I should preface this by saying that I don’t play a lot of computer (or console) games anymore. I’m not even on the WOW bandwagon, but I used to be a regular gamer and I still try to keep an eye on the industry.
I’ve noticed a trend in the gaming industry that has worried me for some time. It happened quite a while ago… there was no outcry, no one checked if I was ok with it… it just happened. They took all the LAN support out of games.
LAN stands for Large Area Network… and it used to be the social space for gaming geeks. We would all descend on someone’s house, link up all our computers and spend the weekend in a sleep deprived Valhalla of death matches, co-op strategy and camaraderie. Some of my most precious memories stem from this period of my life. Battling through the Dust mission in the original Counter Strike, frantically building up an army in WarCraft 3 or sniping from Faces in Unreal Tournament is so much more meaningful when that headshot you just pulled off causes the guy on the other side of the room to scream in anguish.
This style of play is not possible now. Modern games have dispensed with the LAN in favor of internet based multi-player. The internet is quite a cool place, I suppose, it allows you to play people from all over the world, people who you wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet otherwise, but it doesn’t have the same feel as getting a bunch of your mates into the same room and slaughtering them in your favorite FPS.
I always used to laugh at people who said that computer games were anti-social. I used to regularly get together with 12 or 15 of my friends (in person) and connect through the medium of gaming. Now I think those same people have a point (even if it is accidentally). Even with voice chat, it’s just not the same thing.
I miss LAN parties… I wonder if I can get a group of people together who want to play the ancient games that enabled this pinacle of geek culture…. Counter Strike anyone?
“Join the Army, see the world, meet interesting people – and kill them.” -Pacifist Badge, 1978