The Party 9 - React!
by Curt Cool/Depth (Amiga)
(This article should perhaps have been named: The Party 9 - Reactions, but the above title seems more appropriate. Thanks to Ghandy, it has been published in both Showtime on Amiga and Hugi on PC.)
I have recently returned from The Party 9 - my personal eighth The Party, since I joined the scene in 1992 at The Party 2. And as some of you may know, the quality of The Party has been going downhill ever since the first one which saw the release of many Amiga demos, and The Party 2, which first introduced the 40k intro concept - at those two parties more than 40 Amiga demos and 25 Amiga intros were released - perhaps those of you who own or used to own an Amiga remember classics like Hardwired, Odyssey and Enigma from The Party 1, or State of the Art and Tetris.exe from The Party 2.
Yet it is not the releases which count here - the releases at The Party have always been pretty decent, due to the great cash prizes, which have always attracted a big amount of people, and due the fact that The Party have always been regarded a traditional meeting place for many sceners across all platforms. But during the last 2-3 years, the percentage of sceners has been going downhill, whereas the amount of lamers (which pretty much includes anyone who is not interested in demos and are not doing anything creative with their computers) has grown - and this year, it has grown skyhigh. Of course, some people would say: Okay, but they pay for the prizes - the far-to-high entrance fee of 350 dkr. should ensure that. But it is a problem, as is the fact that you have to pay 350 dkr. for about 52 hours of effective party time - especially considering that The Party 2 costed only about 130 dkr. - as you can easily deduct, the entrance fee has risen with about 175% in seven years for a party which is not incredibly much better than the one seven years ago - of course, the network costs money, not to forget the internet gateway, but as far as I know, it was at least partly sponsored by Compaq which is why it doesn't justify such a rise in the entrance fee. The amount of competitions have risen as well, but again, that doesn't justify it either - considering that a true scene party like the Symposium Mekka only costs about 150 dkr. or so, regarding the entrance fee.
Anyhow, as you may know by now, The Party 9 was in many ways spoiled by several organizerial problems, as it has been in the last few years: In 1997 there was a huge power breakdown where the partyhall was in the dark for several hours, in 1998 the network did not work and the net votesystem made it far too easy to cheat. In 1999 the organizers lost many contributions due to a faulty net delivery system (lost contributions have also been a problem during earlier years, but never as badly as this), and the voting system hadn't been basically changed (though it had already been proven the year beefore that cheating was too easy), which means that certain Finnish groups had an easy time getting very high and pretty undeserved positions in several competitions, especially on the Amiga (which means 40k intro, demo and 4channel music). None of the releases at this years The Party has been true classics, not on the Amiga at least, and as far as I have heard from several pc sceners, most of the pc releases weren't exactly top-notch either.
Blame the lame...
Of course, all these things have a reason. And I dare say that a great deal of the problems goes back to the amount of non-creative pc-owners at The Party. This means: The people who went there to use the network system to leech pc warez, mp3's and porn. The people who went there to chat and use the internet gateway. The people with no interest in the scene and in demos, scene music and graphics whatsoever - the, I write and mean the word honestly, LAMERS. And judging from the general look of things at The Party 9, these people were indeed the majority:
The amount of Windows screens running ftp programs, jpg-viewers and netgames was indeed much higher than those screens with an assembler, a tracker or a creative graphics package.
The general public seemed to think that the sceners were lame or plain stupid: Question to Corial/Focus Design who didn't bring his machine: How come you didn't bring your computer to a NET-party?
The competitions which brought in the biggest audience was the Coca-Cola drinking and Burger-eating competitions, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the scene at all.
But why is this so bad? They pay our prizes, right? Perhaps, but after all, we also pay a bit of their prizes for the game competitions etc., and we pay for the internet gateway and some of the net facilities which is of very little use to most of the sceners at the party itself.
But sure, they too are to blame for the cheating in the competition - at The Party 9, the votesystem worked in such a way that you got a votekey after paying the entrance fee which would make you able to vote on the net once - but when 90% of the party people doen't have an interest in voting, it is very easy to obtain all the votekeys you like and vote for yourself - they surely won't mind giving them to you.
Also, the atmosphere is spoiled when a party consists of 85-90% lamers - the feeling is just not the same when you know that the guy next to you really thinks you're some kind of a weirdo, bothering about something as antique as the Amiga, bothering to make productions for free, for the fun of it, though that is what being creative is all about - but he doesn't know, does he? Or care for that matter?
Or in other words: I felt like a stranger in my own home.
...and the organizers.
Of course the organizers can be blamed for some things as well: It IS their fault that the contribution system, which worked via www and ftp at the party (thus not available to anyone outside the party), did not work. Surely they can be blamed for not testing it 100% before using it. This is simply a CRIME towards the demo scene.
It is partly their fault that The Party 9 was flooded with game/quake/porn/ net-lamers - The Party tickets should NOT be available from every post office in Northern Europe and The Party 9 should not be announced on a public television computer game/cartoon/film program several months before if it should stay a subcultural demoscene event.
It is also the fault of the organizers that somebody did cheat, since the voting system easily allowed it without anyone being able to detect it - though it was not possible to vote more than once per net account, it was very easy to open multiple accounts which means that, in principle, anyone could have cheated to grab the indeed rather great cash prizes.
Needless to say, the rising entrance fee is also partly the fault of the organizers - what do we need fireworks (which are pretty expensive if to be used indoors) for the intro and prize ceremonies for? Why do we need prizes this big? How come it is so expensive when, after all, there are other parties with just as good prizes which are not?
Suggestions to the blamed:
First of all, I suggest that DCS, LOVEBOAT and KURE, who benefited from cheating in the competitions, probably much to their own surprise due to the probably low amount of voters, should apologize in public for their behaviour - they are not the first ones to fake votes, and probably not the last either - and if they don't, the scene should simply stop voting for them - this is not ment too offensively, DCS, LOVEBOAT and KURE, but hey, you can see what happened, right? This would be a good sign to send out: The scene does not accept votefaking at parties - it's lame, and the scene today is such a small community, that cheating eachother for prizes seems vety stupid - after all we all have to exist together, and hopefully for a long time yet.
I suggest that The Party organizers concentrate on making The Party a subcultural scene event instead of a public lamer event. It is possible to do, and can be done by taking several steps away from the present direction which indeed is towards the latter kind of event:
Do not announce the party to public media - instead, let the news flow through the usual scene channels - IRC, swapping, friends emailing, invitation on the www.
Do not have game competitions (forbid Quake like they do on SymMekka).
Cut people's armband when they have voted manually - that way it is virtually impossible to cheat - use votedisks which can be counted with some program, or a group of voting computers of which you can only access one once with a code printed on the armband which is cutted off afterwards if you don't bother to count the votes manually.
Make a delivery system which works a hundred percent and make sure that any kind of jurys needed to select which contributions to be shown are competent enough for the job - the multichannel competition was a travesty this year, and I assume the modules played were not the only delivered ones.
Generally, make sure that people who only attend in order to play games, leech warez, porn and mp3's and be on the net for free does not feel welcome at all.
If you are afraid that there aren't enough sceners to fill up three halls, well, don't rent all three halls - suppose this will show in the entrance fee as well then.
Suggestions to the lame:
If you fit my above description of a lamer, and got hold of this article by some magic spell or whatever, don't attend. Yes, you read it: STAY AWAY!
Suggestions to the sceners:
Stay away from The Party next year unless they offer a full refund if you are not satisfied with the way the above problems have been handled - this means, no more contributions thrown away, no more votefaking and no more commercial shit, basically. Do attend the Symposium Mekka, because it is the ultimate demoscene event. Or just stay away from The Party next year - it's pretty cosy to be there and meet friends (to the ones I met I say: Lovely time we had, pity it didn't have anything to do with The Party itself) - but the chance that they will change their direction seems like a snowballs chance in hell. So stay away too, and let them have their net party to themselves. I'm perfectly sure that a scene event COULD be organized in Denmark at the same time, and I would definitely like to participate in organizing e.g. competitions if some of you happen to have the motivation to find a place.
I was terribly angry when I returned from The Party, but this was written about two weeks later, which means that though it portrays some of my feelings at the time, it is not as if I am angry now - just disappointed in the direction The Party have taken. This is something I have given a lot of thought, and some people might say that my opinions may hurt some people - both the organizers, they may hurt DCS, LOVEBOAT or KURE, they may hurt the ones I portray as LAMERS which indeed is a harsh word in scene-speak. Yet this is my opinion, and if we want a proper discussion, a proper dialogue about this, it is necessary that we express our opinions in the clear instead of being frightened that some people may be hurt or annoyed by it.
Thus, all I have yet to say is, by all means:
DON'T GO! THE PARTY 10 WILL JUST DISAPPOINT YOU!
Do complain: firstname.lastname@example.org