Are We Getting Mainstream?
The Prophet of Indecisiveness
Think of the past. What used to distinguish the demo scene from other movements and communities, and from the real world? The people, the culture, the ways of communication.
In the past the scene had BBSes - sure, not only the scene had them, but the scene had its special BBSes. It had mailswapping, it had diskmags and parties which nobody but the scener knew of.
Now the world is mixing up. No longer are we separated from the mainstream in our ways of communication. Instead of BBSes we use the Internet, websites, and channels which in theory everybody can access. It is much easier to find us, to act as if one was belonging to us, and to be accepted as one of us. Even our parties resemble the LAN-parties of the gamers, and many of our parties are mainly visited by gamers as well. It's all gotten public, open - and lost its shapes. Even our slang, our jargon has been infiltrated, it has been mixed up with cyberpunk language. The abbreviations such as "cu" and "lol", these don't come from our world, but we're using them, and some even got to regarding people who don't know them as lamers, although this has nothing to do with us, the demo scene.
Demos are getting like music videos. Often the music does not come from a scener; no, it was taken from a commercial band. The real world is infiltrating the scene, the commercial stuff enters our culture, our mythology, overshadows the virtues of the sceners, of the people living in this sacred world.
Scene as a religion, as many dedicated sceners called it, is worth nothing these days; scene is a mere hobby, and not even that - it's part of the hobby that's called computer, it's one of the things you do with your PC. You don't have a scene life that starts after you return from school and which you spend the rest of the day in, you've got one single life and regard the scene as a minor part of it.
No, this is not yet another "the scene is dead" article; neither is it a "the scene isn't quite what I thought it to be" article written by a newbie whose idealistic views have been disappointed for the first time, who starts doubting the other sceners' faith to the scene; no, this is about the general development of the scene, something that all of us can notice if we take a step back and watch what's going on.
For a long time sceners have argued in favour of letting fresh blood in; now we have this fresh blood with its different concepts. But do not blame them: the other sceners themselves have undergone a development, too - they have gotten more open-minded towards the outer world, and they have become more realistic, as a majority of them gradually became sucked by the professional world.
It has been discovered that the scene is a "kids' playground" (Altair), a bunch of people not discovering ingenious new things but implementing algorithms known long ago, summarized in a book called "Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice" published in the year nineteen-ninety. And with its self-concept of a sect, a sect of the computer industry, a conservative sect that would stick to its principles, progress brought by the outer world was long ignored, until the glance over the wall how the scene's really lagged behind technologically. The scene has then embraced the new technologies from the outer world, from the professionals, and moved its playground to a new neighbourhood, but their platform has stayed a playground - a playground for kids as well as adults, adults who are living in the outer world and joining the playground only for their pleasure.
It is a hobby, a game: the game to create some nice looking multimedia stuff, stuff that could be compared at best with advertisements or music videos or render animations, but that hardly ever has a meaning - it's just showing off how well you've read your Foley and van Dam, what a great taste of commercial music you have, how lucky you were to press this combination of buttons in Photoshop, or whatever you consider art. You consider it art because you don't know what else you should call it: Scientific knowledge? An engineered product? Does it have a use? No, it's art.
"Fuck demos, let's art", said Zden. With this sentence he expressed exactly what I'm trying to explain in this article: Many sceners feel demos aren't enough, that the art of demos alone is limited and of little interest, and that the limits of the scene should be surpassed. The scene shall adopt ideas from the outer world, it shall actively expose itself to influence from the real life.
Creative Web Design, Siggraph, Wallpaper Art, Trax in Space, Ars Electronica - these are the new buzzwords, the other elements in the large spectrum of computer art, what the demo scene used to ignore, promoting itself as the only host of "The Art of the 21st Century". Sceners are getting inspired from them and imitating their elements. Spot by Exceed and Metamorf by Satori, these two demos are very different, but both of them share that they are not what we aren't accustomed to. Will they guide us into a new era of demos? Will the Scene and the Mainstream combine for the benefit of the Scene?
The Scene Is Changing, we know that; and the scene is changing constantly. And that's good. Let us be inspired from the mainstream, critically examine it, experiment with it, and improve it.
The scene is, after all, only a part of the world.
Sure, we're getting new ideas, but at the same time the old scene spirit is vanishing. Even diskmags, how rare they may be, no longer carry it; too dominated by mainstream topics they are. There are rare occasions of exception. Devotion #1 was the last time I felt: It's like it used to be - this is the scene.
These people, I know them: Darkus, Magic, Makke, Soda - I know them, I communicate with them very often; and yet when I read articles about or by them I feel as if I were back in the Imphobia times. There is this aura of mysticism, of pride of the scene, of fascination, of dark magic. That these are not normal people, but they are into something special, and they share a special passion with me, which only those who read their texts as thoroughly as me will be affected with.
Is this the scene? Is it really the scene, the scene I have experienced lately? Isn't it all just a facade?
No, it is the scene, and it's clear why I get this feeling: because it's a diskmag, a diskmag of the traditional style, like RAW, ROM, Generation and Imphobia; it's a different way of communication, a way special for the scene, which only the scene knows in this special form.
Let us keep up diskmags, they are vital, they have this atmosphere that makes the scene the scene. Only they allow to get immersed. Without them, the scene is really just - a kids' playground, a place where amateurs experiment with professionals' tools and where professionals play without risks.
Let us develop, but let us keep up the vital elements that make the scene what it is.
People have realized that anonymous websites aren't the real thing, and at the same time they've realized that mailswapping cannot be really replaced by email, regardless of the increase of efficiency. The scene needs the personal, community, family spirit. Projects like Scenester, initiated by Gaffer, show this. We need to keep in touch.
And we must resume writing coding tutorials en masse, to teach each other the tricks; we cannot rely simply on the papers and books written by non-sceners in the outer world, we must adapt them to our culture.
Long live the scene!
This article is just irrational nonsense. It's just bystanders and wannabes who ever regarded the scene as a religion and wanted to keep up outdated fashions for ever. Coders have always been rational, technical characters. The scene has always been just a hobby for them. Diskmags, BBSes and mailswapping would never have existed if everybody had had an Internet account in 1992. This 'scene culture' is obsolete. We won't profit by separating from the outer world. Let's get rid of all this silly stuff!
The scene is about training your programming skills, making demos, earning prize money and nothing more.
Adok/Hugi - 02 Nov 2000