The whole concept of a LAN party was new to me up until three weeks ago and, to be honest, I always thought there was a bit of a stigma attached to them in terms of how geeky they are. When I told some of my friends what I was doing some scoffed and some didn't have a clue what one was, but most were just amused that I
was even going to one.
I too was sceptical at first but, as I watched my cousin's boyfriend excitedly pack numerous bits of electronic equipment into the back of his car, I realised that there was more to a LAN party than I thought. I tried to go in with an open mind, even though I’ve never been a big gamer in the past. A few Wii games and Pokemon: Silver
on the DS are the limits of my gaming credentials.
So, I was crammed into the back of a car next to a giant television, on my way to a LAN party where fifteen other people were already waiting to kick some serious butt. Then, before I knew it, I was immersed in a tense game of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
and was congratulating myself for finally shooting someone after four minutes of play. My joy was short lived, as a friend crept up and stabbed me in the back just seconds later – a tactic he used for the rest of the game. It was frustrating to die so quickly and regularly, but I was still hooked.
SSH! I'm hiding!
What I found particularly fun about LAN parties is the playful banter that happens between the players, whether it's threats of vengence or the congratulatory comments that follow an impressive kill. Having played in a smaller room away from the bigger crowd, hearing from afar the commotion the game caused was hilarious. Only after two hours of play did I start to flag, leaving others to battle on without me.
As a new player, I learned a few things from playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
. Don't camp because you're just going to get shot before you realise what's happening. Don't panic. A bazooka always helps.
Occasionally I found myself involved in a team game, which put a huge amount of pressure on me considering that I spent most of my time either dead or hiding - which was met by the disapproving groans of my allies. Having me on their team was a hindrance to them, I think.
After a couple of hours of play, I decided to try something else. Super Smash Mario Bros
on the Wii was a welcome break from the despair of dying for the umpteenth time. Again, it involved everyone at the party, with onlookers yelling support when players were pitched to go head to head. People get so involved in playing a game that on occasion it was quite funny to see a guy release a string of curse words at Princess Peach for “floating too bloody much and not doing as she's effin’ told!
I'm the one on the left - source
on the Wii was next and provided a more energetic and fun way to get out of the game chair, but still gives you a chance to compete with each other. The only thing I didn't like about it was the remote didn't seem to pick up on my movements all that well, which made it even more frustrating than getting stabbed in COD. Either that or I'm a terrible dancer.
Even judging just on my limited experience LAN parties are a great way to get together with your friends and test out your game skills, or to build on them in my case. The key is that it’s not actually about the games themselves, but about getting together with friends to play in a fun and involving way. A party akin to a modern technological day tea party, though with a lot more swearing and junk food. Games are about socialising, whether it's through the headset or surrounded by others.
I didn’t have the abilities or the endurance of the others, but even I had a lot of fun and spent most of the weekend playing. I’d go as far to say that the only bad thing about it was the diet of pizza, crisps and fizzy drink, which left me buzzing like a five year old who’d OD’d on Smarties.
Still, despite the sugar-induced headaches, I still feel like I’ve been converted and only hope that, next time, I can kill more than six people in one game of Call of Duty. Then I’ll be better than Joe.