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Nicknames or names
by DJ Gruby/Protovision/TRIAD

Handles, nicknames, pseudonyms... Can we forgo them altogether and act upon our true personalities instead? Are they a mere relic of the past that as of now has wholly lost its original purpose?

Hiding our true identities might have been necessary in the 80s when the market was booming and constantly dominated by new game releases. Back then it was the cracking scene that prevailed the activities of 8-bit computer maniacs. But does it still apply at all these days?

Even today it does not truly matter if you "crack" a new game title under your nickname, because we are such a small community that everyone practically knows each other.

I asked the scene about an up-to-date point of view on this topic. I wanted to find out whether there is a universal agreement around it, primarily what kind of standpoint is the most widespread today. My question was:

What is your personal opinion on forgetting all demo scene handles and letting us all operate only under our true identities?

Here are a few responses that I managed to collect...


For me my scene handle is much more than just a pseudonym I use in a community. It became kind of part of my life. Even people I only know from the "real life", like family or colleagues from work, started to call me Axis, because everybody is doing so.


Some of the demo groups used their real name. For me it's a tradition. I never really used it to hide my name given that authorities were not really chasing crackers in Sweden.

Some are on the scene as themselves and some play a role. If you play a role, an alias makes sense. I have no interest in changing myself. I will be Bacchus in this context even if everybody else start using their real name. But I will not try to influence any direction here.


It would be real stupid to do, especially when everything is online and searchable like CSDb. And why change anything? Handles are fun.


There are probably others who have put some effort into thinking about this, but anyway... Maybe the person with the handle and the person with the real name isn't the same person. The handle might represent a character that the real person plays in the scene.

The handles also have a practical purpose, in that they are more unique and easier to remember than people's real name, at least for people that you don't know very well. I know three Swedes in the scene with the same name (both first and surname).


To me nicknames are a big part of the nostalgia and identity surrounding the scene and this hobby and hence part of the reason I still love the C64. But of course there is no real need or reason for a nickname these days and I don't call the people of the scene whom I've befriended by their nicknames. But hey! I really wouldn't want to have to learn the real names of everyone on the scene either!


Scene would have been a very boring place without handles. It helps us to keep the young spirit. Also, scene always had some (I'm not saying too much) patriotism and racism. I believe handles give us more anonymity.

I'm a Turkish scener and my name is Emir which is also an Arabic name. So if I had used my name instead of my handle, many people would have thought I was living in the Middle East instead of Turkey every time they see "coded by Emir" instead of "coded by Skate". Have you noticed I didn't wanna be recognised as a Middle Eastern person? Prejudice is a bitch and we all have it.

We used to use the term "handle" instead of "nickname" in the scene. Then Internet came along and people started to use nickname instead of handle. Nowadays we use both handle and nickname in the scene but we all know "handle" is a more scenish term. Giving up my handle? No way!


For sure you can hardly hide anyway - with or without handle. Not even snailmail anonymity is as easy as it was in times of strict post secret laws. Maybe if a cracker exclusively spreads releases on disks hand to hand in persona, but don't forget to wear trench coat, floppy hair and sunglasses and act like Lefty the Salesman of Sesame Street...

Kidding aside, as soon as you use a nickname/handle on the Internet, just the thought of anonymity seems ridiculous. I don't know (as I'm not doing social network waste-of-time, i.e. beside CSDb) but wouldn't be suprised if some cracking groups even had Facebook accounts/sites. And yes, it's not necessary for 8-bit crackers as the few original producers are hobbyists who leak the originals themselves directly to crackers in most cases, not EA with a team of lawyers just waiting to track any crackers down.

I think turning all nicks to real names would feel quite confusing and strange to me. Even in real life I hardly ever call groupmates by their name, maybe with the exception of ThunderBird, but he was my roommate years ago and later best man at my wedding, guess it would have caused some eyebrow-raising at the authorities if I had written "ThunderBird" in the form field "witness of marriage".

Everyone should do as they please, but changing nicknames (no matter to what, i.e. new handle/real name) confuses me shortly, but doesn't have much more effect. I still think of "Rambones" automatically when I read "SIDWave"/"Jan Harries" or "Conrad" when I read "Owen Crowley". But hey, if you feel better, just do it.


Well, I mostly know people from their nicknames. Nicknames are easier to remember, I guess. Most real names are hard to pronounce, such as mine: Ugur. "G" letter only exists in Turkish and is hard to read for non-Turkish people... My daughter, wife and any other family members are still calling me Vigo. :)


Nicknames were more fun when you were 15 years old... Also back in the days there were so many active sceners it was easier to remember people by their nickname. Now the C64 community is much smaller so it does not matter that much anymore if you use a nickname or your real name.

Final thoughts / conclusions

For some the idea of giving up our nicknames may be considered too revolutionary to be implemented in reality now, and likely ever. On the other hand the concept does not seem to cause a consistent outrage either. A few individuals would come up with substantiative bits in favour of a personality rebellion. Still most voices raised here were speaking genuinely against it, some even calling it "stupid". Therefore it looks like our nicknames are staying with us for a longer time still.


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