When Playing Online Isn’t Enough: #LAN Parties and You
It’s a tense round of Titanfall…
I’m running across the rooftop of a building in the Angel City map, desperately chasing the last survivor of the rebels as he makes his way to the extraction point in this round’s epilogue. I wall-run to gain some speed, and he makes a vital mistake: he holds still to shoot one of my teammates. I drop behind him and with a snap, end his round.
It’s a story I’ve had play out many times playing MMORPGs from my computer; but, this time it was a bit different. Instead of chuckling over Ventrilo (or some other VOIP software), I instead stood up from my seat, looked to the other side of my table, and stared into my opponent’s eyes, smiled and winked. Not a moment later, the rest of my team cheered around me, and that round of the tournament was over.
This event occurred last month, and I was at a LAN party called PDXLAN in Portland, Oregon. My team won the heated match against another group in the gigantic room that holds 500+ people and their computers. It was amazing!
A LAN party, or simply LAN, as it’s also known, is a group of people who bring their own PCs, jam together tightly in a room, hook the computers to a Local Area Network, and let fly with the video games. Once relegated to basements and family rooms (with only a few people playing games), today’s LAN parties have grown, ranging from smaller university events to huge mega-LANs, like the one found at Dreamhack in Jönköping, Sweden (Dreamhack set a world record in 2013 by having 17,403 connected systems!). This specific event started 2003 when Matt “Vector” Conwell decided to jam 500 people into a conference hall with computers for an epic, fun event. As it turns out, it was well-received (if not amazing), and it blossomed into one of the largest semi-annual LAN parties on the West Coast.
I started attending these events in 2008, and I can tell you, it’s a special experience meeting people in-person, whose voices you’ve only heard online. It’s even better when your (somewhat embarrassing to say aloud) avatar name is shouted loudly in faux anger across a room (thanks, Sergio…).
PDXLAN also included smaller events and tournaments, and a number of generous sponsors to help with costs, such as providing internet and supporting the raffle (which I’ll get to later). The sponsors gave presentations with giveaways. And, the event raised money for various charities, ranging from food collections to cash donations.
When registering for PDXLAN, participants received anywhere from 1 to 3 (or more) raffle tickets. On the last day of the event, Vector always takes the stage to begin the much-anticipated raffle. Vector grabs a prize, grabs a ticket, and calls out the winning number. If your ticket gets pulled, you “woot for loot,” and run up and take your prize. The prizes are always awesome, from cases to power supplies to 700+ CPUs and video cards. In our event last month, we even had some mini-PCs raffled off.
After all of the raffle prizes were passed out (which easily took an hour), everyone packed up, said goodbye, and left. It’s always a bit sad leaving those friends you see often, but it’s always a blast when I get to go.