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 Sunday, 19 March 2006
Sunday, 19 March 2006 22:01:34 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

I belong to a local Minnesota email list which is used to organize and coordinate LAN gaming parties. Yesterday was the latest such LAN party and it was great fun - though a bit short for me. I had to leave early to get to my oldest son's band concert, which was a totally worthy cause for leaving the party.

For this particular group, the LAN party thing started years ago when Command and Conquer first came out. There were a few of us that would get together in a basement and play games of 2 on 2. Then Red Alert came out and we did the same thing. The PCs had some of the first ever 3D graphics cards (the PC finally caught up with what the Amiga had done some years prior...). You might remember these cards - you kept your original video card, and ran a cable between that one and this new one and then out to your monitor - quite a contraption.

The first truly big LAN party was at my house. We owned a house that had maybe 900 square feet on the main level, and had a partially finished basement. In that basement we had a 4x8 foot sheet of plywood mounted on a 2x4 table structure I'd built with help from friends. This table suited us well, because it worked great for role playing games, war games, big card games (like the excellent Hacker game by Steve Jackson Games) and so forth. It could also hold around 6 computer monitors - plus a couple more in my office and other people in corners. It was amazingly crowded - people climbing over each other to get in and out! I'm sure it was a death-trap if there'd been a fire. I think there were around 20 people crammed into my little basement.

For the past few years most of the parties have been at another friend's house. Chris has kindly rearranged his basement to fit everyone, and even did some rewiring to bring in enough electricity to run 30 PCs at once. But hosting parties of this size is a serious lot of work!

Yesterday there were nearly 20 people as well, but the party was held at my friend J.C.'s new house, in his newly finished walk-out basement. No crowding at all. Chris supplied tables, chairs and networking hardware. JC specifically had the rooms wired for this purpose to start with, so there were no power issues. All was nice, orderly and tons of fun!

I didn't really mind having to leave early, as the game I mostly wanted to play was Battlefield 2 - and that was first up on the agenda. So I got a good 3+ hours of play and enjoyed myself without reservation. It made for a wonderful break from real life for a short time.

Then I went to my son's concert, where he did an excellent job and we got to listen to some good music. Later this week there's even more kid stuff, as my goddaughter has an orchestra concert and my youngest son's school puts on their annual musical production.

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