The following is a story that takes place over Labor Day Weekend of 2006, during which the Third Annual LAN Party was waged by what has become the ‘Tied the Leader’ community. If you are not a big reader, you are welcome to skip down to the video links at the bottom. I would recommend that you at least give those a watch.
The story begins as the TTL Gunslingers descend upon the City of Chicago. They came from as far as the salt flats of Utah and the hurricane alleys of Florida. The promise of a LAN Party drove them for miles. Most of them ended up in a hotel located in a neighborhood called the Gold Coast. All day long, familiar gamers arrived at the hotel bar, 2 by 2. They entered the room asking for The Gunslingers, always drawing nervous stares from other tables.
After enough drinks to make any photographer’s hand shake, we ended up on the roof in full-view of the towers. A late-summer wind whipped across the skyline. David Mammet had slept in this building, for those of you who know what a Glengarry Lead is…
The next morning revealed what turned out to be a beautiful day. The promise of the LAN Party could wait. After all, we had gotten to know each other over countless hours of gaming. For now, it was time to break some bread and hold palaver. The game would wait.
We invaded a choice beach-head in Belmot Hardor and set up camp. On Labor Day, the city is pretty much evacuated in favor of vacation spots in exciting places like Michigan or Wisconsin. Foolish! The best kept secret is to stay home. You can hold down what qualifies as beach property anywhere along the miles of lakefront park and make your own scene.
We set up a modest spread. Video game violence had lead to real life violence – against livestock. Ironically enough, our two most dangerous gamers revealed themselves to be pascifists in real life, opting instead for a vegan restaurant just inland. There, chefs carefully prepared hearty meals without harming a single hair on any a critter.
With the conclusion of hostilities against tasty animals, we gravitated to the lakefront. That is where all lakefront parties end up.
When you cluster this many gamers together, sooner or later, a game of any sort will ensue. You can even coerce a bunch of tattooed hooligans to play Bocce. For the uninformed, this Italian game is a hybrid of bowling, marbles, and King of the Hill.
Aside from a wayward digital camera that ended up in a shock of bushes that ensnared a drunken Gunslinger like a venus fly trap, our only other casualty over the course of the entire weekend was a Bocce ball that was claimed by the waters of Lake Michigan. That’s why I say ‘Hey man, nice shot’.
The next day was host to the LAN Party. All promises kept. Zero Hour found us unloading two cars [parked miraculously like those of Rock Stars] in front of Fizz Bar and Grill. Did I mention the urban evacuation? Our Mission: to transform this private party space into a coliseum of digital mayhem.
You have to make a total mess before a LAN resembles anything close to a Party. Bins of networking cable were upended and taped down. Projection screens were steadied on tripods. And the Xboxes. Don’t forget those. They had been lovingly transported across five different states.
I’d like to tell you that we threw it all together without breaking a sweat. I’d like to tell you that. The truth is, any LAN architecture is not without that moment of panic. The projectors won’t work! The power is gonna blow! We all forgot to bring a game disc? All of these terrors were contemplated and difused. Depicted above, Action Thaxten has a “Get that camera out of my face until I figure this out!” moment.
After a few hours spent agonizing over connections [both physical and wireless], it was “Game ON!” The room darkened to reveal a panorama of simulated violence. Barkeeps from downstairs came up to see what was causing all that racket. One of them, having stared at the carnage for a few moments, threw up her hands in a dismissive gesture and cackled: “It’s a lovely day to be outside, boys…” Been there. Done that. See above.
Now, it was time to Slay and Capture and Control. Get your tag loaded up. Pick your favorite corner of the screen. Exchange that knowing glance with the person seated next to you.
Team chat was gone. Body memory might send that finger in search of the comm button, but it is wasted energy. The dialogue goes airborn at a LAN Party. You wanna talk some trash? Speak up, Junior. After all, we are all friends here. Ain’t we? With liquor flowing the way it was, we could only hope so…
Did we play our very best game on a projector? Of course not. No one ever does – not when you are used to scoring a headshot on a moving target that is only two razor-sharp pixels wide. There is, however, no substitution for an adoring crowd. When you hear a room full of blood-thirsty gamers start shouting when you pull that flag, you don’t worry so much about image quality perfection. You are too distracted by the blood pounding in your ears. Or was that the stereo speakers?
Away from the projection arena, a sampling of other titles were demonstrated on smaller cocktail stations. Depicted above, a self-assured Overlord teaches a Geometry Class, prior to winning an arcade tournament that was held during the open bar.
Did we mention class? How about old school? As part of a ‘Tied the Leader’ tradition, no LAN Party is complete without a shot down memory lane at some ducks. No Gunslinger is satisfied, afterall, with a shooting gallery in the Saloon. Speak your lesson and say it true…
There are two crucial components to forming a good LAN Party. There is the LAN, and there is the Party. At least, we have always felt that way about such things. It is always amusing how each side of the equation always seems to have people who get stuck there.
There are a thousand stories from this event. Our memories of it are a little hazy, truth be told. With drinks on hand in endless supply; the longer one stays away from the game, the more one’s skill at said game suffers. Vision blurs. Reflexes dull. The trigger finger loses its snap.
Instead of trying to recall each seedy detail, we can invite you to look in on this LAN Party. In fact, we can show you a full thirty seconds of live action recorded on that day. Click below to select your brand of media poison for our video recap – shot by Pink Tawko, and edited by El Burritoh.
Or, you are invited to see all of the photos taken during that crazed weekend – dutifully edited and compiled by photo editor DrPachango into a full-spectrum photo essay in five acts.
It is my privelage to introduce to you the TTL Gunslingers. This was not our first LAN Party. It will not be our last. One local guest had attended simpler affairs held on Labor Day weekends in years past. This time around, he was kind enough to remark:
“Man, you guys get a little more dangerous every time I come near you.”