Ever since computer games have been able to network and play cooperatively (I think the first one I played on a network was Quake…) I have enjoyed the strange
For those who don’t know, a LAN Party is where you load up your computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, game controllers, power cords, extension cables, a myriad of games (and your Windows System Disk, just in case), maybe a USB drive full of games, a mittfull of blank media, chips, and enough caffeine to kill yourself and head over to your buddy’s house, spend an evening trying to figure out the intricacies of TCP/IP vs IPX/SPX Protocols. If you are lucky, or have a computer science major, you will be able to network your computers and frag each other to virtual bits, or even better, team up against virtual baddies and overload on virtual ultraviolence until the sun comes up.
Strange, I know. Years from now, when “That 00’s Show” comes on, they will show some geeky teen loading up a huge beige computer and monitor into the trunk of their 96 Saturn, and heading off to a LAN Party, and the audience will laugh….
Anyways, with increased bandwidth that broadband gives us, the LAN party seems to be shifting more towards the virtual lounge. Now that my friends all have High-Speed connections at home, we can play BF2142 and run Teamspeak on the side, and talk to each other like we were there in the room together. It isn’t that different from an actual LAN party – you’re mostly making table talk, and you don’t make much eye contact, because you’re focused on the game.
I agree, it isn’t a whole lot of fun to disconnect all that crap and discover how much dust and cat hair is caked on the back of your PC chassis, stuff it all in your vehicle, haul it across town, unpack, hook it all up, only to unpack/set up, then break it all down again, pack it up again, and drive home at some ungodly hour with your brain fried to a crisp on 12 straight hours of caffeine, adrenaline, ultraviolence and Doritos.
But I still enjoy the moments between the games; deprogramming what happened and what others might have missed. There is more to a LAN party than just voice chat. That goes for other things as well.
Can you imagine two people going to different restaurants and keeping the cell phone on the table on ‘speakerphone’ mode? How different is that than eating dinner together?
Or going to the movies, and sitting next to a laptop with Netmeeting running a wireless video conference with your significant other, so you can watch a movie ‘together’?
I can imagine it, and that it’s a reasonable temporary substitution if the other person is in China or on the Moon or something, but I wonder if people will end up forsaking personal interaction for simply the audio/video.
Do I even need to mention that myspace “friends” are no replacement for the real thing? Or that porn is no replacement for intercourse? If you’ve ever seen the movie Sleeper with Woody Allen, or Demolition Man with Sandra Bullock, you will know what I mean.
I doubt that LAN parties will become obsolete, it gives geeks a chance to show off their new hardware, and their pimped-out computer chassis. What good are green glowing neon lights if you don’t go show them off?
As the technology gets better, online gaming will probably reduce the number of LAN parties, and that’s not all bad, it makes the experience of gaming together more convenient, but also takes away some of its quality – like fast food compared to gourmet food, or like an e-mail compared to a handwritten letter, or a text chat compared to a face-to-face conversation.
And how will geeks ever procreate if they don’t mingle? Hey, mooks have country-western bars and geeks have LAN parties.