Ramblings On The Scene!

Written by Paranoid

Hello readers of Hugi! Well, after finishing the first issue of my own diskmag - Amnesia - my fingers are worn down to stubs... But I try to support diskmags on the scene that I like, coz I think diskmags are cool! So, here's an article for Hugi, which deals with something I've just been thinking about, The Scene!

People can say what they want about the relationship between piracy and the scene all they like, but in my opinion (as someone who has been involved in the scene for years, back in the 'old-school' days everyone talks about) piracy and the scene are inextricably linked. This is due, to a large extent, to the fact that the average computer owner's first introduction to the scene was almost always through getting cracked games. For one thing - the games often had nice little intros at the start, and then when the pirate tried to hunt down some more games, he would often stumble across this place - the legendary scene! Thus, the BBS', the swappers, the entire infrastructure of the scene was historically created by the spreading of pirated software, and people's desire to get it. If you think about it, you'll know what I'm saying is the truth.

But, you might not need me to tell you, the scene has changed an awful lot since then. And the scene has distanced itself greatly from the pirate side of itself, because the internet has enabled the demoscene to have it's own home, it's own infrastructure.

Is this a good thing? Yes, probably. But the problem with it is how long can the interest in demos last without the wider interest of people's greed, their desire to get something they want - for free? And how long can the demoscene enjoy such an audience? There are already a huge amount of what I would now call (and have always called) lamers, those who are only interested in getting games for themselves, and have no interest in the scene that provides these things for them, and thus do not give back to it. There are far fewer people interested in sustaining the scene.

"But this has always been the case Paranoid!" - you may well yell, and I can only agree with you, it has always been the vast minority who made this forum, and who continue to make it... But the problem is that the number is dying down more and more as time goes by, and precisely because of what I said before, capturing interest. Years back, when the demoscene and the cracking scene existed side by side (on BBS' and swappers), there was interest in getting the latest warez, and also in the latest demos. This was because the people that wanted the warez, got some demos, and checked 'em out. They liked them (most of the time! :)) and their eyes opened to the great qualities of the scene - a virtual community of people with the same interests as yourself.

I know that this is something of a controversial article, and people who are totally against piracy will think that I am blackening the name of the demoscene. But consider this, the roots of the scene, the father of the scene was piracy (of games mostly) and the mother of the scene was phone fraud. Without piracy and phone fraud, there wouldn't be a scene today. I am almost 100% sure of it.

I myself was a modem trader, trading stuff all over the world, for too many hours EVERY DAY. I seen, first hand, what happened when the calling cards - and thus the most reliable way for phreaking worldwide - dried up and died. Believe me, after the CC's went, it was like the death blow to the scene. Since then other things, like the fact that games nowadays come on 50+ disks, and the actual Internet itself, have changed the scene even more.

I have to admit, that 3-4 years ago I thought the scene was dying, but it wasn't, it was just changing. These changes shouldn't be resisted, they should be embraced - because, as an alien race on Star Trek once said 'Resistance Is Futile'.

There are many problems to the scene out there, though. I mean, look at the Internet - it's digital chaos out there. Can we sceners bring order to this chaos? Well, so far even the big companies and corporations have failed, but I believe that it is up to all of us to utilise this technology, for our benefit, that is, the benefit of our interest - the scene.

How do we order the scene on the Internet? Well, there's no easy way. But I think that diskmags can help tremendously. In my opinion, the scene should set standards. By standards I mean that everyone coming into the scene should have the information they need. Years back, the traderslist was one of the scene standards. It had the names and numbers of every scene BBS in the world! When a new sysop started a BBS, he knew he had to put it on the traderslist.

What about today? There's just different elements of the scene floating aimlessly through the ocean of the internet, seperate and alone. So, if diskmags keep the people informed about the sites, and even other diskmags, then the end result will be much better. Some sites and diskmags (like this one) do this very well, others do not. I cannot stress this enough, which is why I am trying to do a 'scene-directory' at the moment. A list of all the scene sites on the web, highlighting those which are almost essential - ie. The Network/Scenelink/Hornet etc. Such a thing takes a lot of time though, it's a gradual process (I think the traderslist itself started off with just US/German BBS'), but a worthwhile one.

So, in conclusion, I have to say what I always say - the scene is what you make of it. One person can do so much to help the scene that it's hard to believe. One person can set up the next Future Crew or set up a BBS which will create a scene in their country! But our own worst enemy is also, paradoxically, our own best friend. The Internet. Is it the bringer of global communications, accessibe to all? The forum we always wanted? Or is it just chaos, which is slowly dividing the scene and threatening to kill it off slowly? You decide! ;)

- Paranoid / Eclipse '98!