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Demoscene accepted as UNESCO cultural heritage in Germany (demoscene-the-art-of-coding.net)
1107 points by quakeguy 30 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 136 comments

Beautiful times. I especially loved swapping - that is you got a list of people and their addresses from a magazine and you saved on disks your favourite demos and zines (preferable those nobody else had) and then you added some random stuff for example label off your favourite drink, wrote some poems, maybe added a dried flower and so on and then you also added postage stamps. Then you were hoping that whoever received it on the other side liked it and he or she would have sent you something else. Sometimes you would just just pass on the disks you received and just added your name to a txt file or some funny looking directory. There was also a trick to put a glue over your stamps and it was the custom that the person would send you those stamps back so you could then dissolve the postage stamp and reuse them :-) The internet somewhat killed this unfortunately. Decades later I still remember the feeling of a postman holding packages in his hands from various places in the world and the excitement, what am I going to find? I miss that.

Oh man, the stamp trick was so cool!

I had a PO box where all the packages were sent to. I still can remember how excited I was, riding my bike (I was 15) to the postal office and open that treasure chest full of foreign packages. I'm from The Netherlands and did a lot of swapping with people from Belgium, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Yes, real good times with a lot of friendly people.

Oh, how I envied those PO Boxes you guys got down in Europe - Up north, it was practically impossible to get one of those for non-businesses, and especially a no-go for broke teenagers!

It's funny how there are regional differences in how to avoid the postage fees. I remember friends switching sender and recipient on the letter and then not using any stamps instead. (Not that I ever tried that myself.) I had never heard of the glue trick. :D

You might enjoy Reddit’s secret Santa thing. It’s not demoscene oriented of course but the idea of sending and receiving random cheap gifts is neat. Plus a number of celebrities participate and when was the last time you participated in a gift exchange along with Ian McKellen?

Presumably the risk of receiving a bag of poop is suitably low?

I participated this year and I wound up with a full book trilogy in a genre I really like and I wound up buying someone a relatively new video game for their current console. It was a very pleasant experience and I will now likely participate further.

I think they've done it for 8 years now to good success.

It’s been some time since I took part, but besides one time (got a very simplistic board game for children) I got something cool and fitting every time. I actually still have the motivational sloth poster "live slow, die whenever" hanging in my office :)

The much bigger risk seems to be that you don’t get anything. But they have strict rules and if you don’t send your gift you can never do it again.

Thankfully. Seems like the bigger risk is of the Secret Santa not actually sending anything; I'm hesitant to do it because I know I'll be that asshole who spaces out and forgets about it.

They do send you loads of reminders. I had similar concerns but had no issues.

In Germany we had pink PLK cards, which you got without an ID and where you could sent packages to (I held on to mine for a very long time).

One day the police was waiting in front of the post office and got a friend of mine.

Grew up in West Germany when the Demoscene was at it's height, but never heard of "pink PLK cards". Could you give a hint what that is?

EDIT: Found it "Postlagerkarte"[1], I have heard that term before, but never was aware what it was. It feels strange that at a time you could do things easily, legally and anonymously, all at the same time. As a minor, at that. Let alone anonymously sending things to strangers. Admittedly I miss that world more than the Demoscene.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postlagerkarte

Take a look, first-name-fellow! :D https://gotpapers.scene.org/?p=849

Thanks, excellent article - no questions left. Günter von Gravenreuth also rings a bell, haven't read that name in a long time.

>Günter von Gravenreuth also rings a bell, haven't read that name in a long time

He died in 2010, maybe that's why we haven't heard much of him recently. De mortuis nil nisi bonum, but he was a bit of an annoyance.

For some reason I totally missed this time. Can you let me know when the demoscene roughly had its peak?

Friends of mine had the police search their houses in 1987 for exchanging cracked C64 games with people all over West Germany. They were still adolescents, so they got away with a 100DM fine.

I was just a harmless teenager, copying games from friends (but also buying quite a few), but it seems I closer to some high profile crackers than I would have imagined. I wonder how many of them became part of the Demoscene.

This has to be one of the most cryptic comments I have ever read! :D

What is a PLK card, and what did your friend do?!?

EDIT: I shouldn't have run to Wikipedia; much better explanation at scene.org (go figure): https://gotpapers.scene.org/?p=849


PLK = "PostLagerKarte", literally "mail storage card". It was (abolished 1991) a way to receive letters anonymously; like a P.O. box without your name attached to it. The [Wikipedia page](https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postlagerkarte) even explicitly mentions its "illegal usage in the computing scene", so GP was likely referring to his friend using their P.O. box for (illegally) cracked software.

Here's a shot at translating that Wikipedia paragraph:

> Until their abolition, PLK cards were especially popular in the cracker scene because, compared to a regular P.O. box, no personal data had to be shared with the respective post office. PLKs were primarily used for anonymous sending and receiving of pirated software on floppy disks. [citation needed imho] The PLK addresses themselves were often listed digitally in the cracktros.

pretty much a temporary "PO box" you could get anonymously. You bought a card with a code from your post office, and then people could send stuff to the post office addressed to that number, and the card holder could pick them up. Relatively popular with the cracker/warez szene.

This comment would make a good TikTok video. Just record a video and do a voice over on it. You will educate many people this way about the old ways.

Some influencers on TikTok actually set up PO Boxes where fans can send them tons of stuff. The idea may not be too far gone.

stamps back!

I'm a (retired? infinitely procrastinating?) demoscener and to be frank I've never understood this effort. What does it help anyone that some bureacrats somewhere put the demoscene on the same list as folk dances, saunas, and "the Gastronomic meal of the French"?

I mean sure, it's impressive that they pulled it off - I wouldn't expect whoever decides these things to understand much about computer art subcultures, but I don't know what the benefit is, to anyone.

EDIT: I just realized that of course the answer is, like anything demosceners do, "because we can". What was I thinking?

If something becomes a thing in bureaucrats world then it also means it opens a door for receiving funding. Then your family member or friend create a foundation or something and then apply for those funds. Maybe they ran out of things and figured out there was something called demoscene. They don't do it out of good will. At least not in my opinion based on experience.


I never understood how people can have views this simplistic.

I understand when views lack some nuance, but this is absolutely puzzling to me.

After you watch your taxes used to fuel wars and murder and there is no way to opt out or meaningfully vote for anything different, this is a completely rational view to take.

Just because the theft is by a group elected by a majority doesn’t make it not theft.

You can wax on as much as you want about the importance of government revenue, safety nets, and defense, but it doesn’t fundamentally change the fact that the source is currently money taken by force from the people.

Because the market is perfect and will foster the most beautiful arts efficiently, right?

There is some requirement for coordination in a societal level, taking taxes to fund what bureaucrats like to foster is imperfect but so far looks like the better alternative than just letting private and profit-driven interests drive what's culture or not.

What's your alternative?

Some of the best and most innovative art I've seen was developed wholly by public funding.

I can't imagine how it is in the USA, where art lives and dies by how marketable it is.

It occurs to me that the (newer) experimental art I have seen from America was developed by wealthy people with loads of free time; the era of wandering jazz and blues musicians having long since passed.

> the era of wandering jazz and blues musicians having long since passed.

That era wasn’t government funded either. What’s your point?

It's over. It was done by wandering poor people and there's no longer a strong market demand for it.

you are not paying attention if you think that the US has some kind of dearth of musicians and artists. the internet has made it easier than ever to create a profile and cultivate an audience.

How many of those artists are earning a living at it, and are not engaging in that production in their leisure time as relatively wealthy people?

Moreover, if I haven't heard of it, then the signal isn't stronger than the noise. It's not particularly _interesting_.

none of the artists i know have made a living at it, and yet it has stopped precisely none of them. they are not wealthy people. do poor nations lack artists? this entire line of thinking is completely divorced from reality. just because the municipal government doesn't pay for as many murals or whatever does not mean artists cease to work.

>none of the artists i know have made a living at it, and yet it has stopped precisely none of them

Which is a big, bold underscore on the argument that copyright should be abolished. Almost no artists make a living from their work, rendering it a failure at its supposed goal. All it is doing is providing artificial capital for a handful of fat cat media companies and the handful of parasitic artists privileged to be a part of that scene. The vast majority of artists will never get a break, and will have to work to subsidize their art. And what does society get out of the copyright game? Less creative freedom to remix and a select few people get richer.

UBI would do more to encourage art.

They are wealthy enough to have the leisure time to produce art with instruments of non-trivial expense.

Moreover, they aren't going to be producing art which requires a full time effort if they cannot feedthemselves doing so.

this may surprise you, but art precedes bureaucratic patronage networks, and continues to flourish in their absence

There's a good chance the funding will come from charities. Most likely ones funded by people who made money in computers.

Well, for starters, now funds can be allocated to preserve software and hardware that are necessary to keep experiencing the demoscene. Demoscene releases will be archived and - likely - added to secure vaults.

50, 100 or 500 years from now, the ones coming after us now have a better chance to experience Equinox, or Fairlight, or Melon Dezin the same way we today experience Brügel, or Dürer, or Cezanne. School classes will analyze the hacks necessary for a parallax scroller, and be eternally bored of it. And some enthusiasts will copy the techniques.

It's not a bad thing, especially given the demoscene is bot extremely creative and absolutely nonexistant on today's art market, so will likely have disappeared with the demosceners in 20-50 years.

" School classes will analyze the hacks necessary for a parallax scroller, and be eternally bored of it."

I hope not. Forcing anyone into it, kills the spirit of it, they were supposed to find. But that would be nothing new with classical school, so ..

Also, it pushes for some preservation of the execution environments of these programs. It's now more likely that someone will make sure that there's a runnable version of qemu (or similar) that emulates well enough to run them.

I think the analogy an earlier poster made with folk dances was more accurate. school classes might mention it in passing as a subculture, and people who want to know will have resources to explore it further.

> Funds

My understanding is that there's no free money attached to being on a UNESCO list.

Not directly - but grants now can be argued with "this is actually UNESCO relevant". For an organization like the ZKM in Karlsruhe (a modern technology/art museum, which I would consider a major interest in this development), secondary, well-argued grants by local authorities and fonds are a major source of income.

> School classes will analyze the hacks necessary for a parallax scroller,

Highly doubtful claim.


Maybe exposure? I wasn't involved in the scene creatively, but I did experience it in all its glory in the early 90's. I was blown away by the creativity and it was the highlight of running my BBS. Your negativity is kind of disappointing, you don't have to be so punk about it. We're all old now.

Why the personal attack?

It wasn't meant to be personal. I guess the tone I was looking for was lost so I apologize if that's how it got conveyed.

Like I said earlier, I was into that scene in the early 90's and it was very much a cool kids club, we were doing amazing work (I was really proud of my BBS and all of the ANSI art I slaved over). This was always an underground elite scene that really only mattered to us.

Anyway, I was just trying to say that everyone that contributed to the scene should be proud and not diminish the great art that was created. My "punk" (as in punk rock fan) comment was that you should not diminish or under value the artistic contribution of the scene now that's it's being recognized by a more mainstream crowd.

Ah! Thanks :-)

But then I think I wasn't clear, I wasn't undervaluing the art (quite the contrary, I love demos). If anything, I was undervaluing the UNESCO list. :-)

But then I changed my mind because surely if some sceners think it's a list worth being on, then in my mind, it sort of by definition is.

The comment spoke to behavior, not the person.

This is often conflated into a personal attack, and it should not be.

What we do is not who we are, just saying.

Ahh yes, the old I didn't call you a b#tch, I said you are acting like a b#tch ;)

That's legit!


We have a lot of angst online for failure to understand this distinction.

Take a basic scenario:

Good person gets called out for doing shitty things vs bad person getting called out doing shitty things.

What's the difference?

In terms of the shitty things? No difference at all. Doing shitty things is undesirable.

Where to go from there?

Personal judgement, and that's where the real personal attack actually is.

Frankly, failure to grok that diminishes the value of an actual personal attack while also at the same time marginalizing discussion on behavior that is or may not be shitty.

And here's a variation on that for you, just for shits and giggles:

You know, I've heard other people say you are a dick, but never believed it until now.


Where did I get that one?

My wife said it to a policeman who had just got done beating me up in my driveway because I would not allow access into my home without a warrant. Yes, I grinned. Got the message across without actually speaking to them as a person.

Truth is, their action did all the telling necessary.

One last variation on this:

Say we've got a racist handy and they do or say something basically racist.

We could declare, "you are a racist!" and render personal judgement and trigger a whole bunch of discussion that won't get anyone anywhere, but it may be gratifying.

Or, we could say, "that comes off as racist, are you sure you want to go there?" Or some variation on that.

The difference, while subtle, is in the former case we've made a personal judgement that is hard to get away from, or past.

The latter is speaking to behavior. People can make different choices later on, entertain advocacy, even ask for help having never been judged. Getting past that is an order easier.

...all of which is why people dislike personal attacks!

Who likes being judged? I don't.

And there we are back to this whole thing. Nobody judged anyone. They communicated how behavior comes off to others and that's it.

Since there was no judgement, no personal attack, all it really boils down to some feedback that the commenter can use to make different choices in the future, or not, no worries at all.

This meta discussion, is unfortunate, but worth it, if any passers by take away the difference.

this is so the scene could be remembered.

be it unesco, internet archive, the big museums, whatever works. as we are losing more and more control over the hardware and software that we buy, the scene and anything similar will ultimately disappear.

demoscene reason d'etre is antithetical to museums. But i think this is very fitting for a time when, as you say, "we are losing more and more control over the hardware and software that we buy"

This may be a huge ego trip or pure gatekeeping, but I never wrote anything that I expected people to run, look at the pretty pixels, and be done.

You cannot be truly impressed if you don't know the effort to put that art into a tiny file or abuse the hardware in ways never seen before. If you never fired a debugger or other development/reverse engineering tool, then you missed most it had to offer. And IMHO you never connected to the artist in any way.

If pouet.net isn't a huge museum, then what is it?

A cesspool of trolls? :-)

(not saying it isn't also a huge museum btw)

It presumably helps somewhat if you want to find sponsors, or locations to hold parties, if you can point at an official list on which you are and say "look! this is a real thing! important people think this is worth doing!"

Other than that, well, there really isn't a downside, so yeah, why not.

History is worth preserving. When future generations examine what kind of art we made, we want them to discover demoscene art as part of that. It is a huge disservice to both the creators as well as the students by omitting it from the historical record.

It also serves to offer some protection against future attempts to outlaw it.

Given how much of general purpose computation we lose every year to walled-gardens/prisons, I think it might help a wee bit now and then.

For a very relevant example in Germany: Getting recognized as "art" or "culturally relevant" affords certain protections against media censorship that consumer media usually don't get.

Censorship that contrary to popular belief is not only reserved to Nazi themes/glorification but can also happen over too gruesome depictions of violence and other topics edging on the Overton window.

Which in practice lead to the reality that the original Doom game, an undeniable cornerstone of modern video-game culture which has by now become very much mainstream, used to be banned in Germany, in it's censored German version until 2011, the original US version of Doom II was only "unbanned" in 2019 [0]

The long term consequences of decades of activism about "video games and violence" [1] coupled with a complete disregard of the idea that such a new digital medium could contribute in any meaningful ways to society.

[0] https://www.schnittberichte.com/news.php?ID=15460

[1] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killerspiel

you're in null demo mode, waiting for v-sync to trigger

ha, upvote for the realization "because we can". Perfect

If they intend to maintain an archive of all the demos ever created then I will volunteer one of my old 128Mb USB drives to mirror it.

Demos are still made nowadays. http://www.pouet.net/ lists 84845 prods in archive (although that includes tools, engines, etc.)

If you want to mirror, https://files.scene.org/faq/ says its archive is about 2TB, or about 15625 of your old 128MB USB disks :P The archive from 1990 demoparties is already 5GB!

I know your comment was probably tongue-in-cheek, I just wanted to share the actual numbers.

That will fit approximately 1 modern demo, give or take.

lol, considering that 4 kilobyte Windows executables are the cool thing these days, it would fit way more :P


This brings back memories of visiting the Computer game museum in Berlin. It’s a small museum dedicated to early computer games and also has preserved a number of early demos. Worth a visit if you ever find yourself with a couple hours of free time there. Oh they also have a working giant Atari and NES controller.



Second Reality by Future Crew https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTjnt_WSJu8 ( It is considered to be one of the best demos created during the early 1990s on the PC)

I had a 386/40DX that could run Second Reality, and I was blown away. When I upgraded to a 486/66DX2 the first thing I did was run Second Reality, and I was shocked at how much of the demo content I had missed before from parts being truncated.

Also it’s worth noting that a lot of Second Reality’s source code got released to GitHub several years back: https://github.com/mtuomi/SecondReality and here’s an incredibly deep dive into the code: https://fabiensanglard.net/second_reality/

Finally, here’s some rare footage of the creation of the legendary demo: https://youtu.be/LIIBRr31DIU (English subtitles available)

That one blew me away. Another one I remember fondly is Dope by Complex[1], from 1995.

My computer at the time could barely play the the soundtrack itself in the tracker, it had so many active channels. The demo itself was a slideshow. Fortunately my friend had a 486/DX4 100MHz, so I got to watch it there.

To put this in perspective, there's no graphical acceleration involved here at all, everything pixel to be done on the CPU. And the microcontroller in the coffee maker at work is about as fast[2] as my friends 486[3].

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtXxM0pezAs

[2]: https://blog.stratifylabs.co/device/2019-05-20-Dhrystone-Ben...

[3]: http://www.netlib.org/performance/html/dhrystone.data.col0.h...

And once you've finished that, go to Real Reality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1f6UE27KTo Second Reality without a computer :)

Hahahaha damn! This made my day!

And then you check out Second Reality 64 by Smash Designs https://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=1216

Yes, it's Second Reality on the Commodore 64 <3

This news comes right at the moment I am rendering demoscenes 4kb intro in 8K60 quality on YouTube :)


pretty cool!

I always wondered why demo scene was so culturally impactful in Europe but not in the US. I wonder if it’s due to the fact that Amiga was a lot more popular in Europe than US.

After almost 40 years I came to the realization, that Europe hacked everything away (C64, I as someone from Beastie Boys can confirm), while in the United States they had developers that tried to figure out from the beginning how to commercialize their work, thus shareware etc. was born. Doom for example would have never earned a dime in Germany. Also VisiCalc etc. Professional software had a tough time especially in Europe.

My point of view. So hacking was and stayed your main option in Europe during the 80th, 90th.

Yes! I made some of those demos in the 80s as a teenager, not even realizing there was any value in coding. I was going to be a metal god or a mechatronics engineer, which ever came first.

Kid me had so many c64 games with your intros on them downloaded from local BBSs. Thanks for all the cracks!

Adult me wishes she could go back and actually pay the authors of all those games but then again I think most of them weren’t even available in the US...

US culture is way more inclined towards business than European culture. American tech-enthusiasts were thinking about how to make money. Some European enthusiasts were, too, but not at all as singled-mindedly as US ones, no wonder the US owns the tech industry today. Games were a big driver for everyone on both sides, so both sides got a significant piece of the pie there (Asia was way too far back then, and arguably ahead of either).

I started learning to program in 1985, was part of a somewhat relevant demo group, attended The Assembly '94 in Helsinki, helped organize some enocounters in my country, etc...

Unsurprisingly Free/Libre Software developers tend to be based in Europe (as percentage over population of developers).

The Amiga was definitely a big factor.

For one it was a “cathedral”, not a “bazaar” in the sense that it had more or less the same hardware on all models.

The hardware was nicely balanced: small enough that you could learn it all, yet complex enough to keep tweaking and pushing its limits for a long time.

It also had a long life, so you could get really good at it. People were using their 500s from the 80s well into the 90es.

Contrast with his to PCs where there was a plethora of different hardware components for CPU models, graphics and sound - a “bazaar”.

At the early stages the standardised Amiga was just much easier for the devs.

Later the PCs became so powerful that the energy moved there anyway - but I still remember the shock of the terribly messy instruction set on the PCs after switching from the nice and clean 68k.

For me personally that was when I stopped. It was simply not joyful to work with.

That's funny, I had the same reaction to the difference between the 68k and 80286 instruction sets. I enjoyed writing 68k assembly on an Amiga 1000. Then (around 1990) I got a 286 PC and looked at an assembly language book in a bookstore. I put the book back on the shelf and thought "this is horrible, I don't want to deal with this mess".

I thought it was just me.

Similar story here. I actively opted for M68k assembly over higher level languages on more than one occasion. Then I switched to Linux on a PC, took one look at x86 assembly and didn't touch assembly again for many years.

The demo scene was big on 8-bit machines "long" (by 1980's home-computing time scales) before the Amiga became a big factor.

I remember people still running Amigas and software for it (MPEG1 video players, Winamp clones, NES emulators...) in 1999.

Another important aspect was the social networks of the time.

We had computer clubs in many cities. Clubs had their zines. These were focal points for meeting other would-be sceners.

The demo scene was organised in groups with members spread around the country, so we would go to some of the many “copy parties” in the weekends to meet and show off coding skills or music or puzzle over reverse engineering games.

The dense European geography and good public transport was a big factor, too. Without a car and not old enough for a license, I remember taking the bus to Viborg to hang out with people from their big computer club for the weekends, some of whom had published games commercially. This was a great inspiration, too.

My view is that mainly because of so many different countries in Europe it was much more interesting to see what someone across the border could do and it was kind of a healthy competition and interestingly it was never based on nationalism, but on simple human difference of perspectives. It was a pure art, expression not motivated by money but from the will to create and impress. To push computers of the time to their limits, create something thought to be impossible. I wish these principles were applied in modern software development. For example why do we need few GHz CPU and GBs of RAM to run a text editor?

There was quite a strong underground demoscene in South Africa - and Amiga was relatively popular (Amiga 500 if I recall). So perhaps you're right?

I certainly miss those days!

Some cultural evolution is quite random and idiosyncratic. The US had a way big photocopied zine subculture in the 90s, and reading these comments I can see a lot of similar patterns of young people mailing and sharing their creations amd expressions. Sometimes a few influential individuals or events can really kick off a wave of cultural innovation, but I also think that the spread of Kinkos in the US during the 90s and them hiring a lot of low-wage kids who would scam copies for their friends and siblings laid the groundwork for zines in the way that Amiga’s market efforts in Europe did for the demoscene.

I would also argue that in the US, startup funding and entrepreneurship is a lot more available to people considered to be "inexperienced in business" by traditional banks, leading to creative energy in Europe instead flowing into more artistic endeavours.

Also, note how the vast majority of demoscene groups were in Scandinavia, places with long winters.

As someone not from Europe (nor the US), this is literally the first time I've heard demoscene.

After reading Wikipedia article I'm still a little bit confused. Could someone do a ELI5?

It's a challenge to see who can get the most impressive visuals in a specified size of memory or other restrictions.

It dates back to when early games and software were pirated by teams. Each team would try and leave their intro video in the game as their signature, trying to one up each other.

Then it just turned into it's own form of competitive Development.

Basically you get some incredibly small amount of memory, and it's about trying to be as clever as possible to get the coolest visuals in there.

Many prominent graphics engineers were involved. Some of them even worked at studios like Pixar, making things like the vegetation systems on Brave.

The simplest explanation is that it's people making programs for the sake of it, not for any practical purpose.

And such people (as people do) tend to coagulate into a community around that interest, sharing results and techniques and overall socializing!

I'm from Brazil and wasn't even born yet at the time, but if you want to easily see a bit of what demos were, one of their "modern equivalents", so to speak, would be Shadertoy [1]. There are also videos of old demos, and I'm sure there are archives of the programs, but I haven't searched for them either.

It's a way programmers have to show off, have fun or be artistic. You write a programme but you restrict yourself in some way such as creating it for a 1980s era computer or by file size say the entire thing has to fit inside 4KB or some other extreme limit, and then you try to do things using visuals and/or music that you initially wouldn't think are possible.

This comment section is missing something absolutely essential. Let's fix that right now:



Having experienced the Amiga and PC demoscenes when they were happening, this is one of those statements that comes as a surprise, but then, after a little consideration, makes perfect sense.

It is celebrating a cultural movement during a moment in time.

I've enjoyed my time in the C64 and later the PC demoscene and I'm amazed it's still going pretty strong. Perhaps not on the level it was at during what was arguably its peak in the mid-90s, but still.

It has certainly shaped a fairly large group of people currently working in our industry, even if they were only tangentially aware of the scene (perhaps with cracked games as a gateway drug, as it was in my case).

Kudos for getting this organized.

The bit of international significance: "As the previous decision in Finland helped convince the experts in Germany, today’s decision is a huge tailwind for the ongoing applications in other countries like France, Switzerland, and Poland. And the more countries will have listed the Demoscene, the more likely an international joint application for the Demoscene to be recognized as humanity’s cultural heritage becomes."

Blown away by all the positive comments and stories relating to our initiative, thank you all for the good vibes and thoughtful comments, and for everybody being part or being inspired by the scene over the decades!

And as always it's a team effort: https://twitter.com/Dedux/status/1374040818810548228?s=20 & see also http://demoscene-the-art-of-coding.net/supporters/ It will take some more years to get from a country level to an international application. So we are still looking for more (ex)-sceners and supporters helping to file applications in more countries - so if that resonates with you, don´t hesitate to get in touch or join our Discord. http://demoscene-the-art-of-coding.net/demosceners/ Thank you!

Really excited to see this. Being part of the scene was absolutely fundamental to finding passion in tech and understanding how creative the process is at the core.

I worry about anything heritage-/tourism-related being deeply conservative and possibly resulting in things getting fixed down or watered down, or otherwise ceasing to evolve/getting tied up with national/international bureaucratic apparatuses. But the people involved seem to be happy from what little I've seen (as an outsider), so it's probably ok here?

I'd wager the demoscene is pretty conservative to begin with. All the comporules and jargon derive from the Warez/cracker scene in the late eighties and haven't really changed much since - only the capabilities of the hardware has.

Eg: an "intro" means a demo made against a size limit. It's called an intro because cracked games were spread with little introductory animations (sine-scrollers, chiptunes, you know the drill) by the cracking groups. These couldn't take too much space lest the game got too big to easily distribute. Then, people started making intros without having a game to distribute them with, and the rest is history.

But that's >30 years ago now and we still use the same term and the same size limits (4k, 64k) as back then.

In that line of argument, we should destroy historic monuments and art museums, because they hold back art, and any building older than 30 years, because they hold back modern architecture.

Preserving something good does not mean not accepting new developments. And sometimes, especially with architecture, "something good" can be an ensemble of stuff - e.g. you don't put a modernist glass/steel building on the town square of a picturesque medieval town.

That's a fair point, though I think you're intensifying and extrapolating my feelings too far :P

For some cultural/creative practices that are dear to me, I'd be ok with seeing them die out than become bureaucratised/preserved/reified. On the other hand, I love classical music, which could scarcely be less institutionalised and sclerotic, and I value historical, ethnographical and scholarly work about culture. I have all these slightly-conflicting feelings at once.

I'd rather they were preserved. I was never part of the demo scene (wrong continent, wrong age) but I feel amazed by it. I'm also interested in early home computers and early computers in general, and so I wish them to be available in some form I can touch, for example museums.

It's tragic how much stuff related to computers, their history and their software we've lost already.

The UNESCO listing is a pretty big tent so this feels right. It’s not a Taj Mahal or Sydney Opera House but only a few things are.

It's not a vague "UNESCO listing" in the same category as or competing with built heritage. It's specifically being recorded as intangible heritage, which is a category that covers a lot of interesting traditions, many fairly humble, such as craft techniques.


This seems appropriate. My area has had a big outdoor traditional folk music festival for nearly twenty years (it ended pre-COVID though due to rising costs) so I've long had an appreciation for things like that. Irish and Acadian music, blues and jazz, sacred steel, Japanese drumming, Tuvan throat singing...there's a whole wealth of art out there that has historical and cultural importance, but will never be marketable in the mainstream. It's important to record and promote that.

The Demoscene fits right in, as a short lived subculture that grew out of a radical democratization of technology.

As a past and sometimes current demoscener, this warms my heart to see our art form recognized in this way.

It's long been frustrating to see curations of digital art that conspicuously exclude the scene. And now the little subculture I participate in is suddenly internationally recognized!

I truly hope that this means we'll start seeing curated digital art shows that are displays of the depth, breadth, and history of the scene.

As a young wannabe technologist who grew up in very rural America. The scene was one of not only the first online scenes I encountered, but also some of the first people I regularly interacted with internationally...irrevocably bursting the insular bubble it's so easy to fall into in rural America.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jY5Vrc5G0lk -> Debris, winner of the demo competition at Breakpoint 2007 in Bingen, Germany.

I've still got this on one of my old hard drives, it's something like 150kb if I recall. Really quite amazing.


I believe this may have been the grandaddy of demos in Europe:

Sodan & Magician 42 - TechTech - Amiga Demo https://youtu.be/mB5CujcTN8A



Ha, amazing timing, I was just talking about this a few days ago on that other thread about the c64 Mind Is Born demo https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26511266

Great! I love the scene. The art, and fun learning. Technical acumen coupled with art can speak to tech in a liberating and empowering way.

And new tricks on old hardware. I always muse over what current gear could really do.

This really made my day. I’ve marveled at the skill of demoscene folks for a long time, surely in the class of great artists and worth preserving and encouraging.

I love computer demos! Is there any good page / book / videos on how to make effects such as sinus scrollers, vector graphics and effects?

For old school effects there's a pretty good page here with full source:


Sadly all my CPC/Amiga demos are lost to time.

If they were submitted to demo parties or shared in another fashion, the demoscene has it at pouet.net or demozoo.net or scene.org

What was your CPC pseudonym?

Probably Amstrad CPC, an 8-bit computer series mostly popular in Europe.

Yes, I know; I was technical editor of the last surviving Amstrad CPC magazine in Britain. I was asking what pseudonym/handle GP wrote demos under - I wondered whether it was one I'd remember.

Oops, got it. :)

That wasn't the question.

This is wonderful! It was a huge part of me when growing up, and I still bond with others when we discover our common past.


They're not exempt from cancel culture. A few years ago, a festival in Europe was removed because it made fun of Jews. There isn't a lot of albino baby eating or sacrificing of slave girls either. It's kind of stupid as a long term preservation because everything is filtered through what's compatible with contemporary western culture.

People have had the same canceling ideas before but with their own cultural filters. Iconoclasts destroyed ancient artwork, and Chinese communists destroyed ancient things in the cultural revolution.

Imagine if all historical records of ancient Greece or Rome had been expunged of objectionable content as decided by every dominant culture that existed between then and now. We would have almost nothing left.

An NFT opportunity for the scammers out there?

There seem to be a fair few people who are part of the demoscene here, so I suppose this is as good a place as any to ask:

What is the demoscene's take on NFTs?

No horse in the race, just interested to hear what the general attitude is.

I suppose the downvotes speak for themselves...

> Today on the suggestion of the national Unesco expert committee, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs decided to accept the Demoscene as German intangible cultural heritage. The decision acknowledges the long and living tradition the Demoscene has in Germany, with Revision, Breakpoint, and Evoke among other demoparties shaping the landscape of major international gatherings of the demoscene for decades.

Ah yes, the experts who arbitrary decide such matters based on politics and tourist revenue estimations.

So has Currywürst been a part of German culture for decades, but apparently it is not included, perhaps because it's fastfood. — our overlords move in mysterious ways.

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