It’s been a little quiet on the blog due to real life rearing it’s ugly head (back, back foul beast!) as it is wont to do. Happily, it is not the usual tedium of steady employment or depression inducing bills knocking impatiently at the door but a series of much more fun events that I could not miss. One of my best friends got married this week! It was a lovely ceremony and an open bar and yada yada wedding stuff. The really important night was the bachelor party.
Normally the standard is copious amounts of alcohol as the groom and his friends do things the soon-to-be-wife would frown on like strippers and hookers and hookers who strip and strippers who… hook? While I am sure my friend’s wife would prefer he not associate with those he saw this as an opportunity to get away with something he had been wanting to do for ages. He ordered his wedding party to organize for him a LAN party.
Younger readers may not know this as high-speed internets have basically made the LAN party a thing of the past. In the ancient era of the 90’s and even into the very early 2000’s (when fucking dinosaurs ruled the earth!) many people had the internet that would go at speeds less than 1% of what they can now. I remember struggling to download jpgs at 14 kilobytes per second. As you can imagine this meant gaming online was somewhat limited. Forget having to turn down graphics settings – you were lucky if your multiplayer game had graphics! As such people developed an ingenious system where they would pack up their entire computer and monitor – monitors back then were not flat and weighed 80 jillion pounds – into their car, drive to someone’s house, spend several hours trying to figure out how to network them all together and not blow a fuse, trade and install games because there was no such thing as DRM back then, and then play games while eating junk food until everyone passed out or eventually decided to go home for lunch… the next day.
I love LAN parties, so much so that I continued to attend them even after my internet moved faster than dry snot in winter going uphill. I had not been to one in years and for my friend it had been even longer. He’d grown up with a close-knit group of gamers who all would meet on a semi regular basis for these get-togethers. He missed them and happily we were able to cobble one together.
In many ways, things have really changed. For one thing, we’re in our 30’s now. The all-night party running on junk food and adrenaline is a lot harder on the body than I remember. But moreso was the experience of setting everything up. Half of the computers connected automatically to the hotel’s wifi and then immediately rebelled because the hotel wifi is crap, although 10 years ago I would have said it was blisteringly fast. Of course, the internet was necessary because for some reason modern games aren’t being designed to work over a LAN. I can’t fathom why….
The solutions were equally strange to think of from the perspective of back then. I have a stick that plugs into my computer which makes it able to grab the internet out of the air. We need to share game files? No problem. Someone brought a second computer which is connected to a box and it makes it into a file-sharing platform that sends multiple gigabytes of data to half a dozen computers simultaneously in minutes. There is a service which lets you instantly buy games online and then communicate with your friends while playing them. My monitor screen is fl!
But here’s the whole point of this long and rambling post. There are some things that did not change. They are the simplest and the purest, the most important, and the most wondrous discoveries we made that night.
Nearly a decade since our LAN partying days began to die down a group of grown men sat down in a room and played games together for 15 hours straight. We talked, we laughed, we called each other derogatory names. We reconnected with an experience we all had thought gone and for one night became our teenage selves again. I have had many enjoyable gaming experiences online but nothing compares to the camaraderie and the honest fun of playing together in person.
So if you take anything from this post it is to never forget the reasons we love this hobby, the reasons this very site exists, and the reasons so many people who don’t get this hobby are so wrong. Gaming is not an antisocial experience, no matter how hard we try to make it one. Gaming is a way of connecting and enjoying your time with good friends. The next time someone asks if you want to come over and play some games, say yes! Heck, that was my first date with the woman I love and will soon marry myself. And you know what? We might just do a LAN for my bachelor party too. I know that as the sun was coming up and we all debated whether it was easier to pack up our stuff or just buy new computers tomorrow the question that most weighed on everyone’s mind was “when can we do this again?”
Disclaimer: If someone asks “Do you want to play a game?” but their voice has a weird inflection as if through a voice-distorting device or if the person looks like a puppet, animated doll, leprechaun, guy in a striped fuzzy sweater and hat, or twins of either gender below the age of 12 then DO NOT say Yes to that offer. Run! Just run! Get as far away as possible, don’t stop for anything other than obeying the laws of the road and traffic signals. Do not look back, do not bring any luggage, Change your name and move.