Forgotten pioneers of demoscene research?

Usually, George Borzykowski’s 1996 study “The Hacker Demo Scene and Its Cultural Artifacts” is considered the first scholarly treatment of the demoscene as a phenomenon in its own right. However, without questioning the pioneering character of Borzykowski’s work, it appears now that demoscene research is older than assumed. The German sociologists Roland Eckert, Waldemar Vogelsang, Thomas A. Wetzstein, and Rainer Winter conducted a study of “computer freaks” in 1990, and published their results in a collective monograph, “Auf digitalen Pfaden. Die Kulturen von Hackern, Programmierern, Crackern und Spielern”, the following year. In the chapter on the cracking scene, they dedicate several pages on the back-then new phenomenon of intro coders, graphics artists and musicians within pirate groups beginning to care less about the cracked games and more about producing standalone intros and demos. The authors see in this development a potential for a new form of digital art, and they introduce the term “demoscene” as a self-description by the scene’s participants. Read a detailed summary of this forgotten pioneer work in our bibliography.

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