On LAN Parties

By Hans Wuerflein

(Note: I wrote this the other day on Negative Gamer and it hit number six on reddit, so I thought the few of you that hadn’t seen it yet might want to.)

I’ve been involved with the Gamers of OSU for the last five years, four of those as an officer, three as president. Yesterday, I helped host what was in all likelihood my last LAN party as an officer due to my upcoming graduation. It’s a weird feeling. It’s something I love doing, but something that is a frustrating endeavor that barely pays off 7 times out of 10.

I’ve seen LANs of 30 people, and LANs of 3 people. I walked into the scene in the aftermath of World of Warcraft’s decimation of not just our group, but organized LANs everywhere. I kept thinking that the next big FPS would turn things around, and a dozen “next big things” later the scene is still on life support. Hell, we wouldn’t be able to keep going if OSU didn’t let us use some of its facilities for free.

But as I’m reflecting on this occasion I have some thoughts from a half decade of experience:

1. Quake 3 is still the best deathmatch game ever made. I’d say for FFA or CTF it would be UT2K4. The Call of Duty games are great, but there is just something about those two games.

2. id Software REALLY screwed up with Quake 4. I know dozens of guys who either upgraded or, like myself, built whole new rigs in anticipation of what we thought would be the next big thing in PC gaming. And for a few months it was. We held tournaments, and everyone tried to keep an open mind (“Well, it’s pretty much Quake 3 with better graphics.”) but we just couldn’t keep supporting a game that had dropped to a couple dozen empty servers at any given time.

3. Seriously, who comes to a LAN and plays WoW? If we didn’t need your $5 from the door we would have kicked your asses out. Playing for 30 minutes while people are running out to grab lunch is fine, but to come to a LAN and only play WoW, what’s the point? You aren’t playing with us, and we don’t need you making our power layout more complicated.

4. Never leave your PC unlocked, or when you come back from lunch your desktop will be goatse.

5. If you make a big deal of a game (console or PC) during the planning stages of a LAN, you better fucking show up to play it. Nothing is more frustrating than people telling you how great it is to play Rock Band at a LAN (which it is, as a side thing), then after you haul it all out two guys play it for 15 minutes while their friend runs to Subway.

6. The Left 4 Dead games are two of the best games today for the state most LANs are in, because you should be able to find 8, or at least 4 people to play versus.

7. No matter who they are, they will play in a hastily thrown together Soul Calibur tournament.

8. People talk about how cool it is to see obscure stuff like an Atari Jaguar or 3DO at a LAN, but then spend all afternoon playing Smash Bros.

9. Always keep ISOs for Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and Star Wars: Jedi Academy around. Everyone can run them, they don’t take long to install, and they always seem to be a big hit.

10. Never underestimate the unintended spin-offs. DotA, various Tower Ds, and Garry’s Mod are always fun. Often more-so than the triple A title that came out last week.

11. If you don’t do it, no one will. Whether it’s advertising, getting the room or set up, make sure you only trust people who you know you can count on. The majority of people, even close friends, will flake on you at some point, so plan on doing it yourself, even if someone promises to be there at 9:00 a.m. setting up with you.

12. Everyone loves a good Quakecon story. And no, I don’t mean about the matches (unless they are amazingly bad). Stories of people uninstalling Quake 3 so they can steal more porn. Stories of being scrubbed out of the tournament -2 to 32. Stories of seeing your friend talk a stripper into giving him a lap dance for a used, losing, out of state scratch off lottery ticket. I once heard someone say, “Quakecon? That place is awesome! I got robbed at knife-point down there last year!”

I’m sure I could come up with more, but that’s enough for now.

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