Some people collect stamps; some mow down old ladies with mopeds. My hobby for the past 15 years or more has been the demoscene.
I can claim that my interest in it has got me at least one job, a modicum of fame in the world of computer geeks, friends and trips all over the world (mainly northern europe), earned me a couple of cable TV appearances watched by at least five people, won me a few awards and a small amount of money, cost me a fair amount of money, cost me even more in terms of lost sleep, stress, liver damage and at least one near-hospitalisation.
These days I’m a programmer in Fairlight – a group that’s become a true piece of computing history, and is only a few years younger than I am (although I didn’t join until I was 19).
Demos used to be a pretty casual affair, hacked together by kids trying to show off to other kids how clever they could be with their computers. But over the years it got serious. The afforementioned kids grew up into highly skilled professionals, many of whom become prominent members of the games industry amongst other things.
Making demos got a lot more complicated too. Nowadays our demos are made by professional artists and programmers in custom-made realtime editing tools. The motivation never really changed – kids showing off to other kids – but the results are a mile away from the early days.