This report summarizes the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation (IFTF)’s activity from January 2021 through December 2021, including a high-level accounting of the organization’s financial income and expenditures. As a public-service organization that many people entrust with their time, attention, and money, IFTF presents this report in an effort to show how it has applied its community’s investments over the past calendar year.
IFTF president Jason McIntosh wrote this report based on IFTF’s internal financial records, public blog posts, and consultations with various other IFTF staff. Jason authored all text except where noted otherwise. All monetary numbers that appear in this report are expressed in U.S. dollars.
IFTF took 2021 to reorganize amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s second year.
While the decision not to hold a NarraScope event in 2021 led to an overall muted public tone, a new program to manage the IFDB joined IFTF’s other programs that continued to maintain and improve IF technology services year-round.
IFTF significantly modified the organization’s core structure, inviting several new directors onto the board, and establishing a new steering council.
The organization spent around $3,500 in 2021 on various services that power its programs, and distributed more than $6,500 in IFComp prize money. The community donated generously to cover these costs, leaving IFTF’s accounts with a net gain of nearly $3,500.
Each public-service program within IFTF is steered by an autonomous committee. This section contains summaries of 2021 committee activities, written by each such committee’s chairs. It also includes hour-totals of volunteer effort contributed by each committee’s membership over the year.
Reported by Justin Bortnick, Conference Committee co-chair
The conference program decided to not hold its NarraScope conference in 2021. It instead used this opportunity to reboot, ending the year with a new committee, and plans for a new NarraScope in 2022.
Reported by Judith Pintar, Education Committee chair
The education committee is greatly energized by NarraScope, and by planning workshops and bootcamps for that event, so the year without NarraScope was a down cycle for our committee. We doubled the size of the committee, and are looking forward to NarraScope 2022.
Reported by Andrew Plotkin, IF Archive Committee chair
The IF Archive did not see any major changes in 2021. About 300 games and other files were uploaded to the Archive. (71 as part of IFComp, plus about 240 other files.)
Reported by Jacqueline Ashwell, IF Archive Committee chair
The 27th annual IFComp saw a slight (and not unwelcome) decline in the number of contest entries as compared to the prior, record-setting year of 2020, with “only” 71 entries, making it the fifth busiest IFComp in history.
The IFComp Colossal Fund raised $10,396, 80% of which was dedicated to the 47 authors who qualified for a cash prize. 26 non-cash prizes were also offered by donors and distributed to authors.
Reported by Dannii Willis, IntFiction Forum Committee chair
The Interactive Fiction Community Forum has seen slow but steady growth over 2021. It sees about 500 active users a month, and in recent months has reached 2,000 posts a month, not including the spike in activity during IFComp season.
We’re proud to be a place where so many people are coming to discuss IF, authoring systems including Inform, Twine, TADS, Dialog, ZIL, and Adventuron, and to host private discussion spaces for other IFTF committees.
Reported by Dan Fabulich, IntFiction Forum Committee chair
In 2021, we officially formed the IFDB program, adopting the IFDB website from its creator, Mike Roberts.
We vastly improved site performance and sorting by ratings, as well as offering “Play On-line” buttons for more games. (98 of the top 100 free games on IFDB now have “Play On-line” buttons.) You can see more of our handiwork at https://ifdb.org/news.
Reported by Chris Klimas, Twine Committee chair
2021 saw most of the committee’s activity centered around the Twine Cookbook. The Twine wiki was retired in favor of the cookbook, with an archive of its contents uploaded to the IF Archive. A new project, to create a print edition of the Cookbook, was also begun in 2021. Planning for this project occurred in 2021 and production has begun in 2022.
The trademark matter mentioned in last year’s transparency report has not yet been fully resolved, though progress has been made. No legal action was taken in 2021.
In 2021, Dan Cox left the Twine committee, and the committee added a member of the Twine community who prefers to go by the name litrouke, as well as board members Jedidjah Julia Noomen and Lydia Pauly.
IFTF made several significant changes to its core structure during 2021:
The board of directors welcomed five new directors from a variety of backgrounds, nearly doubling the board’s size. This represents the largest influx of fresh perspectives to the board since IFTF’s founding in 2016.
A new steering council, comprising all of IFTF’s program chairs and officers, takes care of the organization’s day-to-day affairs. This frees the board to focus on longer-term strategic matters.
The board elected Liza Daly as IFTF’s first vice-president, and established a limit of two consecutive two-year terms for all directors.
In 2021, IFTF took in $13,827.69, and spent $10,302.48, for a net of $3,425.21.
At year’s end, IFTF’s bank accounts held a total of $13,965.97.
The organization did not carry any accounts-payable balance into 2022. (That is, we didn’t owe anyone any money.)
Modest gifts from individual donors, both one-time and recurring, continue to act as IFTF’s financial backbone.
Individuals and small companies donated $13,827.69 to IFTF in 2021. Of that total (and with transaction fees subtracted):
$9,521.54 was earmarked for IFComp, via The Colossal Fund fundraiser. (This number is lower than the total amount that Colossal Fund raised, because it rolls the previous year’s unclaimed prize money into the current year’s fund.)
$3,621.81 went into IFTF’s general fund.
$547.47 was earmarked for Twine, on the donors’ request.
$9.16 was earmarked for NarraScope, on the donors’ request.
Of individual donations, $35.68 came in via the PayPal Giving Fund, and $74.45 via the Amazon Smile program. All other donations took the form of direct gifts from donors.
IFTF gained $127.71 from sales of the Inform Designer’s Manual (DM4).
IFTF spent $10,302.48 in 2021:
$6,655.19 (65%) covered IFComp Colossal Fund cash prizes and support.
This figure includes a $25.10 reimbursement for shipping the physical Golden Banana of Discord trophy.
$2,297 (22%) paid for all our programs’ various infrastructure costs.
This includes server hosting, domain transfers and renewals, and the use of online services such as Cloudflare and Amazon S3.
It also paid for the organization’s physical post-office box in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
$1,249.99 (12%) paid for various professional services:
$680.00 covered the annual premium of IFTF’s D&O insurance policy.
$315.00 paid for other legal consultation.
$254.99 went towards commissioned artwork for IFComp.
$100 (1%) paid a NarraScope speaker honorarium, left over from 2020.
And we spent thirty cents on refunding an accidental donation.