LAN parties are a sacred ritual in PC gaming. A magical weekend where friends gather to binge videogames, Doritos, and more energy drinks than any healthy human should ever consume. But, sadly, with the proliferation of high speed internet, the impetus to pack all your gear into a bag and haul it over to a friend's house just isn't there anymore. LAN parties are still amazing, but they're slowly fading into history.
That's why we asked our readers to share their favorite LAN party memories with us. Honestly, I wasn't prepared for the waves of nostalgia that would crash over me as I read through each and every one of those comments. Yes, even the stories of people vomiting or shitting their pants bring back warm, squishy memories.
Of the hundred-plus comments we received, I've picked my favorite stories to share with you below. Some are gross, some are hilarious, but all of them encapsulate the magic of those sweaty, sleepless weekends.
What's a little puke among friends?
It's a pretty special thing when you make friends with someone online while playing a videogame. But I can't say I'd recommend immediately going over to that person's house without knowing anything about them and then getting blackout drunk. I'm pretty sure Chris Hansen would have a thing or two to say about that. Barrence and his friend didn't follow this sound advice. Fortunately neither were murdered—but I'm willing to guess the LAN party host was thinking about it after what happened.
I love telling this story. Alright, so a friend of mine brings his PC over and we're just hanging out, playing Battlefield on random servers and lamenting over the fact that we never get the chance to go to LAN parties any more. We're in the Seattle area, and I see a server called "Emerald City LAN." That sounds promising, so I join and the people are pretty talkative. After plenty of virtual killing goes on, I ask if they have a group that does local LAN parties on a regular basis. They say, "Well yeah, we're having one right now. You wanna come over?" This seems like it could be a scam to get me over there and murder me, but sure why not?
So we pack up our crap and drive an hour to an already in progress LAN extravaganza being held in the garage of this guys duplex on a searing hot mid-July afternoon. We arrive and see a garage door part way open, being supported by eight box fans pointed out. These guys are hardcore.
I rap on the door, "Hello? pizza delivery!"
"Oh sweet, the pizza's here!"
"Nah, I'm just fuckin with you, it's the creepy guys from the internet earlier today"
"Oh, yeah ok, come in".
I lift the door to the sound of about 20 vampire hisses as their skin reacts to the horrible burning sunlight of death. "Holy crap, close the door! Go around you maniac!" That's my bad, that one is on me. We make our way inside and are greeted by a couple of the attendants. I extend my hand and offer one of them a standard greeting.
"Hey, I'm Barry." He looks down at my hand with confusion, then looks back at me, the confusion still flooding his vision, and very slowly extends his hand to meet mine.
"Uh... yeah, hi, I guess... I'm John... but... we kinda go by our handles here." My mistake, I apologize for being a weirdo. Did I mention these guys were hardcore? As I don't know these people, I brought a case of beer as a peace offering. "Oh, yeah, cool, just put it upstairs I guess".
Ok, no problem. I head upstairs to the kitchen, and holy crap, I swear, someone came in here, stole the entire kitchen, and replaced it with a liquor store. I'm essentially tossing an eye dropper into a swimming pool here. The entire fridge? Vodka. Counter space? why would you need that? Just vodka. Think those cabinets are for dishes? Nope, I'm afraid that would be for vodka. Now, some strange people might think an armoire is for storing clothes and linens. These people had two of them adjacent to the kitchen, but I think we all know that the real purpose of such a cabinet is for storing. You guessed it: vodka.
Eventually we did end up actually playing games and having a good ol' time. We would periodically stop to go upstairs and drink from the vodka pool, and everybody kept getting pissed at my buddy for showing up out of nowhere and being the best player there. At the end of the night, they went back to their personal liquor reserve and made an interesting concoction they called a "warp core" which is basically like 30 different rums, fruit juices, and some dry ice all mixed up in a giant bowl which everyone communally drinks from. I decided to refrain from the hepatitis juice, but my buddy was all about it. He then proceeded, soon after, to vomit all over the floor of their living room. We were then asked to leave...
Man, that was a good time!
Blood, Bath, and Beyond
One hidden benefit of LAN parties is having a huge group of people in one room that you can easily coordinate with on tactics. Normally that means deciding who to send to bombsite A and B on de_dust2 but in Jonathan's case it means grinding for months beforehand to build an army of highly overpowered World of Warcraft characters and obliterating everyone in PVP Battlegrounds matches.
My best moment of LAN gaming was my bachelor party. Eleven-and-a-half years ago, I decided the best thing I wanted before getting married was to have ten people in the same room playing World of Warcraft Battlegrounds. I had just rented a new place which had no furniture so plenty of room for large tables. We decided to run level 19 "twink" characters (dramatically overpowered characters because of incredible gear and lvl 60 enchants) combined with literally dozens of buffs, elixers, food, and drink. Back then you could stack as many buffs as you wanted. And of course, Deviant Fish so we all looked like pirates. We worked for months farming low level instances with our mains, running our twinks through them, and collecting all the mats needed for the buffs.
We named our new found twink guild Blood, Bath, and Beyond and set ourselves loose into Warsong Gulch. I remember telling my buddies that it would be fine if we died here and there, or if we lost here and there... We never did. We won. Every. Single. Battle.
Please understand, our main tank was a fury warrior with close to 2,000 health at level 19, at a time when most players had 400-800 HP. He was always followed by our priest to keep his HP full. Our two rogues had dual lifesteal daggers (a 400g enchant at the time) and made short work of any caster. Even with two at the flag to defend, we never had a need. Eight of us would run down the hill toward ten opponents, and all eight of us would easily destroy them all.
We played for three days. I lost count of how many games we won, but it was over a hundred. A few months later, Blizzard "fixed" many of the mechanics we had taken advantage of and twinking was never the same. But the memories live on.
The worst part of any LAN party is the inevitability that people will always come unprepared and delay the actual gaming as people have to troubleshoot or download updates. Really people, it's LAN etiquette 101.
Back when Team Fortress 2 was still very much the hype we had what is now referred to as the "download party". I made up flyers, sent out emails, and invited every gamer friend I know. I also repeatedly told them on every invitation to make sure and download the game ahead of time.
In the living room I set up two large tables with hubs and power strips running wires all over the place. I think 10-15 people showed up for the biggest lan party I ever threw. Massive towers and huge CRT's littered the table.
And no one had downloaded the game. Not a single one.
The entire night was spent not playing TF2 but clogging our router with multiple people attempting to download it at once. We just weren't built for this kind of bandwidth back then and I think we ended up playing one round, late in the night after downloads had finally finished.
We still had a great time, listening to music and playing hotseat Trackmania United Star Edition, but that poor TF2 never got the LAN party I wanted and we never had a party that size again.
Starting from scratch
Of all the stories that were shared, Devin's is my favorite because it perfectly captures the spirit of what LAN parties are all about: friendship and community. I could say more, but I think this story speaks for itself.
It was 2001-2002 or so, and I was a junior in high school and a new kid transferred from halfway around the country. I was fairly tech savvy at the time and had blazed through the limited PC courses that had been available at my high school. At the time I believe I was taking an HTML web design class when I started talking with this new kid. He showed me pictures and videos of these LAN things, that were completely unbeknownst to me.
My PC gaming experiences had been pretty minimal at that time. I had dabbled with Doom and few of the clones. I played around in Windows 3.1 and DOS, and even stepped further to create mods for Doom. But with the era of the N64 and Playstation, PC gaming had been pushed to the back burner. The videos of these gigantic LAN's he showed me, changed everything. Seeing around a hundred like-minded nerds congregated inside an airplane hanger gaming all weekend made me envious. I started talking to friends, and while some others had heard of these fabled LANs, no one had been to one, or knew how to host such an event.
Because my high school had the luck of being technologically advanced for the time, we had some kids who were ahead of the time. I wasn't necessarily one of them. I asked a lot of questions though, and after spending time with my friends playing games like Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat, later Battlefield 1942, I knew that I needed to be a part of what was happening in these games. Finding a home big enough to host a few friends was one thing, but after seeing videos of the grand events my friend had shown me, that was not enough. Another friend inside of our geeky circle had a parent who was a teacher. The teacher suggested that we could use one of the local schools.
It was perfect. We had power, we had access, we had internet, and all of our friends knew how to get there.
Four of us put everything into motion. We suggested the event to friends in school, and took a minimal effort in advertising to others. All four of us showed up. No one else.
It was still a fun event with some epic memories, but not what I set out to do. Month after month we kept the tradition growing. After a few months there was a dozen of us. The core members made it a tradition to go online and become 'ordained' by way of website. We moniker-ed our LAN Holywarz. (Albeit, this name was mildly offensive, but in a small town it went right under the radar).
We tore through the Saturday nights blasting terrorists, shooting down Nazis, or conquering Orcs. Toward the end of my high school career we had no problem getting 20-30 people at each LAN. It didn't cost anything. People brought their own food and drinks. Our core group dealt with setting up the network, burning software to discs (this was pre-Steam so we had hard copies of all the games and updates that people were going to need), and providing tech support enough to get newbies up and running.
I've been to some big LAN events since then. But nothing will ever surpass the fun I had at that time. Learning as we went, gaming until we fell asleep at our keyboards, gallons of soda, lugging our full-size monitors and Frankenstein cases out into public. It was a different era that without a doubt made me into the person and gamer that I am today.
If you're going to host a LAN party, the best thing would be to ensure no one else in the house needs to access the internet for anything that day. Of course, Pedro's friend didn't think to tell his older brother that.
Me and my mates were quite into World of Warcraft back in the day. We would gather at a neighbor's attic so we could all play together in some raids. Some of us didn't even have a laptop and would bring the PC tower inside a suitcase just for the LAN.
The Icecrown Citadel had just released and, for those who played Warcraft 3, we could barely contain ourselves. It was around the first weeks, so only the first wing of the raid had been released, and no one knew the tactics. It was trial and error until we could vanquish a boss.
Our neighbor's older brother was playing Counter-Strike: Source with his clan and was getting gradually more frustrated with the slow internet connection. Sometimes he would shout at us from downstairs to get off the internet, but no one cared, as we were approaching the last boss of the wing.
We just got out of a mind-blowing airship battle and after two hours of inviting and organizing and eight hours of raiding, we were face to face with the boss. When we were buffing up, we heard quick steps and a shout "That's enough!" The plug had been pulled. Everybody panicked as we were the raid organizers but we were only a third of the party.
My neighbor almost punched his brother, but one of us told to everybody run to his house, we would set up there again before everybody in the raid left. For some it was easy. For others, running 500 meters with the PC towers and screens would've been almost comical if not for the hours of hard work spent raiding about to vanish. When we finally went online again, we just had enough time to see the last raid members bidding farewell to each other and insulting us for leaving at the last boss.
This LAN party is straight fire
Listen people, I don't care how fun gaming is. You should never leave a BBQ unattended while you play.
My friends and I have regularly held LAN parties for over ten years now and we've had our fair share of stories. One that sticks out in my mind was when a friend was hosting a LAN in his living room that overlooked a brand new wood-decked balcony.
During the day of our LAN party, we decided to cook some BBQ using some disposable BBQ kits that were rested upon bricks. I was handling the cooking at the beginning but stupidly cut myself and had to let the rest of the gang sort it out themselves. At one point we had to stop cooking on them because they were too cold and so we left them outside and continued LANing up.
Later that evening, I was set up with my back to the double-glazed doors overlooking the aforementioned balcony when suddenly my friend started shouting at something behind me. I had my headphones on so didn't really know what he was saying, but turned around and was met with a five-foot-tall wall of flames. The LAN crew sprang into action and ran to the kitchen to get pots and pans filled with water. We hastily battled the flames while someone called the fire brigade to help us out.
During the rush to douse the flames, someone spilt some water on top of a rig that had a fan on the top (we didn't have a chance to turn them off when we saw the fire). In the nick of time, I spotted this consecutive catastrophe and managed to wipe the water away before the water (or shit) really did hit the fan.
Anyway, the firefighters eventually showed up and came in while bewilderingly glancing at our cramped setup to check that everything was safe. I'll never forget their smirks as they gave the all-clear and walked out.
I guess the obvious moral of this story is: don't have a BBQ on a wooden deck.
The great outdoors
People always claim that gaming is unhealthy because you spend so much time cooped up indoors, so why not take the gaming outside? Commenter BrianAnim definitely wins the award for most creative location for a LAN party.
We went camping with about a dozen of us took our computers, power, and networking equipment:
Take the shot
As someone who grew up with fairly strict parents who hated violence in games, I can sympathize with this story. After all, what's more important: Getting the winning kill or pissing off your uptight mom?
Had a LAN get together at my friends place probably around the time we were in 8th or 9th grade (We're 31 years old now). His parents are pretty straight-laced and weren't into letting him see R-rated movies and tried to limit his exposure to violence in movies and games.
Naturally Counter-Strike was first released around then so we were having a spirited match of what seemed like wholesome fun, until his mom happened to be over his shoulder when he snuck up and unloaded a shotgun clip into an opponent's back, pixelated blood flying everywhere. She made us shut the whole operation down.
When we asked, "Why'd you kill that dude right then when you knew your mom was right there?" He just shrugged.
"When you've got the jump on them, you gotta take the shot."
It's all fun and games…
...until someone shits their pants. Seriously, do you really think we'd write up all these LAN party memories and not include a story about someone defecating themselves? Matias Viola's story had me laughing my ass off, which is why I've decided to save the best for last.
First, sorry for my english, I'm a Spanish-speaking native from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Fourteen years ago, I was in charge of a cyber cafe. On Saturdays at midnight, the Cafe used to host LAN parties for long-time customers and friends. I was part of the LAN party and we'd play Counter-Strike 1.6, five-versus-five matches with four teams. It was really great, and a lot of skilled players were there. We used to have only ten PCs, the other two teams watched the matches and ate junk food while waiting for their turn.
One of the teams had a player we'd never seen before. He was a really weird guy: 18 years old, skinny as fuck, and couldn't stop eating chips. I was watching one of the matches and suddenly this weird guy (he was playing), yells, and asks if another player can take over his PC and play for a moment.
When this guy stands up to let another guy take his place, he puts his hand into his pants and pulls it out and it is completely covered in shit. This guy shit himself and when he saw I was watching he said "What have you done?" He then runs right to the bathroom, and I can't stop laughing. The guy starts calling for help, so I approach the bathroom and he hands me a piece of paper with a phone number. I call and it was his mom, so I ask her to bring this kid some clothes. Ten minutes later we all left the place because of the smell. It was just rotten. That guy was rotten from the inside. His mom came with clothes, enters to the bathroom, and then she takes his son out, looking to all of us. We let the place air out a little. Clean up the bathroom, throw this guy's chair out, and continue with the LAN party.
These were just some of our favorite stories. To read the rest, be sure to check out the comment thread from two weeks ago.
Some comments were edited for grammar and clarity.