I’ve sort of known it existed since I remember, having heard about but never played Starship Titanic and a number of other text-based games. As a teenager I made mods for CRPGs which was my first foray into it; I learned about CoG through a now-defunct site* that reviewed books and games, around when Choice of Broadsides came out. I found out about Twine in about 2013 or so, discovered Emily Short and Sam Kabo Ashwell’s blogs, and finished my first Twine game in 2014. I socialised quite a bit with a group of IF fans and authors in a now-defunct chatroom*, then returned to Choice of Games around when Creatures Such As We was in IF Comp. I got really into the games that were coming out around that time and started making a couple of longer ChoiceScript games which never went very far. When I was published in a now-defunct* IF magazine, I then started writing with CoG.
*RIP these various nice places that used to exist online
When writing: the ability to explore many different possibilities, to play with player agency, and to make something that people can engage with actively. When playing: guiding a character through a storyline in different ways, seeing how the game responds to my character’s actions/background/personality, the interactivity making reinforcing themes/ideas/character journeys. I like that CoG games always allow me to play a variety of genders and to have queer romances; I also enjoy that there are varied ways to build a character both in skills and personality, so the roleplaying element is a good one for me.
My experience is: here, the HG and CoG subreddits, intfiction.org and the neo-interactives Discord server, various author-specific Discord servers such as those hosted by @JimD and @rinari, and Tumblr. There are a lot of IF and games people on Twitter and Bluesky - probably fewer on Twitter these days - which has tended to be more writer-discussion than player-discussion, though obviously there’s a big overlap.
Constantly, lol. I recommend stuff here and on the subreddits a lot, and post on Tumblr about games I’ve enjoyed too. I tell friends both inside and outside of the field of games about IF I’ve enjoyed. I’ve also recommended writing for CoG to writer friends, one of whom is working on an outline right now, hehe!