant as it was, we need a more universal definition.

      "I think the reason there aren't any categories like "best npc" is because they would require nominations first, which is extra work"

      That, and the fact that I think it's better to get the Erins out of the way early so that they don't distract from any game releases.

      "Only issue being I guess that you then would have to manually look through them all to tally"

      At the risk of sounding selfish, this is an important consideration for me.

      However, I'm kind of torn over what approach would work better. I know that in past years it was sometimes the case that the scene/NPC I thought should have won wasn't even nominated. So maybe having a text box is the way to go.

    4. Hopefully it didn't come off sounding like the issue of looking through all the things manually was a non-issue -- if so, that isn't what I meant.

      I meant it as the primary concern. Having a program tally up choices isn't bad, but cycling through possibly hundreds of variations isn't particularly entertaining.

      I suppose another idea would be simply listing all major players through a choice (radio buttons, probably), but that would require tracking them throughout the year or going back through saved games / quick runs and might get overwhelming.

      Though nominations can leave some choices out, I suppose that could be an argument to make sure and let your voice be heard if you think a particular NPC/scene should be in.

      Again though, I don't see a lot of authors voicing their concerns yet, so it might not be a big deal to skip out on it. That said, if you do decide to go the text box route and don't feel like sifting through the answers, let me know. If you don't mind sharing access to the response form / user account, or sending me the file, I can do that part for you.

    5. "Hopefully it didn't come off sounding like the issue of looking through all the things manually was a non-issue"

      Not at all. I was thinking more of my desire to avoid any unnecessary work (aka laziness). Accuracy is also a consideration, especially since there's a number of games this year that I haven't played. Having a second set of eyes when it comes to identifying which vote applies to what would be handy. Despite those issues, I think having a write in vote for best character and best sex scene is worth doing.

      Re minicomp games, I think there's something to be said for allowing them to be considered for Game of the Year if the author wants them to be. The main potential drawback is the potential for making the voting form unwieldy if there's 16 games to choose from, which is another argument in favour of having a nomination committee to whittle things down first. I think what I'll do is make minicomp games opt-in, with the caveat that if you enter your game for consideration it's also your shot at winning Best New Author. I'll try and send out emails to that effect (and to the other authors in case they want to opt out) this weekend.

    6. I find opt-in systems, particularly related to porn (and if they seem self-aggrandizing) can be a little ineffective. I think it would be better to just decide one way or another.

      If you want to whittle down the number but save the trouble of a nomination committee you could just allow the top three to be in contention automatically, but no others.

  2. I don't know if we can consider teacher pet the true first game of dr realgood, this game seemed only a try to learn, a simple exercise, but maybe it's him that have to say if this is true or not.

  3. I think we can remove the minicomp/other competition provision. Not that there's a huge impact this time, given that the minicomps weren't held last year, but it doesn't really make much sense. The Erins are supposed to be highlighting excellence in the AIF community, which is pretty small as it is. Excluding games people write for minicomps or similar comps only further limit the number of potential entrants. And if a competition game was really excellent, why shouldn't it deserve to win an Erin as well?

    It's like saying films that win awards at film festivals should be ineligible for an Oscar nomination.

  4. 1. They must be AIF (i.e. an adult game that generates textual narrative in response to user input)

    by this definition to be available i think Coffee Date should be removed from the list unfortunately. you will have text in the game, but the response from the girl is sound only. Also coffee date offers choices in the form off press number and continue.

    Now that said, my definition of AIF is like what it stands for

    Adult: for adults, sex. Non-sexual but horror and the likes would be Mature
    Interactive: Interaction with the game, choices in some way. Visual novels do not apply in my opinion, cause the player just needs to press a button to "un-pause".
    Fiction: Story, with a decent text amount

    based on my definition Coffee date gets to stay, but there are also some other games with authors that i would nominate myself. Chaotic and his new recruit Dsp3000 (if said right), Tlaero (not Mortze only did artwork and his own game not finished yet). Wanted to say the Lesson of Passion games, but to my feeling to little story.

    2. They must have been published as a complete game during 2015: Above nominees still roll.

    3. WEll i see it as point 3. Complete games that were released on aifarchive are entered in the Erins by default. However, the author can request that their game not be entered if they wish.

    Okay, my nominees are not listed by default. At least i think they aren't on Yahoo. But be honest, Yahoo is not user friendly. Make account - attach cellphone number to said account. And looks messy.

    Now i quote from Deus Exlibris latest blog, which basically strenghtens my nominee for Tlaero

    "A new development has been the number of AIF authors using Patreon. Off the top of my head, Palmer, BBBen, Palaverous, Splendid Ostrich, Wolfschadowe, Mortze, and Tlaero have all set up Patreon pages in the last year, and some of them have received considerable support."

    That all said, could we the players nominate non-yahoo authors / games or should the authors themselves request for the Erins if they desire?

    1. "Visual novels do not apply in my opinion"

      Why do HTML dating games meet your definition of AIF, but visual novels don't? The gameplay is very similar. In both the player has to make decisions that affect how the narrative plays out. In both the player sometimes has to just press a button to keep things moving.

      "Also coffee date offers choices in the form off press number and continue"

      So do most CYOA games. Should they be excluded as well? Visual novels and HTML dating games are essentially CYOA. You select from a limited number of choices (when you get a choice). Why does it make a difference that they're not numbered?

      "Now i quote from Deus Exlibris latest blog"

      You're quoting me rather selectively there, given that in that post I also listed only ten AIF games as having been released in 2015, and explained and confirmed that decision several times in the comments.

      "That all said, could we the players nominate non-yahoo authors / games or should the authors themselves request for the Erins if they desire"

      Personally, I think that authors should nominate themselves. Not everyone wants their game to voted on and discussed by people outside the original intended audience.

      More generally, as the organiser of this year's iteration of the Erins, I think you have to draw the line somewhere to stop the voting process from being unwieldy. I consider HTML dating games and visual novels to be AIF, broadly speaking, but I chose to draw the line in the same place that it's been drawn in previous years.

      I borrowed the definition I used above from IFwiki, but clearly it isn't precise enough, so I'll try and update it.

  5. Visual novels: like i said my opnion

    Coffee date: if its a CYOA game, why is it concluded on the list and others are not?

    Your quote: Yup stated in the comments, the conclusion for the games that were released was that they appeared on the Archive

    Nominations: So if Tlaero or any other would ask for a nomination, would she get on the list?

    The conclusion i draw at the moment is, what is AIF and what isn't is all based around the idea that there is no clear definition. And that it all leads to subjection and on what site one what does appear.

    1. "Visual novels: like i said my opnion"

      That's kind of the problem. If your definition is based on your gut instinct that one thing is AIF but another, very similar, thing isn't, then it's difficult to apply it more broadly.

      Not that my definition is a great deal better. I started out by thinking about what kinds of games should be eligible for the Erins this year (NB. *not* what games are or aren't AIF), and decided that they should be the same kinds of games that have been eligible in previous years. From there I looked for criteria that fitted that definition.

      The result isn't perfect, but it does at least provide criteria for assessing whether something is or isn't eligible for this year's Erins. That said, it does elide various issues. For example, is it fair to compare minicomp games against games that weren't made with size restrictions? Is it fair to compare games that were made with the advantage of financial support against those that weren't?

      I guess the question is whether we proceed with the Erins, using the definition I've proposed (flawed as it may be), or we postpone them until we can thrash out a better definition?

    2. Well with the definition you use "coffee date" would not be eligible in all fairness due to the sound responses instead of text. Still that doesn't take it away that its a great AIF.

      I think you wanted to have a Erins happen, that you might have rushed into it. If your reopening it yourself, you might as well think of your own criteria or with help of others. And while i have my own opinion on it and i am going to regret to say this. But either continue with the Erins as it is, even if its fairly limited. And remember that is why the original Erins went on Hiatus, there were so little games to enter the Erins.

      Or postpone them and get some feedback on what AIF actually is, the sources, split-off in winning categories if decided that games which are more graphic heavy can compete. Example sex-scene, graphically and written. Small game, big game category.

      Now one could ask the entire community, but with no clear definition one might argue one is not part of said community. Or only authors like BBBen, Palmer etc. Or if he now for some miraculous reason would turn up again like last year, Goblinboy.

      And on the mini comps. Correct me if i am wrong, but i only heard about the SNEEZE last year, and i believe only 2 games entered. For that reason alone i think they should have another shot. Now more reasons could be. You set the rules, said before maybe new categories, even more prominent awards in music and movies have for the little things awards and finally it gives extra games available for the future in cases we/you get a year where only few games normally would be available for the Erins. Better keep the Erins going then, then going on Hiatus again.

      I type way to much.

    3. PS. Forgot to mention in all my posts the mentioning regarding to Yahoo etc. The fact that there are AIF games in adrift mostly, which are primarily in foreign languages like French. And they most likely stay at one spot like Sharks Lagoon, cause they can keep speaking French there, next to English.

      And that is the last i will mention until tomorrow, unless there is nothing else to mention of course. Of to lay my head on the pillow.

    4. Definition of AIF: Obviously we can go into great detail on this, and have in the past,

      I'll give my definition which is based primarily on the games that have been within this community:

      AIF: An erotic story or game where the narrative is conveyed primarily by text and involves the player/reader frequently making decisions that progress the plot.

      That's just my take, but I feel if someone is going to run an Awards event they get to pick the definition.

    5. Yeah, I've also had several stabs at answering that question on my own blog, and I would broadly agree with your definition.

      The problem (as I've belatedly realised) is that "What is AIF?" is the wrong question to be asking here. The question that we really need to answer is "What AIF should be eligible for the Erins?"

      I think the answer to that comes down to significance and practicality.

      Firstly, the Erins only have significance to members of aifarchive. If, say, Tlaero won an Erin, would she care? Would she even have any idea what it was? Probably not, so why do it? For that reason, I think it makes sense for the Erins to only be eligible to people for whom it would mean something.

      Secondly, there are a lot of games out there that could be considered AIF. Visual novels, HTML dating games, Flash games, Java games, RPG Maker games. Assembling a complete list of all the AIF released in a single year is completely impractical.

      For those reasons, my answer would be that the Erins should be restricted to those games that have been published on aifarchive (ie. the same criteria that the Erins have historically used).

      Unfortunately, that's not a long-term solution given that aifarchive is not what it was. 2015 was aifarchive's least active year on record, and judging by this month it's doubtful that 2016 will be much better.

    6. I would say that looking towards what should be eligible is definitely the way to go. It has been hammered home already, but the words that make up AIF pretty much lay out what it is - and that is a broad, encompassing term. Much like trying to explain what an RPG game is and then breaking it down tighter as you add words to it (action rpg, first person rpg, etc.).

      Not to represent fracturing an already small community, but I think realistically the easiest way to do so is as planned. If you posted your game on aifarchives, here, or the reddit channel (basically all parts of the same general group), then automatically being entered seems fine. That stops the limitation of JUST using aifarchives, and if someone felt as a member of our community, surely they would post about it (whether a link to their download or an individual blog).

      That said, if someone from other areas were interested and a part of the community and they wanted their game they made to be a part of it, you won't see any complaints from me. I just think it inherently has significance here more so than elsewhere. People that straddle many sites might enjoy it, but those that stick only to their own (whether it be SL, hypnotists, etc.) likely won't care.

  6. No mention of a text parser on this page? For me, AIF is a game that relies (heavily) on input into a text parser. This is why cyoa's don't immerse me. While I enjoy them, along with some HTML's and visual novels, they don't immerse me in the way a text adventure does.

    Easy answer: If you take out the graphics, is the game still playable?


    1. I agree. A text parser is integral to the definition of AIF. If I don't get to type "X TITS" at least once, it ain't AIF.

    2. Archer Fiftheen great link, forgot about that post.

      "No mention of a text parser on this page? For me, AIF is a game that relies (heavily) on input into a text parser. This is why cyoa's don't immerse me. While I enjoy them, along with some HTML's and visual novels, they don't immerse me in the way a text adventure does.

      Easy answer: If you take out the graphics, is the game still playable?


      Anonymous16 January 2016 at 13:31

      I agree. A text parser is integral to the definition of AIF. If I don't get to type "X TITS" at least once, it ain't AIF."

      Again by this criteria, Coffee date is not eligible (due to sound instead of written text). But it is an amazing AIF, and it deserves to be on the list.

      "Yeah, I've also had ....... 2016 will be much better.

      Lets go with the restriction to the archive then, to just hold an Erins and the rest of the year lets think of other criteria and the outside of the Erins.
      And for the question would Tlaero or anyone else hold any value to an Erin? Who knows. Does anyone that is nominated by default hold any value to it? I think people who want to run in the Erins should apply on their own and not just by default, that way you know who hold value to it.

      And on the subject again of who run in minicomps, yes still include them. The more the merrier. I know from myself if i become 4th place on something i rather be it 4 out of 16 then 4 out of 4.

    3. AIF (Adult Interactive Fiction) I think there is the terminology right there, its not AWIF (Adult Written Interactive Fiction)

      Interactive does not and should not be Written only, if you interact with the game then its interactive.

      Fiction means its made up, not real, But it tells a story.

      Put them together and its simply telling a story that is influenced by player input. Whether that input is text, or clicking on a mouse (ie rags games, which simply eliminate the guess the verb element).

      Ultimately is it fun? does it immerse you into the tale? If so then I believe that is what makes IF.

      Requiring a text parser would make a game like Kings Quest when it first came out IF, but Kings Quest when they recreated in VGA not IF. Even though the same story just presented in a more modern form.

  7. I think that following the tradition and the choice done of the game in the post is the right thing to do, otherwise we won't have an erin.
    Only deciding what definition we have to vote would need much time (and how much people need to vote before we agree that the comunity has voted?), and we don't consider contamination.
    Coffee date is a bit to the edge is an evolution that go in direction to visual novel and like as tlaero, but seen as an evolution is ok to be here (personal opinion), for exemple of the two new palmer's games EH could be voted next year and PWU not.
    I think that who use time to do the awards can have a bit of freedom in the choice, otherwise we won't have any awards if we wait to agree all.
    But who say that the erin are the oscar and who parteciped in other competitions need to partecipate the same is a thing which I agree, maybe that game will do bad, because done with restrictive rules, but at least it can try.

  8. At the risk of sounding negative, I have to say that I think that trying to define AIF is a waste of effort. Even if someone did come up with a clear and concise definition of what is and isn't AIF, would everyone else be convinced by it? I'm inclined to doubt it. Human minds simply don't work that way, and previous attempts to achieve consensus in the AIF community back that conclusion up.

    In any case, the only time defining AIF actually matters is for deciding whether or not something gets a chance at winning an Erin. So if something is nominated for the Erins that you don't think is AIF, don't vote for it. If enough people agree with you (and with the number of votes we're talking about, it wouldn't take many), it won't win. Problem solved.