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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.
We of the Demoscene Ethics Project are a team of sceners who want to carry on these traditions. Our goal 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 folks of many backgrounds feel included. From visual artists and organizers to coders and musicians, a lively scene celebrates the contributions of folks with a variety of abilities.
We all do our part to make the scene a better and more pleasant place to be. Little things like remembering to flush the toilet at the partyplace and not puking on peoples' shoes make a big difference for the folks around you.
With that same desire to make things more pleasant for everyone, the Demoscene Ethics Project has 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.
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 things like the painful statements above.
Statements like these can make folks feel that their abilities aren't real, or they don't belong in the scene. Experiences like these contribute to folks' overall level of stress as they face those same attitudes elsewhere in their lives. The scene loses when folks 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. Folks who experience this kind of treatment often may feel 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 intervene when painful statements are made.
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.
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.
Folks need to soothe their pain when they feel they have failed, or are inadequate. One way they do this is by finding someone "worse" than they are 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 very productive.
Small everyday actions like these make a big difference. There are sceners who already do these things. You can be among those who commit to taking positive action.
To foster the spread of this approach in the scene, we encourage sceners to become public supporters of the Demoscene Ethics project.
Submit your handle and group name to add yourself to the list of supporters.
The following folks have already declared their support for this effort:
❤ Together we make a better demoscene! ❤