PC Gamer LIVE!!!
This week I went to the PC GAMER:LIVE event, which was the first time I’ve ever been to a LAN event. Some people might wonder why I bring it up, but it’s certainly something I want to talk about. Those who’ve never heard of LAN events, it’s basically a chance for several people to come together with PCs (Though they were provided for us this time), and beat each other at games. Why am I talking about it? Because I realised something while I was there. I was playing Team Fortress with the Java Server peeps (Those that could get there anyway. All 6 of us. Sigh), which I could’ve done at home in my room on my PC. Yet I’d made my way into Manchester and played there instead. Why would I do that?
I can pin it down to two reasons. 1: I got to meet and beat the PCG writers. 2: I got to meet the people I’ve been playing games with online in person. The writers thing was fun, especially when I got Craig Pearson with a facestab and heard him at the end of the row go ‘Arrgh’. But I think the main reason I wanted to go was because I got to meet the Java Server peeps.
It’s one of those things where if you aren’t a gamer you wouldn’t understand the appeal. I was playing a game with someone who was 30 centimetres (Or a foot if you like imperial…) away from me, who I’d never seen in real life before but was quite happy to turn to him and call him and his mother several names under the sun because he’d backstabbed me. Again.
Trying to find an analogy that everyone could understand is hard. If you’ve ever been into a Games Workshop, you’ll see the enjoyment people have even though they’re just moving little models. There’s nothing there except the moving of models and rolling of dice. But people are drawn to it, maybe for the lore, but I believe that it was for the social aspect. D&D I’m almost certain was for the social aspect.
It is a completely different experience playing at a LAN event. From an outside point of view it doesn’t look like it, but the communication that happened was incredible. People sitting next to each other talking about the plan they had, and what their next grief would be*. It was an experience that I won’t forget.
It was also a chance for us to do crazy stuff that we wouldn’t usually do. We tried Expert Realism Left 4 Dead 2**.We would never have tried that in an online setting. It would’ve been too much bother to get a server together, get 4 people together and play it. Whereas seeing as we were on a LAN, we could just set one of us as a local server and play through it. In case you care, we did the first level and then died horribly. Again and again.
Maybe it’s time for the stereotype to be updated (I just broke a kidney at that thought). We gamers are actually social creatures. Get us in a group and we’ll talk for ages and have a damn good time (Especially if it’s a PCG event where we get freebies. Freebies make everything better). Since the event I’ve spent so much longer in chat speaking, even though I could be playing a game. Then of course, we pile into a server and insult each other while blowing ourselves to kingdom come. Games are a social medium, and it’s taken my first LAN to realise that they should really be treated as such.
*By the way: Dezzick and Pork Pie, don’t think I’ve forgotten about those sentries you put up outside our spawn point. I may have hit you with the newspaper then, but I will get you back so much more. Return to reading.
**For those that don’t know, L4D2 is that zombie apocalypse game, expert is the hardest difficulty where one stray shotgun blast will kill you, and realism mode is where the zombies don’t die unless you get them with a headshot. Return to reading.