Sets and Guns and Doritos – Death of the LAN Party

Sets and guns and Doritos, is all my brain and body need.

As a player of video games I’ve always been firmly behind every technological push. Every new console, graphical stride and bigger world would leave me smiling. I guess I’m always a gamer who savours the moment, keeps one eye on the future but rarely looks back at where I’ve been. For me gaming lives in the present and that’s how I like it.

Yet despite this, I do occasionally lament the loss of certain aspects of gaming culture. I’ll forever miss sitting down before the TV with my tea on my lap waiting expectantly for Dominik Diamond to welcome me to the glorious show that was Gamesmaster. Wonderful wit, great challenges, sneak looks at new games and consoles, and innuendo dripped like honey always resulted in me wanting to rush to my bedroom and play with my own joystick for a half hour or so. Great times!

And the other aspect that, thinking about it, has died a complete death from my perspective, is the good old gathering of mates, consoles, a couple of TV sets, cheap alcohol and crisps from a tube.

I think some call it a LAN party, I called it a bloody good time.

The set up was pretty much an OCD sufferer’s worst nightmare, as an absolute shit ton of wires littered the floor, running towards two or three TV screens of varying sizes and varying precariousness of position. Two or three Xbox consoles, one neatly under the mother ship TV set, aka the one that always lived in whoever’s living room we currently inhabited, and the other pair lumped on the floor where they would act beautifully as both a means to game, and a place to rest a glass of cheap cider. Sprawling out from the screens was usually a settee, a folding picnic chair and a beanbag that had less beans than a tin of Heinz. This space, while relatively neat under the circumstances at kick-off, gradually descended into something that resembled a beach under a receding tide. Half eaten biscuits, discarded packets of Space Ranger crisps, empty tubes, toppled glasses and scattered game cases all washed up onto the tropical paradise of the living room. Beautiful chaos and abandon. And…”Where’s the cat? Has anyone seen the cat?” And buried pets. Great times.

LAN_2

Somewhere in the middle of this mess would be a small group of friends. Seemingly unaware of the deteriorating surroundings, attention fixed upon the screens and fingers moving swiftly on controllers. For us the game was generally Halo 2. It delivered some truly memorable moments, spawned little conflicts and brought great laughter. And now, it’s gone.

With the evolution of online play and the ability to game with friends from the comfort of your own home, the old get togethers dwindled, and then died. And although we still have the ability to play together, to talk and laugh, it can never be the same. The days of lugging a console and a TV round to a mate’s house are a thing of the past, and in all honesty the gaming world is a little less appealing, a little less jolly and a little less friendly because of it. Sure, it’s a shitload tidier, but that’s beside the point.

With continual evolution it’s to be expected that certain ideas and ways become outdated. The gaming party is one of them. I think that as players part of our own evolution has seen us become a less patient breed. Where once I would happily listen to my ZX Spectrum screech like a banshee for five minutes while it didn’t just load the game, it fucking gave birth to it, I now grit my teeth when faced with a five second wait on YouTube. The times have changed and so have I.

To make the gatherings of old a reality today is something that requires effort, patience, a disregard for hygiene, and some like-minded friends. Yeah right.

I’ll forever crave the next step, but there are things I’ll forever miss.

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