It's that time of the year again: you've got your PC, monitor, keyboard & mouse, a trillion power cables and sleeping bag packed in the car. You multiply your hourly consumption of Red Bull / Coke / pizza / cigarettes by a possible 81 to figure out how much to buy at the supermarket on the way down to Newbury... as you may have guessed by now, it's now just Party Time... it's LAN Party Time!
Here in the UK, there is but one company that springs to mind when you think "LAN Party", and that is Multiplay: now celebrating their 19th event, Wizzo and his crew of logistical ninjas and network admins have once again hijacked Newbury Racecourse under the guise of i19. These i-Series events are the biggest LANs anywhere in the UK, with anything up to 1,000 gamers descending on this sleepy Berkshire town with PCs en tow to meet up with their clanmates.
The ACON4 tournament will see players wage battle in Blizzard Software's Warcraft III in a series of national tournaments across the globe - qualifiers in 50 cities in 19 countries, with the national champions of each country flown out to Shanghai, China for a chance to crown themselves as the World Champion, and walk, nay drive, away with a car.
This ambitious format is unlike anything previously attempted, save for the annual World Cyber Games, and with co-operation from a wealth of sponsors, it represents a significant show of support by industry giants toward the so often overlooked world of gaming, and the gamers themselves.
To see what all the fuss was about, we drew straws and I was the lucky bod sent along report on the event, and chug some brews with some of the industry's finest - it's a tough life, but someone has to live it :)