The XYZZY Awards are an event to recognize extraordinary interactive fiction, serving a similar role to the Academy Awards or Grammy Awards but for a far smaller community. The XYZZY Awards have been presented yearly in the early spring since 1996 by Eileen Mullin, the editor of XYZZYnews. Any game released during the year prior to the award ceremony is eligible for nomination to receive an award. The decision process takes place in two stages: members of the interactive fiction community nominate works within specific categories in the winter, and sufficiently supported nominations become finalists within those categories. Typically there are four or five finalists in each category. Community members then vote among the finalists, and the game receiving a plurality of votes is given the award in an online ceremony at ifMUD.
Since 1996 the XYZZY Awards have become one of the most important events within the interactive fiction community. They have recognized a wide variety of games, and are seen by many as a contrast to the Interactive Fiction Competition, which favors short works and uses a different structure for judging and voting. Together with awards like the Interactive Fiction Competition, the XYZZY Awards provide opportunities for the community to encourage and reward the creation and development of new works within a genre that is no longer commercially lucrative.
XYZZY Awards are given in ten categories:
- Best Game - since 1996
- Best Implementation - since 2010.
- Best Individual NPC - since 1996
- Best Individual PC - since 1997
- Best Individual Puzzle - since 1996
- Best NPCs - since 1996
- Best Puzzles - since 1996
- Best Setting - since 1996
- Best Story - since 1996
- Best Supplemental Materials - since 2010
- Best Technological Development - since 2010
- Best Use of Innovation - since 2010
- Best Use of Medium - since 1997, retired 2010
- Best Writing - since 1996
- Videogame, Player, Text. Manchester University Press. p. 189.
- Nick Montfort. Twisty Little Passages: An Approach To Interactive Fiction. MIT Press. p. 210. ISBN 9780262633185.
- Carless, Simon. XYZZY Ranks Top Text Adventures For 2005. GameSetWatch. 28 March 2006.
- Davidson, Drew. Well played 1.0: video games, value and meaning. ETC Press. 2009. ISBN 0557069750
- Chris Kohler. Retro Gaming Hacks: Tips & Tools for Playing the Classics. O'Reilly Media. p. 296.