Hugi Magazine 32: Say It With Flowers

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Volunteering the scene (By Maija "DiamonDie" Haavisto)

Most people are interested in doing some kind of volunteer work - or at least they indicate so when asked in polls. Whether they are speaking honestly is a different matter, but many folks actually do devote a large chunk of their time to volunteer efforts. But volunteer work is hard to define. So hard that Wikipedia doesn't even have an article about the topic (at the time of the writing). There is an article titled "Volunteer", but it gives a very vague description of volunteering.

There are some things commonly associated with volunteer work. You may think of helping older or disabled people or devoting time to a charity. Blood donation is another common volunteer task. Nowadays one can even help by volunteering virtually (online). Many demoscene activities can be regarded as virtual volunteering, though I'm not sure if scribbling nonsense on Pouet all day long counts.

The fact is that the demoscene is run by volunteers. When people get tired of contributing their time and resources without pay, that's when you can declare that the scene is dead, because then it really will be. But fortunately most sceners are helping to keep it alive. Hosting websites, creating content for them, capturing demos on video, writing tutorials, those are all valuable ways to virtually volunteer. And don't forget writing for diskmags! There's a lot of opportunities for concrete work as well, whether that's giving someone a ride to a party or buying champagne for the awards.

Of course making demos is also a type of volunteer work. Without demos there would be no demoscene. So think about that the next time you're having a hard time finding motivation and the sixpack of beer next to you seems much more tempting. Not only are you boosting your own ego, but you're doing volunteer work, serving the community just like those who help lonely old people or sick people. Even if the demo sucks you're giving the people on Pouet something to volunteer about.

But in all seriousness, let's not forget about party organizers. Coders, musicians and graphics artists get all the fame, but party organizers are the ones doing the hard work. With the exception of the Assembly main organizers none of them get paid for the massive amount of work they put in the events that make scene what it is. In addition to a few paid staff members Assembly employs some 150 volunteer workers every year. It's a crazy amount of people, more than the number of visitors of many demoparties.

Some people in the scene are mostly interested in getting their name out, but most actually enjoy helping and contributing. There are sceners you have never heard of, but who are doing a lot more than some of those with the highest Slengpung presence. That's not to say everyone has to contribute equally. Different people have a different amount of resources. The best part about volunteering is the "volunteer" part. It is not mandatory and that's what makes it so enjoyable compared to our daily jobs.

Obviously the volunteers in the demoscene don't get the same amount of respect and appreciation as those working with AIDS orphans, but volunteer work isn't only about helping those with difficulties, it is for everyone. Culture is a very important part of the society and for many of us demoscene is the form of culture we most enjoy. When boredom sets in there's a lot more to do than to just complain.

Maija "DiamonDie" Haavisto