Monday, 18 July 2011

People forget it's just a hobby

As I grow up and gradually evolve my view concerning my involvement in the demoscene and other communities, I encounter amusing arguments from people inside the community concerning my activities. It's not a regular phenomenon and maybe I misunderstand what people meaned to say, yet it becomes more obviously weird to see these conflicting arguments since I have matured enough concerning my hobby and all these ideas sound like senseless arguing to me. Nowadays I am more detached from my hobby, or let's better say less obsessed with it, being there for the good things that it still gives me but not emotionally hard involved.

It was diferrent the very first time we've started. When I initially met the demoscene it was a whole new world for me and I have tried to make sense to it. Somehow it was connected to my personality too, so anyone dissing this hobby or giving it another touch would make me angry. Since this thing was connected deeply with my personality, I had imagined a static form describing it, preferably the one it felt more "right" to me. Thus, excessive argumentations concerning the nature of my hobby took part, like "dos demos VS windows demos" and such stuff. "My demoscene" couldn't fit this or that platform, demos shouldn't be this, demos should be that, etc. This is one instance of the absurdity even though you stop caring as you grow up.

Do you remember those people who are outside of your hobby and yet they insist arguing whether you should do what you do? Oh, why do you code demos? It's totally useless! This is the first case of people who don't understand the senselesness of arguing about this, because they forget it's just a hobby and it doesn't have to be "useful". The most possible reason for the inability to understand is that these people never had a real hobby. Though I have discussed about this case already in a very old blog post, I am just using it as a bridge to move on to a second type of very amusing cases.

Outsiders cannot understand why we are doing what we are doing and that's understandable. From the other side, I would expect that people who are inside this hobby would understand the glorious senselessness of what we are doing and not seek for a reason or question one. Yet one discovers some funny cases, maybe those people didn't mean it but it is truly hilarious that even your own kind doesn't get it. Say you meet an Amiga scener to whom you show your CPC demos. Ok, maybe Amstrad CPC is uninteresting to him and this is understandable but this is not related to the answer you get. The guy says, "Hmmm CPC. That's too primitive, why do you spend your time coding for such an obsolete machine?". Yeah right! While your Amiga is modern :P

That's not much different than saying "it makes sense as long as it's my platform". Yeah, Amiga doesn't sound so much primitive than CPC, but we forget that both sceners are doing demos which are "senseless" in itself. In my opinion even if the person arguing was only doing modern PC demos it wouldn't make a difference. Even if he would argue that at least he is also learning something modern that could be used in a job. But are we spending so much time just to fill our CV with experience? If that was the case then why not try to find a job instead of spending so much time doing demos? People forget that what we do doesn't necessary have to be "useful" in a real world sense. I didn't started being involved in the demoscene because I thought it would be a good career move. I didn't choose CPC instead of Amiga because I thought it would give me more relevant job experience. Hell, all I had in my mind was an endless love for retro and hobby programming, something that doesn't need to be explained in a "logical" way.

This is what happens when we have these hobbies (which we initially started out of passion) and at a later stage we try to rationalize our involvement. You were there. I was there too. Wondering why I spend so much time in the demoscene. Why such an effort for something that is just a hobby. When you worry about it, you try to make sense of it in comparison to the real world. You say, maybe it's just a hobby, but at least I have learned programming which might help me get a job. You say, hmm.. Amiga is not that primitive, I have learned some concepts I can still use. But is this the real reason or is it just a way to rationalize your hobby?

Funny thing, I have a "rational" explanation for this question. Programming takes a lot of time and effort. Why do it as a pure hobby? You could use your time different in the same time and gain some money. But then it's not about money. Then what is it for? Big effort needs huge motivation. You can't just sit and spend so many workhours for nothing! A friend told me this revealing idea: Fame is the money of the internet. Yes! While it's controversial to say that you are doing this for "fame" (also, it sounds too egoistic, so we could just switch this word with another, for example "expose") there is nothing else left. Every person, in every hobby that doesn't pay real money, there needs some kind of motivational force to be able to spend so much effort and time into the whole thing. Becoming popular to the community is a very good motive to push yourself to produce big things for no monetal gain. Why do you think that such big hard working communities of geeks thrive today? Everyone wants to hear good words about his work. People enjoy getting a good name in a community that matters. Thus, I don't doubt it anymore, fame is a primary motive in all these hobby communities and I could also use different words like glory or honor to make it not sound bad. But it's good and it's natural, since you are doing the hard work for a reason at the end. It was only bad when I was obsessing about it but now it's just a nice little bonus.

My brother once told me, these sceners are crazy! They are supposed to be an underground community who value limitless creativity just for the sake of it. Yet some people argue continuously whether demoscene should be this or that, whether a demo running on windows, dos, flash, assembly, c, etc should be a demo or not. Well, some of the times these flames are just for fun maybe. I know they don't mean it. It's only that everyone wants to be there and have an opinion to what his hobby should be about, sometimes being a bit too opinionated. If you have seen your hobby from an outer perspective, you stop being too obsessive about it and all these things are funny. Who cares if a demo is made in Flash. Do you like it? If you find it uninteresting because of lack of low level code then you can just move along. It's ok to say that it's not your cup of tea but denying this piece of work because it doesn't fit your little universe? Everything is fine regardless the platform / language / tools used as long as it tries to be creative or do something impressive.

In a nutshell, once I was curious about people outside my hobby who not only understand why I am doing what I am doing but arguing about how useless it is. Today, as I keep a distance from the demoscene, being there but not be too obsessed with it, being only active when I feel like, I see things with a more clear view. Thus, I discover that even people inside these communities who are supposed to understand free creativity without a reason, sometimes doesn't seem to get it. When I think about someone who argues about my retro platform being too old and useless while spending free time on a platform that is still retro by todays standard it makes me cringe. Not mentioning the fanatics (we all used to be once) who can't seem to understand that free creativity is the key to happiness. Even if one cannot understand the motivation behind some obscure demo releases, one should respect the free cretivity behind making the most "absurd" wild demos or coding for obsolete platforms that nobody ever uses. Well, seing people arguing about these stuff while you know the nature of the demoscene or other creative communities that do it for nothing, is amusing in the most strange way.

Thus, I end up with this strange random piece of thoughts from my side, making people wondering why do I waste so much time writting these senseless blog posts. Who cares..


  1. by definition, a hobby should be fun (to you), and that's the only requirement.
    explaining (to *ANYONE*) why is it's fun is just unnecessary (unless it's a part of the hobby itself, but unlikely).
    most people won't/can't understand.
    they should just understand it's fun to you - but usually, only real friends try to understand that.

    my hobbies are weird (uncommon), too. but they're fun to me. it's all that matters to me.

  2. Nicely said. I see from your blog you also have a quite tricky hobby too :)