Gimme the goods.

nVidia.

ATI.

Microsoft.

Blizzard.

Outrage.

Interplay.

Activision.

Id.

3DfX.

Heat.Net

The list goes on and on.

I would spend about 8 hours writing e-mails. I would word them very carefully. Each syllable was important. The place? The hours? The food to be enjoyed? The number of people? What each played? Our proximity to the nearest Taco Bell? Down to the finest letter I would define my event. And then I would ask, ever so politely, for some sort of corporate sponsorship.

Sometimes it didn’t work.

Sometimes it did. I didn’t have to buy shirts for almost 6 years because of it.

Sometimes it was a poster, others it was hardware, software, and vouchers for games.

Between the ages of 15 and 19 were the glory years for the LAN party.

I threw quite a few of them. Sometimes, it was 4 people, sometimes it was 32. It really depended on what was taking place. Where I lived. Where I worked. And what kind of budget I was working with.

The extent of this post is memories that I have in regards to those potent years as a teenager where I considered myself to be the ringmaster of my gaming life. However, before I get too far in to the meat and potatoes of the stories, I figure I’ll explain why I’m writing on this topic today.

Being in the Coast Guard, I spend time underway away from home, family, friends, and life in general. Being out here, I work with people, some of whom game. Most of us have stories of LAN parties or playing games at home. Well, we were playing Counter-Strike recently and after a few hours, and a half dozen people playing, we were reveling in how we haven’t had this much fun since se were teenagers. It was a small revival that reeked of nostalgia. We told stories of troubleshooting, gaming, being amped up on caffeine, being hopped up on tacos, and the heartbreak of  power outages and broken CD’s. Because of the nostalgia that I experienced, it caused me to reflect on what we were doing, what I had done, and some of the experiences that I had that forged who I am today as a gamer. Sure, I played World of Warcraft for 7 and a half years, but really, that wasn’t gaming. That was an addictive lifestyle that required way to many number crunches, DPS races, and socialization in a world that attempted to replace the one I live in. I enjoyed it, but it really can’t hold a candle to what I used to play and do.

So, let me share some stories of my gaming life and maybe you can smile, smirk, laugh, facepalm, or even just stare blankly asking what the hell I was thinking. Because there are a few of those.

Here we go.

I opened with talking about sponsors. Well, part of the LAN party experience is having the ability to say you are sponsored by someone. The ability to hand out prizes, gifts, and general garb  is a big selling point to your event. And thankfully, I had more than one opportunity to do that. One time, I petitioned Heat.Net to sponsor us, and they did. They sent me 25 t-shirts. That party was AWESOME! There were 12 of us in attendance, we each got a shirt, and I was able to hand a few out to friends, family, and have 4 left over for myself. That was what opened the sponsorship grab bag for me. I wound up writing 3DfX after a few weeks and asked for the same thing. Just a simple sponsorship for our hometown event, nothing huge. They complied. We received two joysticks, a soundcard, a mouse, three games, a stack of posters, t-shirts, hats, and stickers. A mother-lode as far as I was concerned. By far, that was the best haul we had ever had and it still stands as being the epitome of such. We never got more than that. But honestly, it’s okay. It gave us the idea of what sponsors could do for us. I still have one of the shirts. My brother still has the sound card. And I still have the pictures from the event. It was amazing. Held in a dusty basement of my best friend at the time Rocky Howell. Rocky, if you are reading this, hit me up, we can share some stories some time.

Getting free garb was always awesome.

While thinking about this, it leads me to remember my very first party. The party wasn’t the important part though. It was what took place about 4 days prior to the party. Thinking back on this 14 years later, I can’t help by hang my head, cover my face with my palm, and swear at the floor because I was a fool.

Let me paint the scene, my younger brother and I were sitting at home.  For some unholy reason, my saint of a mother opted to give us both permission to have our respective girlfriends over to the house that night. A movie you say? With a girl you say? Hells yeah… I’m in!

Well, the girls showed up, the popcorn was popped, and the Lion King was put in to the VCR. (For those who don’t know because you are a young whipper-snapper, a VCR played TAPES. It was what we used before DVD’s.) Suddenly, my saint of a mother whips out the most disconcerting line I can remember her ever saying. (At the time, it wasn’t a big deal, right now?.?.? I realize the significance of it). What did she say? She put on her coat, grabbed my dads hand and said “We’re going out for a while, be good, and have fun”. She turned out the lights and walked out the door.  With a creaking swing and a click, suddenly it was two boys, two girls, two bowls of popped corn, and a movie… In the DARK!…….UNDER BLANKETS!

WHAT THE HELL!!

Why did she do this?
Now, I was a bit of an innocent buffoon at the time, and I tried to sell the girls on the idea of the LAN party. I even set up a few computers so they could see what I was talking about.  At the time, I couldn’t figure out why, but my brother and his girlfriend were pissed.

Looking back, I think I finally figured out why.

Yeah… not my most shining moment right there.

/sigh

I really didn’t think that one through at the time.

I’ll give you a moment to sit back and let that story set in.

Alright… we good?

Good.

I figure this post has gone on for a while, so you get one more. Then I’ll wrap it up. So, I’ll try to make it a good one.

Leading up to a party that I helped throw at my friend Greg’s house, we were getting ready to make Root Beer. I know, I can hear you saying it already… “Home made root beer? That sounds DELICIOUS!”. Well, reader, it is. It is AMAZINGLY delicious. And we were going to make 20 gallons of the stuff. Sugar, water, flavor, and dry ice. Toss it in to the keg, put the bung in to the hole, and wait 24 hours. Tap it, and pour. DELICIOUS!

Well, the story takes an interesting twist. But it requires some back story. You see, Greg’s parents didn’t really keep the cleanest kitchen. It was clean, just really cluttered with lots of papers, dishes, tupperware, and carpet (carpet was on the floor, weird, I know. My grandma had that too. Hmmm… anyways.) . Now, there was a drop ceiling in this house. So it looked kinda like an office. Well, we had mixed in all the ingredients and we had just started to drop in the dry ice. A little bubbling was expected. After two pounds went in to the keg (A guess really, we didn’t know how much was actually needed), we put the bung in to the hole, grabbed a mallet and started beating it in. Done. Only 24 hours till the party and fresh home made root beer. No sooner than we had turned away from the keg, there was a loud BANG. The bung had popped out of the keg. There was a geyser of delicious root bear spewing from the keg. Straight up in to the air. Now, I know what you are thinking… A root beer geyser? That sounds AMAZING! And let me tell you, it was. But, there was enough force that it had blown out about 6 ceiling tiles, and there was root beer raining down EVERYWHERE in the kitchen.

I looked at Greg and I asked, “Greg, when does your mom get home?” We both eyed the clock. 20 minutes.

So, as any good child would do, we decided to cover it up!

We spend the next 19 minutes cleaning the kitchen. Dishes were in the dishwasher, papers were filed, stacked, or tossed. Windows washed. Ceiling tiles wiped down. Towels all over the carpet to soak up the mess. It was wild. We finished and had thrown the last of the towels in to the washer when the door opened. His mom walked in and saw the clean kitchen. Thinking we were sly, we said “Tuh-duh, we cleaned your kitchen”. She humored us for a moment and said thank you. But then stopped… looked around, and then looked at us both square in the eys and said “The keg exploded… didn’t it?”.

CRAP! How did she figure it out?

We said it did. She laughed, and then walked away. She was laughing the rest of the night at us. Not because it was funny, but because we were apparently retards. I don’t know really.

But, we salvaged about 5 gallons of delicious root beer. And we savored it the next night. It was mightily good.

Friends, readers, whomever…. I love gaming. I love the LAN parties. And I love the memories that are associated with those parts of my youth. I wouldn’t go back to live it again, because I’m happy as I am, but those were some mighty good days. I’m glad I got to live them.

Oh, and Adam and Jennifer… sorry about that.

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