Tips on Using IFDB

IFDB has three main functions.

First, it's a comprehensive catalog of IF, past and present. IFDB is a collaborative, community project - it's a little like a Wiki for IF bibliography. Members can edit the game listings in the catalog, and even add new listings, so you never have to wait for the site's administrators to get around to adding the latest releases or fixing errors in existing listings. If something's missing, you can add it; if something's wrong, you can fix it.

Second, IFDB is a place to share recommendations. The site offers several tools for giving and getting personalized recommendations about games to play. The key word is personalized. IFDB isn't just a "Top 10" scoreboard that boils everything down to an average of what everyone likes (although it can do that, too). IFDB's recommendation tools are based on the idea that tastes vary, so the goal is to help you find games that match your individual style. One way we do this is by giving you lots of ways to sift through the database, and another is by helping you find other people with tastes in IF similar to your own.

Third, IFDB makes it easier to get started at playing these games. Modern IF games usually require "interpreter" programs, so it can be time consuming, and sometimes frustrating, for new players to track down everything they need. IFDB's "Download Adviser" is designed to fix this. The Download Adviser can give you step-by-step instructions that tell you precisely what you need, where to find it, and how to install it - customized for the exact game you want to play and the computer you want to play it on.

If you're looking for recommendations

Here are some ways to use IFDB to find recommendations for games to play:

1. Start with a "Recommended List." One of IFDB's key features is the Recommended List. Any member can create a list of favorite games in any category. There's no pre-set list of categories, so members can get as creative as they like. If you're looking for a particular kind of game, try using "Search for a list," which you can find on the IFDB Home page. Enter keywords describing the kind of list you're looking for - "children's fantasy," say, or "post-apocalyptic science fiction." You can search the same way for polls created by other members - polls are similar to Recommended Lists, but reflect the votes of the whole IFDB community rather than just one member's favorites. Browse lists - Browse polls.

2. Start with a reviewer you trust. Spend a little while browsing through games, and read some of the member reviews. You'll probably find some reviewers who seem to have similar taste to your own. When you see a review you like, you can click on the reviewer's name to see all of their other reviews. Take a look at which games they rate most highly - chances are that you'll like them, too.

3. Start with a game you really like. If you have a favorite game, look at its listing. There are a couple of useful connections you can explore from here. The listing will point out some Recommended Lists that feature the game - these lists can be great sources of recommendations for similar games. Also, look at the reviews: people who give the game high marks might have similar taste to yours, so you can see what other games they like by viewing their other reviews.

4. Create a poll. If you still can't find what you're looking for, you can directly ask for help from other members by creating a poll. When you create a poll, you describe what sort of game you're interested in; then, other members can provide their input by voting for games that they think match what you're seeking. Votes will appear on your poll's home page, so you can see everyone's suggestions in one place.

If you want to promote your favorite games

1. Make sure the game is listed accurately. If you can't find a favorite game listed on IFDB, add it! IFDB lets members add new listings, so there's no need to wait for a central administrator to get around to updating the catalog when a new game comes out. Click here to add a new listing, or use the link on the Home page. And if you find a listing that's incomplete or inaccurate, you can expand or correct it yourself - every game page has a link titled "Edit this page" that lets you update the listing.

2. Write a review. One of the best things you can do to promote a game is to tell people what's so great about it. Don't just say that the game is great - tell people why. In your profile, or even in the review, give some thoughts on your own taste, so readers will have some idea of how closely your perspective aligns with theirs. To write a review, go to the game's main page and click the "Write a review" link.

3. Create a Recommended List. People looking for games want customized, personalized recommendations - they want to know about the specific kinds of games they're looking for. Recommended Lists let you give other members exactly this kind of custom recommendation. If there's a particular category of game that you like, create a list with your favorite games in the category. You can create as many lists as you want, so you don't have to limit yourself to a generic "Top 10" list - you can create lists tailored to the niches you're interested in. Click here to create a list.

4. Vote. Browse polls once in a while to see if you have any suggestions to add. When you know of a game that would be a good fit for a poll, vote for the game.