The Gathering (computer party)

The Gathering (computer party)

The Gathering (abbreviated as "TG" for short) is one of the largest computer parties in the world. It is held annually in Vikingskipet Olympic Arena in Hamar, Norway, and lasts for five consecutive days (starting on the Wednesday in Easter each year). Every year, TG attracts more than ~5200 (mostly young) people, and the demand seems to be several times higher (see "the ticket sale controversy" below).



In early 1991, Vegard Skjefstad and Trond Michelsen, members of the demogroup Deadline, decided that they wanted to organize a big demoparty in Norway. In the late eightes/early nineties, it was common that demoparties (more commonly called "copyparties" at this time) was organized by large demogroups. Because of this, and the fact that Deadline wasn't particularly well known, Vegard suggested they should get the group Crusaders involved. At this time, The Crusaders was one of Norway's most popular Amiga groups. Partly because of their music disks, but also because of their diskmag, the Crusaders Eurochart. At first, Crusaders weren't too keen on the idea of organizing a party, but when Vegard reminded them that they always complain about how bad other parties are, and that this was their chance to show everyone how it should be done, they agreed.

After briefly considering having the party during the fall of 1991, it was decided that Easter would be better. All schools are closed during Easter week and the period from Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday are official holidays in Norway. This meant that most of the target audience would have time off to attend TG, and all organizers and crew could work full time with TG with a minimum usage of vacation days.


In 1992, 1100 people gathered in "Skedsmohallen" at Lillestrøm, way more than the expected count of about 800. The following years, TG continued to grow. In 1993 "Skedsmohallen" again was the venue with 1400 people visiting the party. In 1994 the venue was "Rykkinnhallen" in Bærum, and the visitor count had risen to 1800. A slump occurred the next year and the reasons for this are debatable. The 1995 party was moved to Stavanger, a 300 km, 7 1/2 hour drive from Østlandet where many participants lived, and Crusaders were not organizing the party this year (consequently it was called simply "Gathering 95"). It was clear that one would soon need a bigger place to be.


The venue decided upon was Vikingskipet Olympic Arena, built earlier for the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics. Providing lots of space and good infrastructure (abundant power, good parking opportunities, etc.) it was the ultimate party location, and in 1996, the first TG in Vikingskipet attracted 2500 visitors. However, TG has continued growing, and has been sold out every year since 1998 (see "The ticket sales controversy" below); TG05 and TG06 attracted about 5200 visitors.

Daily life

TG lasts for five days (from Holy Wednesday to Easter Sunday every year), and thus is both longer and of course bigger than most other computer parties. Most people tend to let their daily rhythm go and instead sleep as they see fit (many simply in front of their computer, but most people on the arena stands); for a lot of people most of the time is usually spent in front of a computer, but many like to use the opportunity to meet new or old friends in real life.

People have wildly different opinions about what constitutes a proper computer party; the common trend at TG these years seem to be warez, games (the most popular being Counter-Strike), and IRC. However, many visitors find this too boring in the long run, and there are many unofficial mini-events happening all the time. Informal competitions to build the highest tower of soda cans are not uncommon, and people have been spotted having their own private mini-rave-parties put together by a few people and a PC with loudspeakers.

Happenings and the demoscene

TG has always been a hub for young creative people to battle it out in many types of competitions; demo coding, music, graphics, animation, games, hardware-modification and Dance Dance Revolution to name a few; in addition, there are usually concerts and other things happening live on stage once or twice a day, as well as seminars etc.

In the first years, the focus on TG was pretty much on demos, but as TG is held at the same time as Breakpoint, a German scene-only party (and the earlier Mekka & Symposium), many European demosceners have left TG in favour of BP, and TG, like most other computer parties, has become more of a gamer event. The scene at TG still lives on, though, as TG has introduced features such as a demoscene-only area, "creative cashback" (those handing in entries to the creative competitions get a discount) and other demo-oriented events. In fact, you have to go back as far as 1996 to match the amount of entries handed in to the creative competitions at TG04.

The following competitions were held at TG04.


* Combined demo (Amiga, PC, Mac)
* Combined 64k intro (Amiga, PC, Mac)
* Wild/animation
* Tracked music
* HiQuality music
* Pixeled graphics
* Rendered graphics
* Fast intro
* Fast music
* Webdesign
* Useless utility


* (1 on 1)
* Counter-Strike (5 on 5)
* (5 on 5)
* Quake 4 (1 on 1)
* (1 on 1)


The organization Kreativ Aktiv Norsk Dataungdom (KANDU) is formally responsible for hosting TG. In addition, there are about 200 volunteers participating to make TG become reality every year; these are collectively called "the crew".

The TG crew is split into multiple sub-crews, such as a democrew (Event:Demo), a gamecrew (Event:Game), a first-aid crew (Security:Medic), a network crew (Tech:Net), a server crew (Tech:Server), etc.. (The exact list varies somewhat from year to year.) Each of these has a chief who reports upwards, and is responsible for some aspect of the party.

All crew members are volunteers and unpaid; the only advantages a crew member has over a normal visitor are free entrance, access to a crew-only sleeping room and hot food served a few times a day. All members of the crew must arrive at the party place one day before the party itself starts, and stay one day after the party to aid in cleaning up afterwards. (Some people, such as chiefs, typically come even sooner.)

Everybody who wants can become crew (except for the Security crew, where there is a minimum age of 18), by applying at a special interface called "wannabe". The chiefs usually pick their own crew, based on the applications coming in and previous experience. Crew members from earlier years must re-apply every year if they want to be crew again, but it is rare for a person having done a good job not to be selected the next year.

Ticket sale controversy

Up to and including TG01, TG tickets (as all other tickets to everything else happening in Vikingskipet) were sold by "Billettservice", a company closely related to the postal service in Norway. Partly sold via the Internet, partly by phone (but always picked up at a local post office), the Billettservice system broke down hard every year as thousands of people tried to order tickets to the event simultaneously.

To try to make the ticket sales a bit more smooth, a group of people closely related to the administration of TG made a separate company called Partyticket (or, PTN for short), selling unified ticket-related services (such as ordering, payment, seating, handling competitions etc.) to smaller and larger computer parties. Partyticket went online for the first time in 2002, and like Billettservice instantly went down under the massive load, partly due to a problem at the third-party service authorizing credit card transactions. However, the tickets were still sold out in a matter of hours.

2003 was not much better; a lot of problems had been fixed (and PTN had successfully managed the ticket sales for several other computer parties), but there were still problems left, and it was decided to postpone the ticket sales by one day to fix the problems that had been discovered. The sales went relatively smooth the next day.

In 2004, one hoped that one would finally see the end of the problems, especially as a new queuing system and new hardware was installed; however, the server again buckled under the enormous load, and the queueing system was found to be severely buggy, apparently shuffling people around in the queue at random. This frustrated a lot of visitors, many of which never got tickets at all. Many people blame the ticket-sales problems directly at PTN and has tried to pressure TG into choosing some other solution.

In 2005 the queuing system was changed. Instead of buying actual tickets, people were put in a virtual queue, thus loading the server a lot less during the peak hours. The next day, people were processed from the start of the queue (but no more than 200 at a time). This system ended up working a lot better than the queueing system from 2004, despite some misconceptions in the media.

Since 2006, however, there have been no major issues.

In 2007 the Norwegian Tax Authority demanded that taxes were to be paid for the tickets sold from 2001 to 2008, as they didn't consider The Gathering to be a cultural arrangement (all cultural arrangements in Norway are exempt from paying taxes). Although the management of TG sent a complaint to the Tax Authority, they did not reconsider their demands. Within August 8th, the management of TG had to pay 988.536 NOK in unpaid taxes, which could have caused the 2009 arrangement of The Gathering to be cancelled. If no money was paid within August 8th, the arrangement could be closed for good. However, on August 16th, 2008, KANDU and The Gathering won the tax case and will temporarily be exempted from paying taxes for the tickets sold in 2006, 2007, 2008 and the future. Also, there will be a law amendment to secure this for all other computer parties in Norway. The stated reason for this decision, is that "The Gathering's purpose is to gather youth from inland and abroad so these can get together to cultivate a computer culture", and the Storting has declared in a white paper that computer gaming is considered culture.cite web|url= |title=The Gathering - Finally! |accessdate=2008-10-11 |date=2008-08-16 |publisher=The Gathering ]


2007 theme song

In 2007, there was no clear "TG song". The exact reasons are unknown, since the social mechanisms of such a selection are poorly understood, but the following possible reasons have been cited:

* The diminishing number of large enough sound systems in the hall.
* The amount of music being played from the main stage (easily dwarfing most other sound systems)
* The fact that the network and power was nearly always up, giving people other things to think about than to play "terror music" to annoy others.

Nevertheless, many songs have been suggested as the "TG2007 song", such as "You are a Pirate" by Lazy Town, "Sorry Arne" by Jim & Stian K, "Det var en gång en liten fågel" by Laser, "Barber din fisse" by Dario von Slutty and "My Boobs Are ok" by Lene Alexandra Øien. However, none of them did come even close to the amount of "global playing time" that has characterized earlier TG songs, and given the amount of wildly different suggestions, it is quite unlikely that one or two would surface as a clear "winner".

On the other hand, 2007 was a year of unusually much and unified "Arne" shouting. It is possible that this trend alleviated the "need" for a common theme song to unite around, providinga similar means of uniting an otherwise heterogeneous group.

Demo and intro competition winners


* TG is also an abbreviation for (among others) Târgu-Mureş, a Romanian city. This leads to several Romanians joining #tg at EFnet (TG's official IRC channel) expecting to find other Romanians there. At some point, this actually went far enough that many of the #tg regulars have a pre-recorded message in Romanian explaining the situation and the channel's intent, as few of the Romanians knew English well enough for a proper explanation.


  • Tasajarvi, Lassi (2004). "Demoscene: The Art of Real-time". Even Lake Studios. ISBN 952-91-7022-X. pages 45-54.
  • External links

    * [ The Gathering official website]
    * [ KANDU website]
    * [ The Gathering] on Pouët
    * [ The Gathering: Computer Parties as Means for Gender Inclusion] by Hege Nordli, an academic paper about The Gathering demo party and parties in general. (PDF)
    * [ Various logos]
    * []
    * []

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