Donor Stories

People contribute money, time, and resources to IFTF for many reasons: to support interactive fiction creators, to acknowledge IF’s impact on their lives and careers, or just to see more games in the world like the ones they’ve loved.

We asked several of our donors and friends why they contribute to IFTF and collected their stories here. We’d love to hear yours too — please get in touch with us at if you have a story to tell.

Sean Barrett

Sean Barrett, author of Heroes, third place in IFComp 2001

When I first heard about the Colossal Fund] for the IFComp, I didn’t really think about donating to it, I guess because I felt like maybe these prizes would be too small to really matter to people, plus I had some lingering feelings from twenty years earlier when the community seemed to think cash prizes were tacky. Then I saw a tweet by Jon Ingold, who placed first in the 2001 IFComp with his game All Roads:

When I was a student, I won £50 and a free lunch by winning the IFComp, and it made a big difference to me.

— Jon Ingold (@joningold) July 25, 2017

I read this and realized I was being foolish. As a lifelong fan of this niche of sometimes experimental, sometimes strange, and almost always uncommercial software, I’ve been happy to contribute every year to the Colossal Fund to help make it more rewarding for people to create new interaction fiction and participate in the competition.

Stephen Granade

Stephen Granade is a physicist and an interactive narrative writer. While he’s best known for the story “Will Not Let Me Go”, he’s also written interactive fiction where you are a baby, a heart, and a paddle from the game Pong.

Interactive fiction is the art form I’ve worked in for decades now. I started writing it mainly because it was one of the few kinds of video games that I had the skill to write, but I grew to love the kinds of experiences it can deliver, the way that it can both distance the reader and draw them in and make them complicit in the narrative. It’s an accessible art form, thanks in part to the people who have created and maintained free tools, and it’s given voice to communities who aren’t often represented in video games, either as creators or as subjects of the stories being told.

Interactive fiction has been marked by long-standing and on-going efforts to support works’ creation through free tools, to promote those works through competitions and festivals, and to make them available to future readers through archiving. The IFTF actively supports all three of those kinds of efforts.

I organized IFComp for a number of years, and think it’s an important part of the interactive fiction landscape. The IFTF has not only supported but improved the competition, and put it on much firmer long-term footing.

Maxwell Neely-Cohen

Maxwell Neely-Cohen is the author of the novel Echo of the Boom and Editor-At-Large for The Believer. His essays and non-fiction have been featured in places like The New Republic, Ssense, and BOMB Magazine. His experiments with literature and technology have been acclaimed by The New York Times Magazine, Electric Literature, and Google.

For me, interactive fiction is a full-on literary art with a rich history, exploring the same ground as the Oulipo, Borges, and Cortazar. IF has a ton to teach anyone who tells stories, who paints with language. I think we’ve barely touched what could be possible with it, what experiences and storytelling modes it could reveal to us. I’ve always wanted to try to figure out how to bring the IF world and the traditional literary and publishing world closer together, how to bridge that gap.

I think institution building and scene building are incredibly important with emerging and experimental forms, and part of that is financial support and financial reward. I think the annual competition is super important; it’s a forum where innovation and risk can be encouraged and rewarded, where community can be created.

Dan Sanderson

Dan Sanderson is a software developer and writer in Seattle, Washington, USA. He is @dan_sanderson on Twitter.

I’ve always been drawn to novel ways to tell stories, starting at a very early age with interactive fiction—huge worlds conveyed on small machines—and gradually spanning a wide variety of interactive and non-interactive media: IF, computer games, scavenger hunts, alternate reality games, escape rooms, alt-ctrl machines, theme parks, music, film, live theater, puppetry, pantomime, fireworks, architecture, projection mapping. Despite or perhaps because of my broad interests, I spend most of my spare resources on patronage, staying connected to and living vicariously through artists that inspire me. IF in particular presses all of my buttons: systems design, language, compilers, user interaction design, narrative, and immersive storytelling. I’m as interested in the tools as I am in the works artists create with them, especially with the goal of bringing the medium to a broad audience.

I’ve donated to the IF community sporadically in various ways, especially IFComp prizes but also supplementary labor. I was excited to see the founding of the IFTF, with a well established continuing mission of supporting the community and a group of core community leaders at its helm. I’ve long said that there are many members of the IF community I would sponsor just to do whatever they wanted if I had the means, and donating monthly to a central non-profit organization is a great way to do that.

IFComp is a central pillar of the community. It keeps me connected to IF even when I don’t have time to visit the community forum regularly. It also has a reach outside of the core community that is important to keeping the field alive. It encourages new works and highlights interesting and accessible gems for people new to IF to try.

I’m especially excited to see the community, via IFComp and elsewhere, embrace new tools like Twine that are bringing interactive storytelling to artists that otherwise wouldn’t be interested in the arcane tooling of traditional forms.

Do you have a story about how you came to interactive fiction or IFTF? Please let us know!