There were good reasons why groups were needed in the past - and in the opinion of Sane, this is no longer the case.
Groups are redundant anno domini 2022
Written by Sane a.k.a. sAner / Monk
For the smartasses amongst you: yes. Yes, the topic of this article and the fact I put the group name ‘Monk’ behind my handle seem to contradict each other. They seem to contradict each other because I claim groups are redundant nowadays and immediately after that bold statement, I claim to be a member of a group myself. Well, things are not always what they seem to be, especially not in the case of yours truly. Let me elaborate, because after all: that is what I like to do.
Monk is a one-member group now. Me, myself and I are the only Sceners present in Monk. I place that group name behind my handle for fun, for old times’ sake. Nothing less, nothing more. Granted, in the mid-nineties Monk was a real group, with real members. Monk had individual members who did individual things: coding, graphics, swapping, writing and one of the coders composed tunes too.
And Monk released a few productions of which The intro to Trinity‘ is most noteworthy. But that was more than 2,5 decades ago. Back then groups fulfilled a purpose. Now they don’t. On the contrary: groups cause stagnation. Scenes, especially the Amiga Scene, became too small for groups to be able to thrive, to boost scenic activities. Groups will only cause the Scene to crumble even more until next to nothing will get released, production-wise. In the next few paragraphs, I will tell you why that is the case and I will conclude this article with a solid and obvious solution. Bear with me!
In the eighties and nineties of the 20th century, there were numerous people attending the Amiga Scene. Tens of thousands of people around the globe, but primarily in Europe, were connected to the Amiga Scene and many thousands of people were active Sceners. No one exactly knows how many people were actively engaged in the Amiga Scene in those early days of the Amiga Scene and only the makers of the World- and Eurocharts have a global idea because of the unbelievable amounts of votes pouring in back then. So, we don’t know for sure how many Sceners were active then, but we know there were a lot. There were so many Sceners active in the Amiga Scene that groups were needed to get things done. Of course, groups were, and are, primarily started because of friendship, but decades ago groups were a condition to get things done.
There were so many people being busy doing random things in the Scene that groups were necessary to organise things. Sceners needed chiefs, also known back then as leaders or organisers, to create order in the chaos. The leaders created groups and the groups often had divisions in different countries. Cracker crews sometimes had a legal demogroup and things got done that way. If it hadn’t been for groups total chaos would have reigned in that early Scene.
We must also keep in mind that the contact between Sceners was on another level than we are experiencing today. Sceners had to contact each other through medieval means of snailmail or through modems and Bulletin Boards. It could take up to days or even weeks before you had an answer on a simple question and if it hadn’t been for groups, it would have been next to impossible to get a demo, musicdisk, slideshow or magazine done. Groups were needed because at least you knew there was a coder, graphician, musician or writer available when needed and there was a leader who was in charge and took care of the contact between the individual members, if that was truly necessary. And believe me, the latter was often the case.
So, groups came in handy in those early days and things got done because of the smooth organisation in most groups that were actively making demos back then. Because of a group functioning well, the friendship in such a group became even better and Sceners were even more eager to help their fellow members out if needed and thus things got even more done. So, my thesis is that the enormous size of the Scene in the eighties and nineties, next to preserving friendship and the (lack of) communicational means, were the main ingredients why groups were an absolute must in the days of yesteryear. The fact the humongous size of the Scene was one of the main reasons groups were necessary to divide the big Scene into smaller portions (i.e.: the groups) can be proven by me because I am sure you will remember that some groups on itself got too big, became somewhat of a Scene on their own and collapsed because of that. Just like in the humongous Scene back then, the overview in those really big groups was gone and those groups started to face problems because of that.
Anarchy is a prime example. Anarchy is one of the most productive and best Amiga demogroups ever, but the group imploded because it got too big in the end. The group Anarchy became a Scene on its own and some of the key members seceded from the mother crew and started a new, smaller group: Lemon. Those ex-Anarchy members, the founders of Lemon., needed a smaller crew to enjoy the Scene as much as they used to and to be able to continue to kick out ace productions onto the scenic streets. And Anarchy does not stand alone when it comes to this problem. Many big groups suffered from the same problem.
Also, a lot of extremely successful groups in the history of the Amiga Scene were reasonably small. Lemon., Melon, Sanity, Kefrens and Phenomena come to mind and are only a few, but essential examples which prove my point that the early Scene was so big it had to be divided in smaller sections. In smaller parts of the ancient Scene, like the Scene of the NL, it was more common to have contributors to, for example, a demo from outside the producing group. I think we all remember Unknown Territory by the Dutch group Axis. Jayce / Jetset provided the needed soundtrack for that demo. This again proves my thesis groups only fulfil an important role in a very big Scene.
Anno Domini 2022 the Amiga Scene is very small.
Granted, it is bigger than a decade ago and many ancient and long retired Sceners (like myself) started being (somewhat) productive again, but you can’t argue with me that the Amiga Scene is actually very small. The Scene now consists of only a few hundred active Sceners and even that probably is a very optimistic number. The Scene is so small, groups are not needed anymore. On the contrary: groups will be contra productive in a Scene which is as small as the Amiga Scene of today. If you divide this small Scene into various groups, next to nothing will get released. A productive coder in group X must wait until a musician and a graphician in group X will also get active. Group Y has a lazy coder and a graphician swamped in real life work but has an active musician and group Z only has a graphician with time on his or her hands.
If we stick to groups, next to nothing will get released. If we forget about groups, the coder of group X, the musician of group Y and the graphician of group Z will be able to make an ace demo together. Just look at Jurassic pack #18 for example. Issue #18 of JP only saw the light of day because many Sceners from different groups participated together. There was not even a producing group behind JP #18.
Of course, diskmagazines of the older Scene like Seenpoint (Scoopex), RAW (Spaceballs) and ROM (Essence) also heavily depended on contributions (i.e. welcome picture, music, articles) from outside the producing group, but nowadays you need a bunch of sole Sceners to be able to produce a diskmagazine. A producing group is not necessary anymore and will most likely only slow things down production wise. In this day and age, it is next to impossible for one group to release an Amiga offline magazine (even with the help of contributors). But if a lot Sceners from many different groups act together, it is possible. That was the idea behind ‘Reboot‘ too, the best magazine that was never released. You can read the article about Reboot in issue 18 of JP. I think the same could be said about demos and other Scenic productions.
If Sceners of different groups would cooperate way more than they are doing now, I am certain a lot more productions would be made and actually finished. Maybe it would even be best if groups would be abolished, so more interaction between Sceners would be stimulated. Or someone could just make an online tool where Sceners can plug an idea they have about creating a production and Sceners (of different groups) can apply for a vacant job, to be able to play a role in that specific production. Wouldn’t that be just great?!
sAne(r) signing off.
Written by Sane a.k.a. sAner / Monk