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What's a LAN Party?

(Wed Nov 3 17:44:19 2010)



If you are over the age of 40, under the age of 15, and/or don't hang out with any gamers or geeks, chances are, you've never been to a LAN Party. You might have heard of it, and wondered what this wonderful event included; if the stories are to be believed, going to a LAN party turns even the most introverted pacifist into a screaming, rampaging gamer.

Regardless of whether Jekel-and-Hyde transformations do or do not occur, LAN parties are awesome. They are a low maintenance, high fun party - and a lot cheaper and less destructive than your usual suare. Even if you don't usually play computer games, a LAN party will be a blast. So what happens at one of these fabled parties? Well, let me break ti down for you - there are three aspects to a LAN Party: computers, food, and caffeine.

The backbone of any LAN Party is the computer. Everyone that has one brings their computer, be it a laptop, a desktop, or even an XBox or other console. That's where the term "LAN Party" comes from - everyone plugs their computer into the "Local Area Network", or "LAN". Once networked, the party guests (henceforth refered to as "gamers") can play all varieties of computer games, from first person shooters to real time strategy. Half-Life, Red Faction, Counterstrike, Star Craft: Broodwar (the original; unfortunately, the new Star Craft is only playable online), Kohan, Unreal Tornament - the list goes on. Even silly games like LiquidWar or Worms World Party can be played. It all depends on the whims of the gamers. If the party is big enough, there may be several games going on at once.

The second aspect may not be the main focus of the party, but it is no less important. In fact, I would go so far as to say that food is critical, especially if the party lasts long into the night. Pizza is the staple of choice, surrounded with various snacks and drinks for the quick munch between games. Everything from flavored chips to home-made brownies are welcome, though as a rule, messy food is to be avoided. Nobody likes Ramen Noodles spilled into their laptop, or Cheetos rubbed into their mousepad. And no one will be amused if you bring soup and a salad. What do you think this is, High Tea?

The final aspect of a LAN party is the beverage of choice - or rather, the ingrediant of choice. Sure, root beer and kool-aid are great and all, but when you've been playing Counterstrike for six straight hours, you need a little more than colored sugar-water to carry you through. Now, when most people hear "caffeine", they think "coffee." This is wrong. If you are drinking nothing but coffee at a LAN Party, you may need serious help. No, what you need is Mountain Dew, or Coke, or Pepsi, or even Dr. Pepper. For those willing to go the extra mile (and dollar) for their party, Bawls and Health/Mana Energy Potions hit the spot. In fact, some people go so far as to bring caffinated mints, gum, lollipop, marshmellows... even caffeinated jerky. Yeah, I think that last one is a bit weird, too. But hey, at 4 AM, everything pretty much tastes the same anyway, so why not?

So now you know what goes on an these fabled parties; but, you may well wonder, why bother at all? I mean, you could order pizza delivered to your door, never leave your own house, and still enjoy long games online. Why would you want to lug your desktop across town just to play the exact same games? Ah - what you want is not a definition, but a story! Well, pull up a chair - er, or whatever you're sitting on there - and listen to this tale of old...

Long, long ago, the Internet was really expensive and slow (about 15 years ago - a lifetime, in computer terms). Playing games online meant that your characters would lag so badly, by the time your connection caught up, you'd have been killed. Twice. So, instead, gamers gathered together, bringing their huge desktops and even bigger monitors together in hastily constructed networks, so that they may play without lag. And the gamers saw that it was good. As time wore on, the games improved, and still the gamers gathered. Eventually, everyone got fast Internet connections, and the LAN Parties began to die out. Even so, the older gamers (read: 20-30) remember those days fondly; no party was complete without the one guy re-installing Windows, and the other guy that ran a Pentium Pro 90Mhz, and still expected to be able to play Counterstrike. But most of all, the old gamers remember how much fun it was to watch someone's face as you fragged their character, or swarmed their base, or whatever else.

LAN Parties are just... fun. But don't take my word for it - go ahead and find one and attend!

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This blag is tagged: Computer, Lanparty, All