Make the Demoscene You Want to See

The scene exists because of the people in it. Together we make the prods. We organize the parties. We stream the streams, give the commentary, connect in discussions online, and perpetuate silly memes.

Many of us have built years or even decades of heartwarming memories together. We have a feeling of family, of solidarity. Our closest friends are sceners, and they are there to help us celebrate our triumphs, and mourn those we lose.

The Demoscene Ethics Project is a team of sceners who want to carry on these traditions. The goal of this project is a demoscene full of vitality. Helping sceners support each other better is how we'd like to accomplish that.

A lively scene is one that welcomes and encourages newcomers and makes people of many backgrounds feel included. From visual artists and organizers to coders and musicians, a lively scene celebrates the contributions of folks of a variety of backgrounds. 

We all do our part to make the scene a better and more pleasant place to be. With that same desire to make things more pleasant for everyone, we have some ideas to help us all create and sustain a lively scene. These suggestions address the needs we've heard sceners express, and can be applied both online and offline.

Resisting Assumptions, Building Empathy

We can come to parties and demoscene spaces with the best intentions but still end up hurting our fellow sceners. One of the reasons for this is a process called category activation. When we meet someone, our brains subconsciously try to fit the person into categories that are already defined in our heads.

If we are not aware of this and do not think about it, category activation can lead us to making assumptions about fellow sceners which make us more likely to say painful things to each other.

Some examples of painful statements

Statements like these can make people feel that their abilities aren't real, or they don't belong in the scene. Experiences like these contribute to the overall level of stress as people who are marginalized face those same attitudes everywhere in their lives. The scene loses when people feel they don't belong, because they may stop releasing prods or coming to parties. And we lose because this is someone who could have been our friend.

Of course, the statements above are contextual. It's quite a different thing to say "What are you doing here?" e.g. to a visitor who entered an organizer area at a party or to a friend as an inside joke, but be mindful when using language described in the examples.

People who experie nce discrimination often may be afraid of how we will react if they say that we hurt them. So as demosceners we can make a more welcoming scene by avoiding painful statements, and stepping up to gently intervene when painful statements are made. And as sometimes we all make mistakes and hurt each other, let's be empathetic when someone tells us that we hurt them.

We also need to be careful which sorts of imagery we use to promote demoscene events. When we perpetuate stereotypes in our promotional materials, members of stereotyped groups may not see themselves as potential members of the demoscene or attendees of our events. This is another way we lose demosceners.

How we can help

Healthy Competition

It rules to feel celebrated and valued. It sucks to feel like nobody likes you or what you created, or that you haven't done your best.

Wanting to prove yourself is one source of the competitive fire that helps keep the scene alive. But there are healthy ways and unhealthy ways to keep that fire burning.

We need to soothe our pain when we feel we have failed, or are inadequate. One way we might do this is by finding someone "worse" to criticize, insult, or verbally attack. This creates a toxic atmosphere of insecurity feeding insecurity.  

It's fine to talk about ways a prod doesn't succeed. But saying stuff like "This is crap a three year old could make" is not productive.

How we can help

We can do this

Small everyday actions like these make a big difference.
Undoubtedly most sceners already do these things.
You can be among those who commit to taking positive action in the future.
If you want your name to be in the list of supporters for this document click/touch here. (update is done manually, so it might take a while for your name to appear)


The following folks have already declared their support for this effort (in no particular order):

❤    Together we make a better demoscene!    ❤