Those reviews Marius Müller posted were great.
I have to point out this is amusing too: http://ifdb.tads.org/showuser?id=cddanspi0n5lf1b9
One star all the way. Hooray for persistence. But it took so long to call them on it. The thing is–they deserve to be ignored. But they need to be called out first. I remember when I saw their offerings I thought, wow, cool, I wonder what sort of what-ifs they thought of! Oops, they didn’t.
Also re: the term interactive fiction vs text adventure, I prefer text adventure because to me it says, it’s not going to try any multimedia tricks that can feel like, well, conversational tricks people use in person to seize your attention. I mean, a few timely illustrations are pretty awesome, but IF allows for much more fiddling and distraction than I want. So I like to think of my works as text adventures, and when I read the occasional “not even trying to be IF” for a puzzle game I wrote…well, it isn’t trying to be. But I think it’s different and unusual and worth uncovering, like many people who use more linear formats.
I’m maybe biased here as I’m a no-frills sort of person. So I don’t like when interactive fiction tries to be manipulative, or uses what I see as parallels of tricks for people to waste your time in conversation for real life. I mean, I’d rather have something that encourages me to interact than forces me to. That’s the fable of the sun and the wind, to me. And when I get too many 2-second pauses as the main bit of interaction, I think people can do better. I like feeling free to ask a question back, and not just the one my fellow converser wants me to.
Of course, I may be projecting my opinions about a person onto their work, which is a bad idea and the sort of thing I don’t want to get from others, but…well, I’m just saying, even the terminology is tough. I mean, even though Infocom labeled their works interactive fiction, I still always called them text adventures, and most people I talk to say “Infocom? They made great text adventures!” And while it’s great to try to be more than that, if interactive fiction gets too close to a book–well, I like books, but I have a huge backlog at the library, books I’m more likely to enjoy because there are ways to check these things on the internet.
In case you missed it up-thread, by the current consensus definition of IF, choice games are indeed “actual IF games”. Frankly, I blame Infocom for choosing such a general (and pretentious) term-- we wouldn’t be having any of these discussions if they had called them “command-line fiction” or “type-your-own-adventures”. (And I would prefer either of those to “parser games”, which is kind of a terrible name.)
I like both these terms. Now that you mention it, yes, parser and choice games seems like an unnecessary dichotomy–I think there’ve been efforts to blend the two, and I think those could give the best and most flexible games. Well, in theory. In practice, it’d require some serious technical skill to make such a programming language.
+1. No, way. +10. Hell, +googolplex.
Steph Cherrywell’s “Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!” does this very well indeed, and when it was pointed out to me that conversation trees were, in fact, a choice mechanic sometimes used in parser IF simply because it was the best tool for that particular job… I do believe the future of IF lies in the merging of both, and that while some games will always benefit from being parser-driven (like, obviously, your own games, Andrew) and other games should be choice-driven from the get go, the combination of both will result in better games.
Wade Clark’s extension, the one he’s working on, should make that possible. Appealing for choice authors? I don’t know; it seems easy to use, but not as easy as, say, Twine. But I really, really, really hope it takes off.
Choice has a hard time having parser bits - but it’s relatively easy for a parser to have choice bits. Cute thought.
Awesome. I loved them then and I love them now.
I also pity the foo’s who didn’t get the joke.
FWIW, Moby Dick is one of my favourite books of all time. I treasure not only the book’s contents but the very memory of reading it for the first time (which is why I probably will never read it again - some mystique you should never break).
The extension you’re referring to in Steph Cherrywell’s games is AJ Freyr’s. And I think it’s a great hybrid.
I’ve also used Michael Martin’s extensions a lot for pre-6L, and I finally managed to modify them to do a few tricks. They have the multiple choice conversations that allow toggling, etc.
But the thing is I realized how much easier it would/could have been with twine! There are a few neat things parser gets, but for most people those benefits would be outweighed by technical hurdles or even “ouch, is this all we can do?”
I think it’s a great exercise for an Inform author to say “would this be easier in Twine?” or, how would it be easier? Or vice versa. Because it opens the door for user friendliness.
For instance my Problems Compound puzzle with the jerks would’ve been a lot easier if you could just click on one guy and then click through, and it could keep track of things. But with a parser, text was all over the place.
As it was I managed to make it so you could type 1234567 or whatever to guess. But it was a point where I saw the flexibility of Twine.
I even figured a (pseudocode) way to do something for my anagram games in Twine, where you can maybe click a letter to shuffle it right or left, and you wouldn’t have to worry about if you’re trying to flip the wrong thing. But then, that might take away the hinting devices or even some of the silly stuff that gives error messages. Again, a trade-off.
Similarly for Threediopolis. In many ways, it might be at least as possible in Twine to click around. But the parser does allow a speedy way through it. And I’m a person who’s always preferred accelerators to mouse clicking, so parser fits naturally for me.
But I think it’s a valuable exercise to see “how would I do this in parser?”
I realize that sometimes healing (of various kinds) involves people giving others some space, so I apologize for turning up here and I hope I am not causing too much active discomfort by doing so. I don’t plan to make a habit of it, but since my meaning and intention is being discussed in some detail, maybe I can clarify a few things. Also it’s kind of long-winded, necessarily, since this gets into various fiddly details.
The intfiction post you refer to was my attempt, if inadequate, to explain people on both sides to one another, because it was causing me a lot of pain to see people rip into one another and because I could understand the emotional motivations on both sides. I think the original poster, far from intending to participate in any identity-based dispute, simply didn’t realize that there was already elsewhere a huge and massively painful, ideologically loaded argument about the status of Twine, that some people on the board were afraid for their personal safety as a result, and that he was directly echoing some of the wording associated with that argument.
My take on this breaks down as follows:
It is rarely useful to call a person racist, sexist, misogynist, etc. Doing so causes anger, pain, and defensiveness, and it usually prevents a useful conversation from occurring. I try not to say this to or even about people, except in cases where the person in question is consciously stating a sweeping negative based on one of these factors. I would refer to white supremacist groups as racist because that’s their overt, acknowledged reason for being. Elderly relative who says something reflecting a very old-fashioned and unhelpful view of the world? That’s a different category even if it is still harmful and still needs to be addressed somehow.
I dislike the callout culture in some parts of progressive politics. I think it tends to undercut the goals of the people who employ it, because it means that people are fearful of being labeled and those labels wind up taking the place of nuanced and reasoned discussions. And there’s no one on the planet who avoids sometimes doing or saying something they regret or that is thoughtless or that reflects a limited view of the world or that hurts a person or group in less power. So calling out everyone who does such things means, in the end, either everyone gets called out or some people for some reason get a hypocritical pass because of their social status. Both unhelpful, IMO.
At the same time, I also tend to avoid calling out people who do use these terms differently than I would. I know some people might disagree with me on this, but I generally find those second-order-level fights (“no, don’t call him racist! I mean, maybe by some definitions he is, but don’t say it!!”) even less productive. In particular there are a lot of problems around a person who does not experience a particular kind of bias telling a person who does experience that bias how they should express their perception of the world. It is important to me to hear that input. Trying to correct how they express themselves may get in the way of my hearing it. If I do talk to someone about this topic, I prefer if possible to do so privately, again to avoid the public shaming business; or I prefer to talk about my stance on it in general (as for instance right now), so that people can decide whether they agree in a non-heated context.
I do not think that every time someone perceives a reaction to be based on a systemic bias, they are necessarily correct. Both in the IF community and elsewhere, I’ve seen people blame particular reactions on prejudice when I think there’s some other factor at work. On the other hand, I also know that people on the receiving end of a specific kind of bias are probably much more attuned to its subtleties than I am, so again, I feel that if I push back on those perceptions, I should try to do so thoughtfully, respectfully, and (especially) non-defensively, and be open to the possibility that I’m wrong.
I do think it’s important to look closely at our own motivations. A case of the first: one night at a meetup some years ago I noticed that, in a mixed group, I had more immediately acknowledged the white man and that at some level I had assumed that he was the person I “should” be talking to, in contrast with the southeast Asian man beside him. When I noticed that I’d done that, I was ashamed and determined to work harder to catch that kind of shit in the future, because it does not reflect my conscious beliefs about the world nor the effect I want to have in it. I can think of many other examples of this kind of thing, unfortunately, including a lot of times I have hastened to try to distance myself from feminine-coded interests because I felt I needed to do so in order to be respected. Being a woman and angry about how you’re sometimes treated and at the same time perpetuating those very same stereotypes in subtle ways? Unfortunately extremely common. So part of this process, at least for me, is to acknowledge that sometimes my behavior reflects attitudes I’ve picked up at a subconscious level that I don’t like and that I wish to stop. In that context, I would prefer it if my friends quietly alerted me to things I was doing that reflected these biases so that I could correct them.
A culture in which it’s possible to acknowledge that we could all improve how we behave is much more livable, and ultimately more productive, than a culture in which everyone is held to an impossible standard of ideological purity and those who fail at that standard are immediately cast out. This applies to groups of all political and religious flavors.
It is much harder to acknowledge and correct problem behavior in oneself if one regards that behavior as a fundamental determiner of identity. “How could I be using sexist assumptions? I’m not just not a misogynist, I am a woman myself!” Well, it is possible, as I said, and it’s easier to think about and talk about if we back off identifying people on these grounds.
For groups, it’s also important to look at the effects of our behavior and our institutional arrangements, however those might be motivated, in order to see whether they are having the effects we want. Another example: people tend to hire other people who resemble themselves, and very often people they already know somehow. This isn’t malicious! On the contrary, it’s typically motivated by very sensible and even kind considerations: you’re more likely to know the qualifications of your acquaintance than of a total stranger, so you might feel more prepared to say they’d be a good hire; you might know more about the circumstances of a member of your own community and understand why they are currently in need of some work. But, cumulatively, the effect of this seemingly sensible and kindly action is to shut out the kinds of people who don’t already have friends inside the institutions they would like to join. Therefore it’s worth asking ourselves if we can conduct business differently, so as to allow opportunities to all the people who are qualified for them.
When it comes to interactive fiction specifically: yeah, there was definitely a point when I would have cheerfully labeled any kind of hypertext or CYOA as Not IF, and you can probably without much effort find some older articles in which I talk about why I didn’t think they were very good at delivering the experience I was looking for from interactive stories.
Several things have happened, though: I’ve played a lot more of that content and I’ve run across some very good work; the tools and products themselves have improved; I’ve come to see some ways of achieving what I like about parser IF in a non-parser context (specifically, rich world model games that are just represented through clickable choices). And I’ve also just had a lot, a LOT, of conversations with people who write choice-based stories about how they perceived the IF community and their possible relationship to it. When Alexis Kennedy asked me perhaps 5 years ago whether they should call Failbetter’s stuff interactive fiction, my response was basically: “No, the general public associates that term with fighting a parser, and you don’t want to be tarred with that brush.” And yet over and over various people told me that it was important to them to be counted as IF.
I didn’t really understand why they wanted in, mind you – parser IF has since the mid-90s been an almost resource-less field, and if anything the merging of choice and parser IF communities has brought in opportunities that weren’t otherwise there: opportunities to earn money, to be published, to be considered part of a continuum with a much more accessible and widely-played set of games. In my view, the advent of choice-based IF has brought with it tremendous gains in the number of people interested in writing and playing, as well as a lot of interesting new experimental ideas.
That said, I do understand that some people don’t like to play choice IF, and I don’t wish to imply there’s something inherently wrong with holding that preference. There may be some broader implications to how people choose to express the preference, and to how we choose to organize the community, and whether we want to adopt a community standard where we just don’t bother to rate (as opposed to down-voting) contributions of a kind we don’t care for. These are all separate points and can be considered individually. Admittedly, I’m not really sure whether it would have been possible to have a constructive conversation about this at the time things blew up a couple of years ago, because the anger was running too high.
I guess this is my question for those who would prefer the IF community to be a parser community only: what harm has parser IF taken, and is it possible to protect against or remediate that harm while otherwise accepting the presence of choice-based forms?
People mention that the ratio of parser IF in the Spring Thing is low, for instance, but the overall number of parser games submitted is still higher than the entire input in some past years. 2013 got three whole entries; this year there are six parser entries total, since Xylophoniad is a pretty solid homebrew parser game by Robin Johnson, plus a whole load of other things. But perhaps there are other kinds of harm that people are concerned about.
Anyway. Sorry this is so monumentally long, and for intruding at all. Perhaps it will clarify at least my own take on things.
Oops! This got a bit long too but I hope it’s worth it.
Yes. I remember studies showing how people with nice $400k houses can be upset the person next door has a $500k house.
Of course the ironic thing is, the person with the $500k house can wonder why he isn’t clearly happier than the next door person with a $400k house. Jealousy (of things real or imagined) is a bad thing.
I’m poking at the worst of human nature above, but more personally, one thing I (as an author of a 2013 ST game) fought was, will anyone even be SEEING this? And while part of this was down to inexperience and lack of focus, fact is–Spring Thing didn’t have a huge slate of games for the past few years, so I was looking over my shoulder instead of taking care of things.
Now, I don’t need tons of attention, and while I was glad Spring Thing was more relaxed, I was upset my work didn’t have much feedback til after the comp when someone dropped a transcript on me and said “thanks, good job, interested in a transcript” and we emailed back and forth how to make version 2 less buggy. I’m glad I got to know this person–as well as Geoff Moore, who placed ahead of me–but I’d have liked more of that!
So I feel Aaron Reed creating the back garden has been a very inspired idea. It’s allowed games like Aspel or Foo Foo (disclaimer: I tested Foo Foo and enjoyed it) to just, well, be there, without the worry of competition. So, rising tide all ships etc. And things like ShuffleComp worked very well–I didn’t find myself caring if a game was parser or choice. So it seems like it can work. But that was sort of fun and novel and IFComp means different things to people who’ve been at it a while vs people who haven’t. So I don’t know what to do there.
And I didn’t feel worried I’d be shouting into a void this year. My worries were different.
Now I have to admit. I like having a parser treehouse. I hope I always have one. And I feel like there’s enough for me in the I7 subforum, or in a private google group. But I came here mainly because I needed a place where I could feel secure saying things I didn’t feel safe on intfiction while there were those few contentious threads. I feel like I can go back now, and it’s very cool, but I think it’s good to have more than one website.
And so I really appreciate you bringing up the points about identity politics, etc., because–and I don’t want to reveal my politics explicitly on this thread–I want to believe something because I believe it’s right, not because I’ve been trapped into believing it, and I don’t want to feel I have to triangulate people I like and respect on website A with people I like and respect on website B.
Because one of the things about the community is, when things are clicking, politics and other things to disagree about are well on the back burner. A certain game doesn’t have a political bent, and people are glad enough they played it, they don’t worry if it is the best ever, or if person X they disliked enjoyed the game more than they did, and so forth. This is pie in the sky, but it can and does happen.
And I think there is some light we haven’t recognized. Plain old trolls don’t seem to be around nearly as much. Some have gone away. I still think there’s strong evidence one of my testers for my IFComp 2015 game was likely a former intfiction troll. I have suspects, but I don’t care who, and if I’m wrong, well, in any case there were enough people who helped me bounce back from the sting from that transcript. And I hope people new to the community have that reenforcement too.
I’ll leave a small personal story here. Despite being a hardcore parser type, I think I’ve got a parallel with a lot of Twine authors. I7 allowed me to do something I always meant to as a kid. I remember playing Infocom games and saying “Wow! I’d like to do that!” And I wrote a few programs, with a really primitive parser, but I put it all aside once stuff like writing heap sorts in computer science class bored me to tears, plus I never got around to really understanding Assembly Language either, so I figured I just wasn’t really a heavy duty programmer. Sure I got good at writing test scripts or handy utilities to make my work easier, but that didn’t count.
Then years later I7 seemed almost unfairly simple to start writing games. And free too!
And Twine must feel similarly to people who’ve grown up with hypertext. They’d like to do something fun, a bit more than a webpage, and perhaps inputting text feels too much like writing an Internet form, which none of us like. And something that doesn’t sprawl too much, or let you get lost, but has the fun of going down a favorite site’s clickhole, be it Wikipedia or TheOnion.com, which is fun for me too of course. And I hope people have that environment to have the chances to make the leaps I did. I guess we have a responsibility to our selves to try to live up to our dreams and put in the necessary work, too. But that’d be another topic. And I think it applies equally to whether we use parser or choice.
Fear of obscurity and wanting to suck up to the choice game audience has no bearing on whether choice games are IF or not. They are not. You want to retrofit them into IF because they have a larger audience and because like the majority of games today, they can have a story and a rich universe?
There is nothing special about that. Lots and lots of games have that these days, from first person shooters to RPGs to point&click adventures.
Being text-based and having a rich universe doesn’t make you IF.
I’ve only just started reading your post, and I already have this to say: drop by whenever. This is not a closed space, it’s a place where things can be discussed more freely (I like to think!). So please, if you don’t want to make a habit of it because the IF scene is fractured enough as it is and you haven’t the time to spare, that’s fine, but about giving some space? Apologizing for turning up? Pish-posh. Thank you for participating!
I’ll now settle down and read the rest of your post.
EDIT - Which I have. Informative, detailed and educative as always. Thank you
Okay, I dislike being characterized so contemptuously (“fear of obscurity”, “sucking up”), and in general I tend to think that kind of reaction is a sign that there is not enough mutual respect in place to permit a productive conversation. I apologize if I’ve harmed you and that forms the basis of your anger; I don’t recall doing so or intending to do so.
That said, I realized that I was likely to run into some of that kind of emotion by turning up here, and I made a choice to have the conversation anyway, at least for a little while. So let me see if I can address any of this.
You seem to imply that you believe that categories of art have an objective existence independent of the community of artists and audience members.
If that is true, it may explain some of the communication gap, since I tend to believe (both philosophically and pragmatically) that terms of art are formed through use, and that they tend to be fluid; also that discussions about categories are often really discussions about how communities define themselves and what resources they want to make available. By saying “I consider choice-based games to be IF,” I am saying in part “I think these entities are valuable to discuss alongside other things I call IF”; “I am interested in interacting with their creators on similar terms to how I interact with other IF authors”; and “I am willing to spend some of my pool of IF-related resources on these works.” I am not saying “I cannot see any formal distinction between these works and parser IF.” I can – but I can also see formal distinctions within parser IF, so that this seems to me not to prove anything about how it is useful to assign terminology.
I have also tended to assume that when people say “these works are not IF”, they conversely mean “I don’t want to talk about these works alongside parser IF”, “I do not consider their authors welcome in the community [except inasmuch as they may also be authors of parser-based work]”, and “I do not wish these works to receive resources used for parser IF.”
The concern about resources seemed to me likely to be people’s strongest concern about the spreading of the term “IF”. That has led me to wonder whether we can address the specific results of resource reallocation in a way that satisfies everyone (e.g., by increasing the overall pool of resources so that the share of resources for parser IF was as great as or greater than before).
I still don’t get why it’s such a big deal as to whether choice games are classed as “real IF” or not. Honestly, why does it matter?
We can debate till the end of time the true definition of what constitutes “real IF” without ever reaching a consensus. “Real IF” to one person means something completely different to another. I like them and I’ve even written some, but if I had to say one way or the other I’d say they weren’t “real IF”; at the same time I also think it doesn’t matter. “Real IF” is just a label after all.
I mostly agree, David, but Emily brought up a good reason why it might matter:
The second and third points are probably damaging in the long run. Niche as parser IF is, it’s not good for it to stay resolutely closed off, I don’t think. I’m sure it would still survive, but it wouldn’t be any better for it.
As far as labels go… meh. If you’re saying “Who cares about the labels, let’s enjoy the games, and if there’s a sort of game I don’t like or don’t think is real IF I’ll just keep my distance due to my personal preference”, I agree with you 100%. So labels are meaningless in that sense. But as Emily pointed out they may lead to unwelcome and unfriendly actions, as a direct result of the labels existing, even if those actions were not intended when people started using the labels.
So this may be a conversation really worth having after all.
Emily, as far as resources go, if there’s anything at all bothering me is that so many new people are spending so much energy on new choice tools (most of which don’t seem better than what there already was before) while the interpreter scene remains incomplete…
…though not, I should point out, due to lack of trying. Vaporware’s ZIL efforts and RealNC’s TADS interpreters and Johana’s Vorple… those are all quite excellent. But… I don’t know, I see so much energy on those new choice tools which don’t seem any better than Twine or Undum or Raconteur or even Quest, and text colour management in Glulx is still an unnecessarily difficult procedure… y’know?
Then again - here I go playing both side at once - the people who are investing their time in these new choice tools are not INTERESTED in parser, so why should I resent them working in what they’re interested in?
EDIT - I do resent the growing trend to make things available web-only, and that ALSO goes towards some parser games, but that’s another discussion. Recent comps have all made an effort to present downloadable copies of every game possible; that hasn’t escaped my attention, and I’m very, very grateful for it.
I definitely think there’s a lot of reinventing the wheel, but I see that as a reason to try to communicate between groups more rather than less. I think a number of the people who have built their own CYOA engines have done so because they don’t realize the extent of what is already out there. Part of the reason I try to share as much as possible about what is happening in different subfields is in the hope of redistributing energy towards genuinely new projects (to the extent that the project-doers are interested in novelty and aren’t just doing this the same way one might make a quilt or something, as a personal hobby that doesn’t need to produce outcome any different from anyone else’s).
The case of Glulx color handling has to do with the resource of specific people’s time, I think, and I doubt it’s affected at all by Joe Smith deciding to make yet another XML CYOA tool.
That’s the gist of what I meant. I’ve seen plenty of debates where people are saying one game is or isn’t IF and getting quite fired up about it, and I’m thinking “so what if it is or it isn’t? Is it any good? That’s what matters”.
That said, it was previously mentioned in this thread that some people have actually packaged up classic novels and released them as IF. I’d definitely take issue with that. Regardless of the merits of these works, there’s no earthly way they can be classified as “real IF”.
I should have made it more clear that this wasn’t pointing a finger at you specifically. It’s pointed at the part of the community that tries to get a ride on the “choice” train by attempting to change the IF genre to include things that are only remotely related to it.
I don’t know enough about art to imply anything of the sort. But I know a bit about video games, and I do imply that video game (or computer game; not sure if there’s a difference) genres are a helpful tool in distinguishing between different kinds of video games. Fans of particular kinds of game genres tend to form communities around them. If another genre that’s only remotely related is forced into it, then it has lost its identity.
I believe that Interactive Fiction has an established identity and it should keep it.
The rest of your post is talking about art, which I don’t know much about and thus can’t comment on. I’d say it seems a bit off-topic anyway. I’m really only interested in the video game aspect of IF, where game mechanics are a huge part.
That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the art of a video game. My favorite games tend to have good writing and be emotionally provoking. But the art behind video games does not have much influence on the genre it belongs to. Game mechanics do that.
As I explained above, my thinking is that for a game (any game) to be considered part of a genre, it has to play like other games of that genre. Choice games play nothing like a text adventure.
As long as choice games don’t try to hijack the IF genre and change its meaning, that’s totally fine. I can see cooperation between IF and Choice communities. But it’s annoying when some Choice games want to claim that they’re IF :-/
Also, I understand that not all Choice games are created equal. Some can have game mechanics that are very similar to a text adventure. The only difference would be that you construct your commands without typing, similar to early point&click adventures. But you know, we call them point&click adventures, not IF, even though they’re closer to IF than Choice games.
In the end, my annoyance about Choice games being put in IF events boils down to them being off-topic there, and that some people in the community welcome it because they’re more popular. It has nothing to do with me hating Choice games or their communities. I believe I’m a rational human being and “hating” someone because of what video games they choose to play would be plain silly (or even an indication that there’s something wrong with me.)
[quote=“PeterPiers, post:78, topic:250, full:true”]
As far as labels go… meh. If you’re saying “Who cares about the labels, let’s enjoy the games, and if there’s a sort of game I don’t like or don’t think is real IF I’ll just keep my distance due to my personal preference”, I agree with you 100%. So labels are meaningless in that sense.[/quote]
It’s annoying when I go to Steam to buy a game, click on the “Adventure” genre and get Tom Clancy’s The Division and Grand Theft Auto.
Similarly, it’s annoying when I go to an Interactive Fiction community site or event and get visual novels and PDF documents.
That’s all I’m saying
Okay; but my argument here is that these genre categories aren’t the cause of community-formation; they’re identified as a result of that formation, whereby particular formal features and aesthetic qualities are recognized by a community as something they like, and are thereafter perpetuated and sought.
So for instance I can easily imagine some alternate histories around IF community formation. In one alternate history, say, adult IF didn’t split off from the rest of the IF community – why should it? The mechanics of parsing are the same; it’s only the content and purpose of the work that’s different. In another alternate history, new school puzzleless/scoreless IF split off into its own community, leaving behind the core of players devoted to old school puzzle hunts. Either of those things could easily have happened; either could easily be explained on the basis of game mechanics.
If we talk about IF losing its identity – meaning that parser IF is no longer the only thing called IF – what kind of loss does that actually describe? We haven’t forgotten that formal differences exist; we’re still able to talk about those differences. We’re still able to define sub-events and subforums devoted to particular areas (hence ParserComp, or the intfiction subforum for talking about choice-based dev systems).
On followup, it looks like you mean specifically that you’d like to be able to refine, as it were, your shopping experience: maybe an additional tag for parser games on IFDB, and a bit more labeling in other places?