Studying a Scene

The demoscene is a worldwide community and a long-standing branch of digital culture that revolves around the creation, watching and distribution of so-called demos: short, generally non-interactive real-time pieces of software that showcase their creators’ skills. Rooted in early home computer culture and software piracy, the demoscene (or just “the scene” for those in the know) has already existed for thirty years – and still does. The technological landscape and the world in general have changed plenty during those decades, and the community has adapted to new circumstances in its own particular ways, shaped by competition, meritocracy and international interchange. The relationship between the scene and contemporary technology has been my main research interest for quite a while already, and in this presentation I aim to provide you a peek into a group of technically competent, highly dedicated computer users and their ever-changing machines. As I have been an active demoscene member myself since the early 1990s, I will also discuss the pros and cons of studying a topic that is extremely close to you: what does an insider gain or lose when assuming the role of a researcher?