A Lament For The LAN Party

Before broadband and the connected world of information, we found different ways to mix our social life and our games. LAN parties. Where our PCs had a big group hug and let us kill one another in peace. Michael Johnson remembers those times.

Growing up as a PC gamer in the 90’s was a curious experience, the dawn of the internet age was upon us, but everything was still a little bit rough around the edges. To illustrate this – try playing the dial-up modem noise to a millennial and tell them that this sound used to accompany turning on the internet and they’ll say something precocious like “You had to turn on the internet?” before laughing in your face and stealing all your pogs.

Despite that, game developers were determined to plough head-first into the online age, spurred on by the success of early trailblazers like id and Blizzard. Thus before the end of the decade we saw games release that were almost entirely designed to be played online, such as Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena, while Counter Strike followed not long after. The generation before me usually like to chip in at this point and fondly regale you with anecdotes of playing these games at university over their integrated LAN networks and shiny high-speed internet. My experience largely involved playing with dumb AI bots, struggling with high pings and connection errors.

The problem was that for many of us growing up as PC gamers, no matter how desperate we were to play these games, home internet speeds were terrible and dial-up was expensive. While broadband came to the rescue fairly quickly, at the time an alternative solution to this problem was required, it came in the slightly odd form of the LAN Party. For a short period of time every other exchange with a parent would include the sentence “You want to take the computer over to Christopher’s house and plug it into other computers? Whatever for?”

The LAN party, where you and six mates cram yourself into a dining room for a weekend, hook up your PCs with a complex series of switches, routers and CAT9 cables, somehow became quite the thing. It was a rare and much anticipated event, with excitable conversation and important organisational topics to be responded to in IRC. At every LAN countless energy drinks would be consumed, junk food gorged upon, a single tube of Pringles devoured in seconds and games would be played, finally the way they were meant to be – with other people. Although, then, as now – this was a mixed blessing.

Games were often a baptism of fire at our LANs – often only one player would actually own a game, while the rest resorted to downloading dodgy No-CD cracks from garish websites. Even so, few concessions were made to the unfamiliar. To this day I will not play StarCraft in any shape or form, so traumatic was that first experience; my friends heartlessly exploiting my lack of knowledge to finish me off mere minutes into my first game in a humiliating manner. I’m not proud of the piracy by the way – we were 15 or so years old and could only afford a small proportion of the gaming delights on offer. Most of us have since made amends to the industry by spending ludicrous amounts of money on games.

Another late 90’s fad came along and supported this new-found hobby – the internet cafe. Your mental image of an internet cafe may be busy professionals rushing in for a coffee and checking their e-mails in the age before wireless. My mental image merely recalls RealityX or RX – a windowless room, stocked with mid-range PC’s and filled with grubby teenagers. A scant £15 there would offer you access to their ‘all night’ deals, eliminating much of the LAN hassle.

RX was like a LAN legitimised. Suddenly people from school we didn’t even know liked games were turning up and it became something sociable. Sadly, the internet cafe bubble burst, towns like mine were unable sustain them and it was back to trying to find the time, space and absence of parents required to host LANs. One of my friends – now a programmer – vows that one day he will open a new RX.

Despite the logistical problems of a LAN – having to to trawl pop-up ridden internet sites for cracks and the hassle of getting your parents to agree to let you host such an event – they stuck in my circle of friends for many years. In early adulthood, we could operate them free of parental constraints, as flats were rented and cars were bought or passed down. They became an easy and cheap way of spending a weekend and we started to play longer form games. Civilization has always been a game that truly shines at a LAN – something that can be a little slow when played from your respective homes takes flight when combined with proximity to your continental neighbours. Freed from the limited AI, weekends would be poured into single marathon games of Civ. Time evaporated as we traded, warred and occasionally wept when our fortunes waned.

Civilization anecdotes have taken on legendary status within my friend circle: the never-ending but incredibly trivial banana wars, the grand siege of Hedgesgrad (my friend Hedges’ weird fondness for Soviet naming conventions deserves no further explanation) and the sharp-knifed twin brothers who would betray their sibling with only the slightest hesitation. A friend was once on the cusp of space victory, only for a pre-planned, co-ordinated nuclear armageddon to strike him down on the eve of his success. Dozens of nukes descended on his superior nation, bitter underdogs allying to deny the moment of glory; his victory, 4000 years and many many hours in the making, was gone and his cities were smoking ruins.

Once we even spent a New Year’s Eve at a Civ LAN and it was wonderful, sipping champagne at midnight as our nations raced each other to build the pyramids. The spontaneous, disharmonious and mostly just very loud renditions of Baba Yetu no doubt confounded the neighbours.

Here’s the thing though: some of the outside perception of LANs, from parents or more casual gamers, was that they’re for people too anxious, or too socially inept to have normal ‘healthy’ social lives. I recall a LAN we held at a student house when an unknown post-grad stumbled into the darkened room filled with computers, wires littering the floor. He blinked several times before sneering “What’s this then? The fucking Matrix?” That outsiders thought LANs bizarre and alien was probably part of the attraction too.

You don’t have to be a social pariah to enjoy a LAN though, of course. They were and are simply an alternative way to spend time with friends, indulging in a shared passion together. Obviously one aspect of this is a break with reality and shutting out the world for a couple of days, but in moderation that can be healthy too. The closest comparison I can make is going camping or to a music festival – you come home tired, happy and in desperate need of spending some quality time using various bathroom facilities.

LANs are perhaps not quite dead, though the notion of taking a desktop PC round to your mates house certainly seems less appealing to younger generations, brought up as they are with lightning fast internet and consoles that can actually do credible multi-player. For me though, LANs are over. Responsibility, parenthood and using the weekend to have a bloody good rest have all entered the equation in my circle of LAN companions (LANpanions), edging out the desire to indulge in something that takes so much planning, effort and time. I still meet up with many of my LANpanions though; we will reminisce and someone will float the idea of holding one – plans are made, schedules discussed, games are suggested and then it never happens.

The overriding sentiment seems to be “Why bother with a LAN, when we all have high-speed internet?” My answer to that is that LANs were about a little bit more than just playing games together. It may have been the nerdiest sub-culture this side of Dungeons & Dragons, but LANs were that first taste of multi-player for many of us, free of the toxicity we now find online. They were story creators, anecdote makers and they bound us together, as we weathered the bemused questions of our long-suffering parents and got down to the important business of fragging one another.

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  1. tomxp411 says:

    LAN parties are to Nerds what going to a sportsball game is to Norms: it’s the chance to get together and be social while also doing something you love.

    I still love a good LAN party, although most of the people I would LAN with are scattered all around the country these days.

    • Razgovory says:

      Man, I didn’t know anyone still did this. The last time I was at one was back in 2000 where we rented a ballroom at a hotel. Hell of a thing. Dozens of us were there. After that we all went to our separate colleges. It was sort of a farewell to an era.

  2. lord_heman says:

    At the age of 33, my friends and I still have LANs. We meet up; 15-20 friends, and game for a weekend. It keeps something alive inside of us – some of that magic feeling we all had, when we FINALLY could meet up and play multiplayer games several decades ago.
    I still remember my first LAN – Xwing vs. TIEfighter in multiplayer; oh boy was that a magic moment in my life!!

    • G-Lord says:

      Same here, I just organized the last LAN party over new year. It’s not the same of course, with everyone just bringing in their laptop instead of carrying around massive CRT monitors, but it’s still the same circle of friends. I’m just a bit sad that I’m one of the few people in the group that kept owning a decently specced PC, so any modern games are out of question. We just tend to play the same classics we played back in the day (Empire Earth, Battlefield 1942, Red Faction etc.).

      • jezcentral says:

        Now I’m 44 and a husband and father, my annual visit to a LAN party (LeachLAN), is the only time I get some guilt-free gaming in (and eating and drinking).

        I get to be a student again for four precious days. (But I stay in a hotel, rather than a tent, nowadays. There are limits.)

  3. Wolfman says:

    Ahhh the forgotten art of network topology. Star? Ring? End to end?

    I remember lugging huge pcs and CRTs over to mates many times by foot.

    There is nothing like late night Lan party AVP with lights off and the loud sound of your friends screaming in horror and laughter.

    • drakkheim says:

      The good old days of spending hours running cables, getting ipx/spx drivers installed by swapping floppy discs and yelling at config files and then the magical moment when you load up Doom and see another person staring back at you on the screen.
      There was a sense of magic about that.
      Followed by rockets, machinegun fire, caffeine and lots of colorful language.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        Reminds me of how I hacked the school’s library computers’ admin access, just to be able to install IPX support and LAN-play Dungeon Keeper 1… and making IPX work was the hardest part!
        (As a side effect, now that I had admin control, I could disable the overly sensitive parental control and finally do homework research properly, without it blocking every third legitimate website!)

  4. Timberwolf says:

    Going to a LAN for me is like throwing away adulthood and regressing to an earlier age for a weekend – junk food, late nights, the idea of an all-you-can-eat buffet as the pinnacle of culinary achievement, and a belief that sleeping in the boot of a Volvo is a perfectly reasonable accommodation arrangement. That, and the inevitable, “can you mix Jack Daniels and Soda Stream energy drink syrup? Only one way to find out!” shenanigans.

    There’s one thing missing from modern LANs, though. Or rather, one thing present. Internet connectivity. As a friend of mine once put it, “a LAN should be an island, not a peninsula”. It’s just not the same when someone has an outdated driver or a motherboard compatibility problem and they solve it with a quick Google rather than the contrary and utterly wrong opinions of 30 different people who haven’t a clue how to fix things but won’t let that get in the way of offering some sort of misguided help.

    And even with chat servers, fast Internet cannot compare to the fun of all being in a room together. For a start, at home I can play Trackmania for more than 3 minutes without someone nearby going, “ooh, is that Trackmania? Is there a server up?”

    • AceJohnny says:

      Yeah, lack of Internet and the creative ways around that was to LAN Parties what starvation was to the Siege of Leningrad.


      Sure, it was a shared experience, but $*%& we’d get started with the gaming only mid-Saturday afternoon when enough people had gotten their systems to boot (what was it with failing computers at a LAN? my pet theory was the hard-drives needed to be unplugged before you moved them), and sync’d up their versions of Counter-Strike to play together (“Who has the R/W CD with the 1.2->1.2b patch!?”)

      No, I’m very glad that part’s gone, at least.

      • jonasjonas says:

        I remember messing around with coax cables and desperately trying to find that last t-shaped cable-end. Or my less computer-savvy friend who had waited 3 weeks to install his brand new Riva TNT only to find out his motherboard wouldn’t accept it:-). Those LANs were amazingly difficult but all of us learned so much about computers that todays youth simply never do

  5. anandus says:

    I still have a LAN party a few times a year, mostly playing Civ.

    With the power laptops possess nowadays setting up a LAN party is easier than ever, it’s no longer the logistical nightmare it used to be.

    To be honest, I don’t like online games as it lacks the social component LAN parties have. I mean, you can chat, but it’s just not the same.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Yeah, I know of a gathering point where thirsty Internet junkies meet to gorge on free Wi-Fi with their laptops (and sometimes desktops!). After a while it turned into a semi-permanent LAN party!

  6. Baines says:

    There was also the console gaming counterpart, which has also faded with the rise of internet gaming. (Heck, these days it feels like it is easier to find new games with four player local play on PC than on console.)

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Heh, in fact a few years ago I set up a pretty weird split-screen multiplayer game that worked pretty well, involving :
      – My laptop
      – a flat screen TV
      – two Xbox controllers
      – one PS3 controller
      – Unreal Tournament 3 configured for 4-way split screen

      I left the keyboard+mouse of my laptop to the gal that was the worst FPS player among us, so it balanced out pretty well.

  7. MessyPenguin says:

    LAN’s for me are no more, but me and my LANpanions still discuss how our retirement home is going to be awesome :)

  8. Freud says:

    I played Diablo on LAN. It had friendly fire. It was almost impossible not to kill your melee buddy.

  9. Carcer says:

    “The LAN party, where you and six mates cram yourself into a dining room for a weekend, hook up your PCs with a complex series of switches, routers and CAT9 cables”

    I have been struggling for quarter of an hour trying to find a way to express my dissatisfaction with this sentence without being a complete arse. This cannot be healthy.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Don’t worry, we had already advanced to operable windows. Not that we used them. Or that the current version is much better.

    • Michael Johnson says:

      Well, I just turned up with my computer and let the others do the technical stuff! I have already been heavily chastised by a LANpanion for saying CAT 9 rather than CAT5 (or RJ45)

      • OmNomNom says:

        I just assumed that you meant coax not CAT9 and you are really old like me (mid 30s)

      • bananana says:

        You may or may not want to google “cat 5 of nine tails”.

    • Rikstah says:

      You mustn’t have been a PC Gamer for very long if this is what you think. You simply don’t get the era he was talking about.

  10. rocketman71 says:

    Why lament the LAN Party?. We still do one every month and it’s great fun. You can do one yourself too!

    If you do want to lament something, lament idiot publishers that don’t put LAN mode or dedicated servers into their games anymore. Needless to say, those games don’t get bought by us. If they don’t want our money, it’s their problem.

    • Emeraude says:

      If you do want to lament something, lament idiot publishers that don’t put LAN mode or dedicated servers into their games anymore.

      This mostly, yeah.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Even worse are those that *remove* full Internet Protocol multiplayer*, with the pretext that it would be too much hassle to rip out the old networking code by defunct companies (WON, Gamespy…), like Dawn of War 1 or Homeworld Remastered.

      Thankfully, it would seem that there are modders that are finding ways to re-enable full IP MP for these games again :
      link to forums.gearboxsoftware.com

    • BlueTemplar says:

      *I’ve seen people call it “LAN play”, but IMHO it’s much more than that :
      You can input *any* IP(v4) address to connect to the host of the game, even if not on the same Local Area Network, and you don’t actually *need* any third party tools like Hamachi or Tunngle, as long as the host has proper Internet access (aka has control of his own router, which is often NOT the case for cellular “ISP”‘s) and knows how to set up port forwarding.
      IMHO the “LAN” moniker should be reserved for the (rare) games that can scan your LAN only to find hosts, and that don’t allow inputting IP numbers (I think Dungeon Keeper 2 is like that?).

  11. Rymosrac says:

    In a little town in Idaho, I’m still hosting 12-24 player LANs for my friends every month or two, as I’ve been doing for well over a decade now, and they haven’t gotten any less fun even if the logistical appeal has waned somewhat. They’re still a huge an important part of my relationship with both gaming and with those friends, and the lack of support for LAN play in so many new games is genuinely heartbreaking.

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      The Almighty Moo says:

      Private lanning in your own private Idaho?

      Sorry, couldn’t resist

  12. TML8 says:

    “They were and are simply an alternative way to spend time with friends, indulging in a shared passion together. Obviously one aspect of this is a break with reality and shutting out the world for a couple of days, but in moderation that can be healthy too.”


    Man this article was such a wonderful read. Been reading RPS for a long time, but absolutely had to register to comment on this.
    The memories from the old(ish) days just barraging my brain. Oh and the gaming (internet) cafes! Man playing Diablo 1 at one of these throughout the night was something.

    Anyway back to present day.
    Our gaming group consists of maybe 20’ish close friends, and we are all around 30 years of age.
    We still have 2 LAN parties every year, and they usually last from Tuesday to Sunday. Ok, well, most arrive on Wednesday but some of us go for Tuesday. Someone who couldn’t arrange work might start Thursday, but it’s still a good while.
    Fairly long LAN party, but why not if people can arrange it? Actually quite astounding since a number of us even have kids.
    We all lug desktop PCs, and people even grab their own chairs with them. Generally around 14’ish of use attend each LAN, so we rent out a place since that already takes a fair amount of space.

    It is simply a superbly fun getaway from responsibilities etc, and it is 100% pure hanging out accompanied by some great games.
    Although I must admit, especially at around 30 outside people are perhaps increasingly regarding it along the lines of, “what the hell”. But hey, we sure as hell are having fun.

    LANs were different sin the 90’s, but at it’s core the modern day LAN is still the same. IMHO it’s much more about the atmosphere than the presence of an internet connection. Plus now we have a good number of folks tuning in on Twitch throughout the LAN. :)

    Oh boy, only some 3 months to go until the next one. Can’t wait.

    • Reivles says:

      For me, the desire is still there, the actual substance has shifted to board games – 4-5 bodies sitting at the table laughing and scheming together, it’s got the same kick. Except that you’re bringing one box per game and need only a couple hours in the evening to get through it.

      It’s not quite the same, of course – no PCs for one, and none of those mad all nighters either – but it’s funny how well it’s worked out, even so.

  13. Jungle Rhino says:

    You forgot the bit where someone has to reinstall Windows because their network card simply didn’t work – despite it working perfectly the previous weekend.

    Every time – goddamn Windows 95!!

    For me it was Quake 1,2,3, Action Quake 2, SMAC, C&C Generals, and the most glorious of all games – Total Annihilation!!

    • TheRealHankHill says:

      It’s not a LAN if someone doesn’t have to reformat lmao.

      • Boronian says:

        It is the LAN’s law. Every friggin’ time one guy couldn’t play because his network card wasn’t working anymore. And then looking for different drivers or just formatting the pc. These were the options you had. Most of the times it was easier just to reinstall Windows though..
        The only thing to do was to pray that it wasn’t you…

        Nowadays LANs got so easy…everybody brings his laptop for a long Saturday, no big room with a lot of space needed anymore.

        But still I will never forget the good old times. 5 days of every school vacation we sat either in a friend’s basement or attic (the heat there was unbearable…). 10-15 boys, playing, sharing, having fun. Problem always was to find a place to sleep :-) Well we were young and could take a lot more than now.
        Starcraft, Halflife Opposing Force, Halflife Battlegrounds, Counter Strike, Warcraft 3 funmaps (Enfo especially), GTA 2, Age of Empires 2, C&C 3, Rune, Unreal Tournament, Diablo 2, Baldur’s Gate 2, Icewind Dale 2, … I am sure forgetting some..
        And now everybody moved and it is difficult to come together again. It is sad because I know they all would be up for it again. Playing online isn’t just the same.

    • jaza says:

      Agreed, we too had some epic games of Total Annihilation, it really is the ultimate RTS game for a LAN party. We also enjoyed less serious interludes with games of Worms – more rolling on the floor laughing than actual gaming, I don’t know why you’d even bother playing Worms with people who aren’t in the same room as you. May the Holy Hand Grenade live forever!

      • BlueTemplar says:

        Worms is probably even better in Hotseat, LAN is rather unnecessary for this great game!

  14. fiah says:

    LAN parties were grand, many epic games were had and much energy drink, snacks, pizza and booze was consumed. Apart from getting everybody setup playing the same game, I remember one major struggle being power distribution where I once overheard “alright lets make some coffee” and only got to screaming “nnnnNNNNONOOOOO!!!” before the coffee machine overloaded the circuit breaker powering down every single computer. Other struggles included inadequate switch bandwidth as the LAN started to break down under the rampant swapping of games, movies and porn after everybody got their IP addresses and file sharing going. Oh the porn, everybody was playing games of course but with nary a woman or girl in sight there was at least 1 screen out of 20 showing porn for a good portion of the first night with a small crowd of onlookers

    Internet cafe’s were something special too, and I’d remember more of those nights if they weren’t so liberal with the red vodka/red bull

    Online gaming these days is great of course, but that special kind of magic where everybody is trying to play this new game no one knew yet in between bites of microwaved pizza is something different, something I’d like to do some time again

  15. bishmanrock says:

    At the age of 28, and after many years of threatening, this year marked the very first year I managed to arrange a LAN party. The first one I’d even been to. I absolutely loved it, as did everyone in attendance (although Jesus wept the room can’t half get hot).

    We arranged a second, but it was a bit disheartening that the new Unreal Tournament removed their LAN functionality prior. Games of choice were Aliens versus Predator 2, Savage XR, Garry’s Mod, and Guns of Icarus, which isn’t the mix I’d have expected but we were (mostly) winging it and it ended up going down pretty well. AvP2 was by far my personal fave – facehugging someone and hearing them cry in horror from across the room is a thing of glory.

    We did have a third one arranged, but then summer happened, so we’ve pushed it back to September. I expect we’ll be keeping it up for a long time now we’ve developed a taste for it.

  16. Barberetti says:

    I used to live in a 6 bedroom shared house. We were all networked up, and at any time there was a LAN match of some sort going on. The weekends were the best. There’d be anything from 2v2v2 or 3v3 Quake 3 matches, to drag racing in NFS: Underground 2. We all had our doors open, so no need for Skype or whatever back then, we all just shouted at each other.

    After each match, we’d congregate in one of our rooms, crack open more beers and smokes, and have a good chat and laugh about it.

    The funniest bits were as it got later and everyone got more wrecked, you’d see people killing themselves trying to rocket-jump, crashing into buildings etc. It was glorious.

    LAN gaming. Easily the best multiplayer memories of my life. I’ve had some great times online, but nothing come close to those days.

  17. FrozenLiquidity says:

    As with many here, in mid-30s now and still do LANs with as many others that can attend, about once every other month. Great fun and I can’t imagine leaving those to the past myself, though some have had to as life, wife and youngins take priority.

  18. Nick says:

    I invested in a serial cable to play with one friend back in the day.. mainly Doom shareware Coop and a few other bits and bobs. The real joy was convincing my dad to let me install Doom and then, a fair bit later on, Quake 2 and Action Quake 2 and Starcraft (turned out if you entered all 3s as the serial key it worked) on his office PCs and geting a bunch of friends round on a Saturday after the shitty sports based saturday our school made us do. Nothing really ever compared to that feeling.

  19. It's not me it's you says:

    Maybe… schedule a LAN then?

    We get together with friends to play games regularly. To be fair, we mostly end up playing board games these days (sitting around a table playing with plastic and cardboard makes the whole social aspect of these gatherings even easier to enjoy) but we’ve got a LAN coming up next week!

  20. TheRealHankHill says:

    We never stopped having LANs, it’s easy as pie to do now. I don’t understand when people think LAN parties are dead, maybe for y’all they are but we have been going strong lmao. All you need is a table, some chairs, some power strips, and a router… I will stop having LANs when I die.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Not to mention pretty powerful laptops!

      And with software like Connectify, you don’t even *need* a router!
      link to connectify.me

      • BlueTemplar says:

        (an *external* router that is, your laptop is going to serve as a router. Can probably do it with a smartphone too.)

  21. calsy says:

    Ahh quality porn trading.. I mean gaming to be had at LAN parties.

  22. MadTinkerer says:

    “Games were often a baptism of fire at our LANs – often only one player would actually own a game, while the rest resorted to downloading dodgy No-CD cracks from garish websites.”

    I believe a big part of this was due to the lack of online sales systems. Back in the Stone Age most games were only on shelves for a year, sometimes less. If you didn’t save up your $30 before it disappeared, you’d have to pray for a budget CD release, or comb through the obsolete detritus on offer at computer fairs. (Need a physical copy of a Pentium PC flight sim? Make sure to check the old Tandy and Macintosh boxes, because there’s a 50/50 chance the person selling it to you couldn’t tell you the differences between Falcon 3.0 and Oregon Trail for the Apple II.) If the LAN party is already happening right now, neither of those options are viable.

    Nowadays, the main problem is figuring out how to physically hook up the PCs together. Good luck connecting your netbook to my laptop. But if we somehow manage it, we could then legitimately buy some games off GoG and Steam right now that would work! For cheap!

  23. bhumphries says:

    We’ve got a pretty good LAN gaming scene in Atlanta right now. I’m part of a LAN group that meets regularly and has a fairly active community. It’s growing much faster than we expected — which is awesome! If anyone in the ATL area is looking for a cool group of people to LAN and chat with, you’re more than welcome to join us! link to facebook.com

    We also have a Discord server where people meet up all the time to play games like Overwatch. Hopefully some of you will join us! :-)

  24. batraz says:

    One thing only : any girls were going to such events ? Ok, not less than to my sports or garage band afternoons, I guess. But that’s a thing I can’t regret from teenagehood : the horrible sexual segregation. And sorry to you former LAN-girls, I was speaking in general terms.

  25. Rikstah says:

    This has to be my favourite article of all time on this website.

    Totally mirrored my own PC gaming experiences.

  26. Premium User Badge

    The Almighty Moo says:

    Running something on August St mine, but it’s a mixed crowd so I’m not sure who will be game for what.

    Something missing from the article, the old ‘whose got which patch and which maps and this ckntebt’ and then burning CDs or attempting ropey network shares to transfer the files to even begin, meaning that you would get maybe half an hour of actual game time before it was time to pack everything up and go home.

    I miss spawn installers, it was such a nice lovely thing to do for us cash strapped teens

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Yeah, the article forgets about the Spawns… which StarCraft 1 had, and Blizzard even added a form of it to StarCraft 2… (but still requiring to be online if I’m not mistaken!) :
      link to us.battle.net

  27. trashmyego says:

    A correction that should be made: Counter-Strike was a thing before Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 were released. It was around as a mod in 1999 before Valve hired the team to do the official release the following year.

  28. tkioz says:

    I miss the LAN so much, even though more time was spent lugging CRT monitors around and fixing network settings then actually playing it was such great fun!

    It got better in the early ’00s when my circle could all afford decent laptops, but sadly people started pairing and spawning and the weekly event became monthly then quarterly before finally petering out.

  29. Leafcutter says:

    Not quite a LAN, but I remember transporting my Pentium 2 to my friends house and connecting it to his computer with a serial cable.

    Spend a disproportionately amount of time getting the 2 PCs to recognise each other.

    Then playing through the Quake 2 campaign in co-op mode…. that is we could see each others character on our respective screen and talk to each other across the table at the same time. Great Fun….

    As a parent now, I would definitely consider this a healthy social pastime compared with kids today, their heads constantly buried in their phone etc… and Co-op seems to be coming back into vogue.

    Also, I started playing EVE online from Beta for 10 years… at the start it was over a 56K telephone line…. I shared a flat and had to wait until girlfriend phone calls had completed before I could settle into a late night session of play… probably partly responsible to my continued habit of late night gaming many years later.


  30. BlueTemplar says:

    try playing the dial-up modem noise to a millennial and tell them that this sound used to accompany turning on the internet and they’ll say something precocious like “You had to turn on the internet?” before laughing in your face and stealing all your pogs
    Interesting, so “millenial” only covers the “Facebook/iPhone” generation now?

    I guess it’s a more precise definition, but I’ve also seen the definition of “millenial” as “someone born between 1980 (so 36 years by now) and ~2010”, which includes me born in the mid 80’s (I remember pogs really well), and probably the author.

    • nootrac4571 says:

      As much as such things have any official meanings (which is to say, pretty much not at all), “Millennial” traditionally refers to people who were born between around 1983 and 1999; the original intended meaning being the generation who were born in one millennium but became adults in the next. But I’ve often seen it applied recently to people born in the 21st century – maybe due to some confusion between the terms “Millennial” and “Post-Millennial?” I’m just guessing though.

      The “proper” term for the youth of today is Generation Z, or sometimes the iGeneration (because smartphones!), or the Homeland Generation (because 9/11!) – we apparently haven’t decided yet, which is not that surprising considering that these things generally get named decades later with the benefit of hindsight.

      Terms like “Baby Boomer,” “Generation X”, “Millennial,” and “Generation Z” are all pretty meaningless and vague demographic buzzwords though, and tend to be very US-centric, so I wouldn’t worry about their precise usage too much.

  31. Loser says:

    Wow does this resonate with me!
    Although I never managed to convince my friends to civ LAN, but the setup, the attempts to get things working, one guy who needs a format (and sometimes does it at the LAN).
    I was still doing a few a year when I left Australia, but only a few of my friends in London are gamers so I’ve only managed a couple since I came here. People travelling, working etc etc.

    Much easier with decent gaming laptops, I have to say. Lugging CRTs around back in the day is a distant, horrible memory.

  32. Gibbonius says:

    Great nostalgia post! We had several LANs, trouping round to each other’s houses with CRTs and enormous towers eating just pizza, cookies and sweets. I would love to do it again for my 30th birthday later this year but I probably only have the space for 3 or 4 people. I think I’d have a good 10-12 willing attendees. I can’t seem to find anywhere that would want to provide the space. Someone should scoop up details of vacant office space and marry it up with people wanting to LAN.

  33. melnificent says:

    As everyone else here I guess, I’m mid 30’s and LANs were the highlight of our weekend at college. I was the first with a driving licence and car, so would pick up people and PCs, CRTs in the boot, towers on legs, and pile round to whoever was hosting that weekend. Mine was the least powerful machine (I had a car to run/fix), so if it ran on mine we were set. Quake was a new release at the time I started college so that was top pick for most weekends, with some red alert and others to chill out with.

  34. Premium User Badge

    Nehvrook says:

    Still having regular LANs here with my friends. It’s a damn good time. Most recently we played some of the new alpha UT, we just wanted to try it but ended up playing for hours. Good stuff.

  35. Crazy_Gweilo says:

    My friends still have a 4 day lan party every easter long weekend, although children and international relocations have thinned numbers somewhat.

  36. Aldwin says:

    Wow, talk about a trip down memory lane. Had a pretty similar experience – used to LAN regularly with high school and then university friends, which then petered out with work and families. I actually keep thinking about trying to arrange another LAN for my 35th birthday this year – this article has renewed my determination!