Gone are the days of heavy CRT monitors and Pentium II's running Unreal Tournament GOTY edition in little back-alley scout halls and rumpus rooms. LANs in today's climate are run as a professional business, alongside being built to please the consumer. However still fun, LANs have had to adapt to new-age technology and business requirements, developing their own company structure, back-end programs, massive server systems and online presence. No longer is a large LAN a simple 'turn up and run' type event, with weeks of sponsor negotiations, game server setups, announcement articles and venue contract negotiations to happen before a single CAT 6 cable is laid or one table is placed.
We sat down with Good Gaming Fun LAN (GGF) head admin Stuart Tonks to have a bit of a chat about his extremely sponsor-aware business and how the internet has shaped the in-person gaming of today.
Running a 200 person event out of the sunny Queensland, Australia has been trying of Tonks and his staff, often seeing this Australian state displaying the strong stigma of video gaming being only for 'nerds' with a heavy focus drawn to this states luscious beaches and bush land activities surrounding the outer suburbs. However, GGF has done quite well for itself, nabbing contracts to display systems for Cooler Master, ASUS, Corsair and Thermaltake at PAX Australia 2014, alongside running their own specific review channel. These last two points coincide with their online appearance which is a constant must in this new-age of LAN parties - sponsors require support throughout multiple outlets, as simply providing door prizes and banners will no longer 'cut the mustard'.
In our brief talk, Tonks mentioned that "funding the wonderful technology called 'the internet'" is a major LAN party issue, mentioning that "online games are becoming the norm, making it harder and harder for LAN parties to survive." To combat this, his LAN event tries "to keep true to the name [LAN] and keep the internet down to the minimum. This has its advantages. Yes, people enjoy playing locally and having a laugh. But the other real issue is more and more games are only internet friendly, which only makes them playable at LAN events with high speed internet access."
It's basically impossible for a LAN to function in today's climate without a high speed internet connection. As you can see through Tonks' words, even though you may promote local gaming as a priority, there is still a need for your customers to use things like Steam and Battle.net logon services before being able to play their game at a local level - this is coupled with online-only games like League of Legends now making it into the mainstream, seeing internet access emerge from a luxury to a necessity.
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- Page 1 [LAN parties are still alive and kicking]
- Page 2 [The shaping of LAN culture over the years and how the internet has changed it all for good]
- Page 3 [Finding a suitable venue and issues surrounding this support]
- Page 4 [Growth in attendance and much-needed sponsorship support]
- Page 5 [Continuation of LANs well into the future]
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