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Demoscene, the youth & future - And outreaching

category: general [glöplog]
Heyas, lemme walk through a short introduction to the topic (Or you could just skip to final paragraph, to get the idea ;):

As far as I remember, after every Assembly (and I've participated last 4 or 5) there has been lots of talking about how to outreach people to take interest in demoscene. There's lots of good attempts as well, including the scenebooth at Assembly.

In spite of that, I know and have met four people under 20 who've been part of creating a production released in a party, in comparison to those.. countless elderly I've met and who've had the pleasure to meet me. ;) (I'm only counting people I've actually met, btw)

Considering the above, I'm sort of curious in people's views about increasing the appeal of demoscene or if that is even necessary.

I'll throw in my own thoughts. These in no way are supposed to be the absolute truths or appliable to every individual, but about my own experiences as a youngling.

Assembly & how I took interest in the scene:

The Boozembly last year was the first I ever visited - Was also the first time I drank myself to blackout. The hangover was - to say the least - very interesting. Now, anyway. Assembly's demoscene side had never had much influence on me. The demos were mostly boring. I had never heard of Scenebooth or had any interest at all in it.

The stuff I saw in demo-competition wasn't anything I didn't see in movies or games. Of 64k I thought that there was simply too much data for it to be interesting at all. 4k and old-school I really ever took any note of - Inspired by that, I actually learned some 6502 asm and coded few scrollers ( .. ;) .. ) some year or two ago.

Anyway, to the point, to what exactly made me interested in demoscene and my field of interest, size coding:

The old hairy and stinky scene dudes in one random teenage programmer IRC channel. As these people had the right attitude, and in no way were radiating an elitist feeling unlike big part of Finnish demoscene. So, I went to Icons '08, and saw Himalaya that to me, was quite interesting for a 1k and I decided to do something for Assembly '08 - And so I did. Even that it sucked. I'm ashamed of that, now, really.

So eventually it was those few people who hanged in that IRC channel that got me to get interested in scene.

What I think is appealing in scene to most of the youth:

I don't think it's the big flashy demos, with their millions of polygons and fancy shaders at Assembly. Those at best get the votes of the not-so-scene-interested gamers and geeks. Creating much of that stuff simply holds little appeal. It takes huge amount of time, there's little sense in even coding much of it when you could just as well do it as an animation. It does require a quite bit of experience in coding with modern PCs.

Depending the individual, old school presentations don't necessarily hold such appeal either. Even if it is for C64, if it's appeal is mostly built on visuals and music with no thought of story, it'll usually fail to impress the people who are used to really BIG and fancy stuff.

What I personally find appealing in demos, are the ones with story, really strong flow and overall "artistic" approach.

Few examples: The Golden Path in my opinion would been with it's relatively simple geometrics, but yet very cleverly used, appealing to the classic art-interested youngling. Well, problem of course is, that these people rarely attend events such as Assembly.
Jesus Christ Motocross is um. Perfect for ADHD youth. ;)
Robotic Liberation with the story it features and very pop-like catchy tunes and visuals as well as for the technical aspect which, I think, would turn rather impressing to those who know of VIC-20.

Of the little I know of demoscene, I've came to the conclusion that many aspects that used to be the hooks that got young people participating are lost or changed. Therefore there should be new hooks.

Back in days even the small things were new and fresh as there yet wasn't the processing overkill of modern computers and many of the groups seem to have started with few real life friends or like-minded people picked up from traditional BBS or parties.

So, there was the approximately same-aged peers around the people and lots of new grounds to be discovered.

And what's one of the favorite pasttime of many youth? Drinking! Lots of drinking. And causing chaos. Spontaneously. So definitely is a big point to have pre-existing same aged friends when first arriving to a demoscene party.

Summing up and conclusions:

I think that outreaching for the newcomers is best gotten with tolerance and actually, occasionally, hanging in those places where the young coders and such gather. I don't know of most demoscene-oriented IRC channels and websites, but at least the Finnish channel is an absolute waste of time for anyone interested in demoscene and joining that prior to actually boozing with the people in some party is a sure way to kill any little motivation person may have. ;)

The hooks of demoscene have really changed and it really depends on the individual what he finds appealing in it. It's very hard to code anything interesting for PCs. It takes time and you are presented with so many choices of how to do things that you easily end up never finishing anything.

Maybe extreme size-coding, real wild demos and animations are the things that keep youth interested; And definitely demoscene's focus changes - and has to change - from the traditional demos to a wider range of different kind of multimedia.
added on the 2009-08-13 16:30:38 by tzaeru tzaeru
I've always though that the main drawing point of the demoscene and making demoscene productions is the quality in them that is pure creativity. You don't really have tight restrictions forcing you to make something that the audience is expecting, you're always allowed to experiment and find new and interesting ways to present your ideas, whatever they might be.

The competition aspect is also there, of course. I enjoy seeing my productions on the screen as much as anyone, but winning is also a big part of it (well, not winning per se, but actually seeing how people appreciated your hard work and your creative ideas).
added on the 2009-08-13 16:43:23 by visy visy
my experience is that there's no silver bullet. people get interested for the weirdest reasons, so it's best to cover everything.
added on the 2009-08-13 16:58:17 by Gargaj Gargaj
visy, yep, that's true and I think that's why I think parties such as altparty -could- have a lot potential.

There's a lot other ways to put out the creative productions than demoscene, though. Even that demoscene too would be a great channel. :)
added on the 2009-08-13 17:15:43 by tzaeru tzaeru
I completely agree with Gargaj, for example, I (as one of those youngsters you speak of) would never ever say that "I wouldn't do those fancy demos with high poly counts because I can do them in AfterEffects anyways!". Instead, my idea is to advance to a point where I only am fighting against myself over who is better and even after that I wouldn't cease advancing.

Also mind you, there's Knoeki, Aegis, Peandoas and young people as such who find C64 enjoyable even though your thesis suggests otherwise :).

Therefore, we all make up the different colors of the spectrum. And seeing that the color spectrum of the scene is wide and complete it is wonderful to rejoice for what we have; an immense diversity which means richness in culture and personal tastes.
added on the 2009-08-13 17:22:16 by decipher decipher
I wrote an article on this topic for Hugi #36. I agree with tzaeru that tolerance is very important. Don't flame the newbies, don't thumb their first production down, rather tell them what they've done well and what could be improved. Another idea I've had is to create separate democompos for people who've made their first/second/third demo.
added on the 2009-08-13 17:29:52 by Adok Adok
With the people I've talked to, the sizecoding-stuff is what broadly gets the most attention, for sure. However, there is no "on right approach", and as Gargaj says -- any good outreach effort triest to throw all kinds of stuff out there and see what sticks. It's like when I discovered demos myself -- for me one of the intriguing things was that it wasn't a game.
added on the 2009-08-13 17:31:13 by gloom gloom
I wrote an article on this topic for Hugi #36.

Nobody cares.
added on the 2009-08-13 17:31:52 by gloom gloom
Decicpher and gloom, yes, it's true that there's "no right approach" - And I really didn't try to claim there was. I merely used myself as one example of how people get interested in demoscene. There's a lot diversity, but that doesn't change how in past 10 years the average age of demosceners has gone up by 7. ^^

The point mostly was to think of the old & new ways demoscene is 'advertised' and made visible. I do think it'd be healthy for it to have more visibility.

Personally, I think arranging stuff like scenebooth at Assembly (even that it sucked this year) and creating parties such as Alternative Party is a good way.

I don't in any way think the demoscene would be dying or die in any near future - But I think it could do better anyway and continue growing. Seems a bit stagnant to me.

So do you think there should be active efforts made to try and make demoscene more visible in art schools and such? Or amongst some youth subcultures? Or, will people who'd be interested in demoscene, find it sort of automagically?
added on the 2009-08-13 17:44:03 by tzaeru tzaeru
I think it's quite hard to become 'part' of the demoscene in general.
Having witnessed a couple of comebacks or newcomers trying to make their way into 'the scene', they often get demotivated by the (sometimes incestuous) character of it. Think of unwritten ethics and narrow-minded ppl here...
It often comes down to the fact quite a few are scared by newcomers who have different ideas on things, as for - when accepted as general ethics - their own platform of fame could collapse.

(oh and as for outreach, i run 8bittoday.com which has a potential side effect of reaching out to new sceners, as different disciplines and scenes cross paths there).
added on the 2009-08-13 17:44:26 by Sander Sander
quite a few are scared by newcomers who have different ideas on things

Sorry but what makes this a fact? What is one of the most popular size-coding categories right now? Isn't it 4k Procedural Graphics, which is a quite new category that stands high in the crowd. I don't think the scene has "unwritten ethics" where if you don't obey to them you are screwed. The scene is open-minded or at least this is how I perceive it. In the end, variety is always fruitful and beautiful and the only thing that doesn't change is the change itself.
added on the 2009-08-13 18:00:18 by decipher decipher
8bittoday.com is awesome.
added on the 2009-08-13 18:00:34 by _-_-__ _-_-__
Becoming part of the demoscene is not as easy as most people believe.The ordinary "just start with a release and improve" suggestion sounds easy, but all the crap talk you have to face when releasing stuff that's not instantly "top notch" is really demotivating.
I know quite some people that didn't survive through this and lost motivation quite soon. Sure there are always some people respecting newcomers, but the feedback for most of them is simply killing the will to improve in terms of demoscene.

I really like talking to newcomers at parties and to stay in contact with them. Even if I'm an old demoscener and possibly also old-fashioned in my sight on the demoscene - I love to feel the fresh air.
added on the 2009-08-13 18:16:33 by Raven^NCE Raven^NCE
don't fear, Bruno & Bronko are here!
(and they will save the scene)
added on the 2009-08-13 18:19:47 by elkmoose elkmoose
The ordinary "just start with a release and improve" suggestion sounds easy, but all the crap talk you have to face when releasing stuff that's not instantly "top notch" is really demotivating.

to quote the great vin diesel, "there's gonna be one speed: mine. if you can't keep up, don't step up, you'll just die."
if you cant filter good critics ("the music had some ideas but the production was really bad") from bad ones ("i hate you! and i hate the bands you like!"), you might want to learn that first - independent of the demoscene.
added on the 2009-08-13 18:20:14 by Gargaj Gargaj
but all the crap talk you have to face when releasing stuff that's not instantly "top notch" is really demotivating

that's not just the demoscene - a large proportion of everybody on the internet act like dicks in "public" spaces.
added on the 2009-08-13 18:31:54 by smash smash
Becoming part of the demoscene is not as easy as most people believe.The ordinary "just start with a release and improve" suggestion sounds easy, but all the crap talk you have to face when releasing stuff that's not instantly "top notch" is really demotivating.

Not really. If you have a sincere first prod, that doesn't look like a fake troll prod (read BITS), at least some people will offer 'motivational thumbs' and solid advice regarding possible improvements. Nobody is expecting a new Lifeforce from a 15 year old, who just discovered the Nehe tutorials. :)
added on the 2009-08-13 18:40:09 by tomaes tomaes
Oh...we had quite some members that lost interest in the demoscene after showing some of their first stuff...we're still in contact with them...but they're not really interested in the demoscene anymore...the present their stuff to art communities instead or went out of the digital art section in general...
added on the 2009-08-13 18:44:56 by Raven^NCE Raven^NCE
Yep, the relation between different kind of art subcultures and demoscene is quite interesting. There's very little difference with the productions presented. And I'd guess some of the real wild and demo productions end up to other non-demoscene related art events.
added on the 2009-08-13 19:00:38 by tzaeru tzaeru
I'm with gargaj here.
it's definitely a good idea for basically everything in your life (school/university/work/partnership/love/blabla) to cope with critics of any kind - positive or negative, constructive or brutal.
one thing I remember best when I started studying was a quote from a teacher there when there was a voluntary test that nobody had to do if he didn't want to: "there are people who try to avoid any hassle, and then there are people who simply try to get things done, even if it's hard".
same goes for the demoscene I guess.
even I am now nearly an old fuck in the demoscene, though when I started I was quite young and there were already a few old fucks around whose abilities in making demos surpassed mine by a factor of 1000. I remember that in the beginning I often didn't feel too comfortable with the demoscene, many of its members or even attending demoparties. but well, yeah. you can avoid hassle, or you can try to get things done.

anyway, before this gets lengthy: visy really has a big point there. I also think that the main attraction point of the demoscene is the creativity you can live without any restrictions. maybe that's the message "old" sceners should try to communicate to newcomers (but to be honest, whenever I attend any demoparty, I think that EVERY scener communicates this creativity just naturally - that's what always amazes me again and again).
if you're just too focussed on competition, winning, being top notch and such (although it's totally legal and nice to go for that) and in consequence become demotivated if you don't get there, sure, then you may loose interest before you even really started.
and, if I would focus too much on that, I would have left the scene long before - because still, there are so many people who are 1000 times better than me in everything.
also alot of newcomers (do I need to say YUP?)

well, yeah. back to finishing my buenzli intro :)

the scene is undead.
added on the 2009-08-13 19:09:10 by styx^hcr styx^hcr
tomaes is right in some ways though, I know from experience. Some of my first prods in YUP were horrid but I was 14 with a cause so people were very good to me about it, and I'm quite grateful.

As for entering the scene, same thing for me as with gloom, I was interested because the first demo I saw was technical and cool, and I didn't have to play it cause it wasn't a game :) It was a fascinating concept to me.

For first prods you can just really tell if there's effort put into it, and if you're a beginner that NEEDS to be supported. And from my experience, it is.

Also I really really don't mean to be show-offy here but I find it a bit ironic that this thread is about youth and outreach and it was youth who won the 4k compo ;)
added on the 2009-08-13 19:10:10 by ferris ferris
another thing: I don't drink :)
added on the 2009-08-13 19:15:22 by ferris ferris
i guess it's love. and judging by pouet's activity we're still on fire.
added on the 2009-08-13 19:32:11 by superplek superplek
yeah, even if nobody does productions anymore sometime in the future, people will still be complaining about the lack of activity here ;)
added on the 2009-08-13 19:34:25 by styx^hcr styx^hcr
Regarding boozing: if it was two things that "broke" the norwegian demoscene in the mid/late-90s, it was these:

1) Backstabbing, badmouthing and general fucktard behaviour of the unfunny kind
2) Drinking and puking instead of coding
added on the 2009-08-13 20:00:10 by gloom gloom


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