DreamHack Summer 2011 recap: The Promised LAN

George Stipick

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DreamHack Summer 2011 has come and gone, leaving a rush of exciting replays and up-and-coming teams in its wake. But what if you weren't fortunate enough to make it out to Sweden and see LAN-party Mecca for yourself? We've got an in-depth recap of the electrifying event from Borderland Gaming's own Kast, who commentated at the event and lived to tell about it.

Hey guys, Kast with a K here. I'm pleased as punch to tell you about what it was like to be at the biggest LAN party in the world: DreamHack !

First off, I just have to say that, no picture, video, or article can express the magnitude of this event and the chaos that's happening 24/7. As soon as you walk into one of the main halls, you're greeted by a neon forest of LED lights coming from thousands of computers, monitors, and keyboards. Up above, you're presented with a nice canopy of stringed wires for power and internet that are supplied to every computer station, as well as some stray fog that's drifting from the main stage, where tons of events are going on. It remind of a dense jungle: sort of wild and untamed. You get the feeling like you could easily get lost in a sea of lights and sounds, becoming totally immersed into the gaming culture.

PCs as far as the eye can see. It doesn\'t get any better than that.

As you can see in the above photo, the BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) section is absolutely massive. From the beginning to the end of the warehouse, you'll be basking in the energetic glow of an array of monitors, desktops, energy drinks, and people walking all around. Food, beverage, and event booths line the warehouse walls, providing you with whatever you need to get your game on and to pwn your enemies. Did I mention that this festival of music, videogames, and live stage performances doesn't close? It's the same experience you'd have in a Vegas casino: 24-hour gaming inside a dazzling cave that doesn't give any hints about what time of day it is.

While I didn't get to spend as much time as I would've liked in the chaos of the BYOC section, there's a whole floor dedicated to eSports and to the higher, big-budget tier of the games industry. While I was primarily chained to the Bloodline Champions booth, there were all kinds of neat booths to satisfy every gaming crave. Booths for the major eSport games like Counter-Strike, Quake Live, StarCraft 2, and League of Legends were there in full force, with tricked-out computers running their games, as well as major hardware companies like SteelSeries, Intel, Alienware, and more. In addition, lots of top name SC2/LoL/BLC/Quake/CS players, teams, and commentators were on this hall, getting in on the plethora of tournament action on display. So if you want to meet them, all you have to do is save up and come join the party ASAP!

The finals for Bloodline Champions, my game of choice.

Speaking of people who came to DreamHack, the participation of both the players and crowd was equivalent to a soccer (or football, if you're European) match, on a slightly smaller but equally-as-zealous scale. Everyone had their grudges against certain teams, and the competition was fierce in every tournament. Whether it was because they lost in ladder games or because they wanted the underdogs to win, people in the crowd formed alliances and tried to barter with one another for who would be cheering for which team (fortunately, no nerd blood was spilled during these dealings). After all of the negotiations were over, cheering, clapping, standing ovations, and yelling would fill the air for those purely epic moments, when two evenly matched teams were fighting intensely to claim a spot in the grand finals.

But just like the internet, where people change their mind all the time, once the brackets for the tournament changed and different teams were up to fight, allegiances were broken and the negotiations began all over again. New friendships were made and some vendettas were born, just for the sake of hyping the games up and getting into the spectator spirit of eSports. Now imagine if all these negotiations were happening for 10 hours a day, for 3 days in a row, and then multiply that figure by the other dozens of booths around us from all the other games that had tournaments—and you start to get a tiny glimpse of what it's like to be at DreamHack, and to enjoy videogames the way they were meant to be seen and played.

Even small-time or practice matches drummed up spectators.

While on the topic of players and the audience, I'd like to mention that everyone there was really chill. Sure, everyone's a nerd, loves videogames, and gets hype over epic plays, but everyone was really relaxed while at the event. It felt like everyone was your friend that you had known for a long while (especially once you started drinking and talking after the main events for the day were over). Stories about life, failed love, and gaming all came together to form a pretty cool brotherhood of like-minded gamers. And yes, as you may have guessed, not many women were there in attendance—but there's always hope for the future, as casual games are becoming more popular, planting the seed for getting involved in the competitive gaming scene.

So if you still think that DreamHack is just a bunch of people sitting at a computer playing games all night and day, you're only partially correct. Yes, everyone's playing games, but it's more than that. It's the process of bringing the gaming community together, and being there to share the epic moments that'll make gaming history while making friends along the way.

As I said earlier, no article, video, or picture can ever give you the true DreamHack experience, so if you have some extra money and are willing to show off your 'nerd badge' with pride, save up your cash to buy a ticket to the next DreamHack! There's nothing better than sharing your passion amongst an ecstatic crowd of your fellow gamers.

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