«Demodays» is an annual event where demosceners meet, watch cool demos and submit their own productions in various competition categories. Think of it as an audiovisual arts festival which has it's roots deep in the 8-bit era of personal computing. Some of those categories are programming visuals, music production, animations and visual arts. All submitted productions will be shown to the local audience, which then chooses a winner by rating multiple qualities of an entry. Our demoparty rocks for 3 days, 24 hours a day and is the largest event of its kind in Switzerland. Close to 150 international visitors gather each year in the Schuetzi in Olten to watch demos and compete. Similar events take place all over the world and range from familiar gettogethers to events with more than a thousand people.
If you never heard any of the terms "demoparty" or "demoscene", don't worry. Most people never heard of it and there's quite a lot we have to explain. Actually there's so much to explain that it would basically only cause you to get bored and run away. If you are interested in a more thorough explanation, we suggest you head over the the wikipedia page.
Basically, this is all about being creative in the digital age, with roots that go way back to the first commercially available computers like the Atari or Commodore. Since then, every game console, every personal computer system and everything which displays pixels or makes sounds was used to create a "demo": a demonstration of possibilities, far beyond what the engineers had in mind when they built it.
It all started with code, programming and young people growing up with computers. Granted, a lot has changed in this particular field since the 1980s. But one thing is still true to today: everything that can run custom code, will run custom code at some point.
But the "scene" is not limited to programming. Since the early days, when pixels were as large as mobile phone screens, graphics, logos and drawings were created to be displayed alongside digitally crafted music and programmed animations. Thus, there were coders, graphicians and musicians, all working together in groups, using nicknames to identify themselves and meeting up to work on short, 3-5 minutes long "demos". They challenged each other to competitions, showing off their skills and competing with other groups at events called "demoparties". They also were the pre-internet-era knowledge exchange hubs, were everyone was sharing their latest tricks. And having a beer and a good time.
Since more than 15 years, we are actively encouraging young people to also do "more" with their computers by organizing this yearly event. And we will continue to do so for some time to come.
Clearly, we're freaks.
What's a demoparty anyways?
Excerpt from Wikipedia: "A demoparty is an event that gathers demosceners and other computer enthusiasts to compete in competitions. A typical demoparty is a non-stop event lasting over a weekend, providing the visitors a lot of time to socialize. The competing works, at least those in the most important competitions, are usually shown at night, using a video projector and big loudspeakers. The most important competition is usually the demo compo."
What's this demoscene you're talking about?
Excerpt from Wikipedia: "The demoscene is a computer art subculture that specializes in producing demos, which are audio-visual presentations that run in real-time on a computer. The main goal of a demo is to show off programming, artistic, and musical skills. The demoscene first appeared during the 8-bit era on computers, in the early 1980s."
The history of this event
It was the year 1996, when a few demosceners scattered all across Switzerland gathered at a scouts home in Jegenstorf, a small town close to Berne: "Buenzli" ("pre-demodays") was born. Later that same year, they met again and all of a sudden, the small meeting turned into an event series. Moving away from the countryside with no neighbors but cows, Buenzli found a new home in the basements of hotels in Berne. However, cows accompanied us ever since. :-) After a short visit to a completely different location in Beromünster, the event returned to Berne, to the famous Bierhübeli - nowadays this is a large concert hall, commercially driven and successful. Unfortunately out of our league, financially.
The event moved closer to Zurich in 2003, to the city of Winterthur. When Buenzli took place for the 20th time in 2011, another town has been chosen: Olten, in the heart of Switzerland. In the early days, mostly Swiss demosceners visited our event. That changed with Buenzli 10, when the first international visitors appeared. The organizers have followed this path and today, the audience at the Demodays is coming from all over Europe.
In 2002, the organization of Buenzli has been taken over by the team that is still pushing the event today. An association has been founded to act as an organizational platform and a juridical person. It's called «Echtzeit - Digitale Kultur».
The following individuals (listed with their demoscene nicknames) all help to create an awesome party each year:
- CCP / Atlantis
- Ei8th / Atlantis
- Genox / Calodox^Vantage
- Nightmare / Nuance
- Pro / Nuance
- Psykon / Mercury
- Robocop / Atlantis
- Unlock / Vantage
- Vynka / Carrots
- Zehbra / Atlantis
Hall of fame
The following individuals (listed with their demoscene nicknames) helped to organise previous events:
- Chicken / Fake That
- Fred / Calodox
- Furball / Fake That
- Gargamel / Fake That
- Posh / Xibalba
- Radio 24 / Calodox
- Sweeper / Xibalba
- Voodoo / Fake That
Frequently Asked Questions
What is «Demodays»?
Demodays is a demoparty made by, and for, the demoscene.
So what is a demoparty?
A demoparty is -- on the first glance -- like a LAN party. Depending on the size, a few or hundreds of visitors may bring their computers and set them up at the location. Unlike a LAN party, demoparties have an emphasis on creativity. Attendants are encouraged to compete in scheduled competitions (referred to by demosceners as 'compos' or competitions). These 'compos', spread out over the length of the party, are in categories that allow the attendants to showcase their artistic talents with the use of computers. In short: a demoparty is a multimedia art festival that usually lasts for several days.
What is the demoscene?
The Demoscene considers itself as a loose connection of creative minds with passions of creating digital art. A 'demo' is created by groups of people, or sometimes single individuals, to DEMOnstrate their skills. The traditional skill base of the demoscene is considered to be coding, music, and design. Since at a demoparty visitors are encouraged to participate, and participation requires at least a bit of knowledge of the 'scene', it is unusual for visitors to not have at least a basic understanding.
Why a demoparty?
The process of creating a demo does not actually require physical presence of the contributors; visual, logical, and aural data can be distributed to others without ever actually seeing the other contributors. Over the history of the scene, many different ways of contributing to the process and creation of a demo: telephone calls, written letters, electronic bulletin boards, and mailed floppy disks in the early days; today, telephone calls, emails, the internet. However, the scene is not just a technical forum; it is indeed a social experience. And as such, 'sceners' enjoy meeting with each other, catching up with old friends, making new friends - so there is a need for these 'meetings' which we call demoparties. It is a place to meet and make friends (just imagine meeting hundreds of people with the same hobby and interests as you), to complete the last steps of your demo production together with your group, to exchange ideas - or just drink beer or socialize. Nevertheless the main focus concentrates on the so called "compos": competitions where scene artists ('sceners') can participate and show their work in a friendly competition with others.
I'm not a demoscener, what's in it for me?
We encourage every person interested in the demoscene to come to a demoparty, but you must understand that the whole community is about creating art and not just consuming. While it is not required to enter a competition, you'll be encouraged to participate in some way - and we believe at the end of the demoparty you'll leave and want to start on YOUR next demo - even if you've never created one before.
How do I get there?
There are many options to come to Demodays. Check with anyone you know who is a scener and see how they are traveling, and also check the travel pages on the Demodays webpage.
How is the overall environment at your party?
Overall, the conditions you find at a party can not be compared to your cozy home: Loud noise, bad air, power breakdowns ...Nevertheless, the demodays staff does great efforts to make the party as comfortable as possible for their visitors. Apart from that, the overall slightly chaotic appearance of a demoparty is considered to be part of the fun by most sceners :-)
What kind of people can I meet?
Usually you can observe the following two types of visitors:
Party-animals: Their intention is to meet friends and get to know other sceners, discuss demoscene-related stuff but also personal stuff. Such people are not necessarily lazy people, they might just have finished their releases in time and thus use the time at a party for the more relaxing things.
Workaholics: Visitors who try to finish their releases on site, either because of they are very dedicated, were too lazy beforehand, have struck upon a bug at the last minute, or are just taking part in one of the planned fast competitions (a competition announced during the party) held for fun. It is quite common for a lot of sceners to give their productions a final touch when everybody involved is around and things can be discussed easily. (Obviously the ambiance is not really optimal for doing hard work, but 10+ years of people using demoparties as the time for finishing productions says something about that practice)
Is there any risk my equipment gets stolen?
We do not provide any lockers so you have to keep an eye on your stuff yourself. Or just ask your table neighbour to watch for it. Sceners tend to watch out for each other in this manner. Still, if your neighbour is hard at work on a project, please consider that they may not be able to actually WATCH your stuff - so do make reasonable choices about this. What about locking your belongings overnight in your car?
Although pure demoscene parties are quite safe places to be you should take possible theft into consideration and, in general, leave your expensive equipment at home. 'Sceners' aren't generally going to be impressed if you have a water cooled system that overclocks to 7000 percent of the recommended speeds - they actually may be much more interested in a Commodore 64 with a great paint job.
How can I take part in a competition?
Visitors can hand in their productions, also called 'releases', (demos/music/graphics/videos/...) to take part in the competitions. This is usually done by uploading the contribution via our intranet site. In rare cases (computer platforms without network access possibility, very large files) it is also possible to hand in a contribution at the infodesk. Just ask our friendly staff.
The deadlines are set so that our staff has enough time to go through all releases and check if they work properly. This also gives you the advantage that if there is a problem with your release, you can be informed and given a chance to fix it. That helps to avoid the disappointment of working hard on your production and not being able to see it, because it didn't work.
The basic requirements for contributing your releases to a competition can be found in the competition rules. In most categories we won't have a preselection, as the amount of releases is still manageable. So even if it is your first release, don't hesitate to hand it in and see what the crowd thinks of it. During the competitions, usually most of the crowd gathers in the hall to enjoy the releases on the 'bigscreen.' This is a great chance for positive feedback on your work.
Note that you can not take part in the competitions if you buy the 'compo watcher' ticket on Saturday evening.
Who decides the winner in a competition?
You do - that is - every visitor gets to vote for their favorite entries. Shortly after the every competition, the productions can be rated on a special party-website (using you mobile phone, laptop, ...) after entering a verification code (a so called votekey). You will receive this votekey upon paying your entrance fee and the info desk.
The last event of the party will be the prize-giving ceremony. This is where the final results are presented, and the three best entries in every category will be rewarded with prizes.