Students pull all-nighter playing networked games

by Mike Enright

It’s 10:53 p.m. on Friday and almost 50 college-aged people are camped out in the student commons of the Electrical Engineering/Computer Science Building off Union Street Southeast, but they’re not here to study. No – they came to game.

In celebration of IT Week, the University chapter of the Association of Computer Machinery – with the help of the school’s administration – hosted a Local Area Network party for the second time this semester.

A LAN party usually qualifies as a get-together where people bring their own computers, hook them all together and play video games, though they aren’t often as large scale as this one.

According to former ACM vice president Esten Rye, whose term ended this month, organizers came up with the idea while talking with Institute of Technology faculty and administration about ways to try and build a better sense of community among students.

And the answer, naturally, was LAN parties, the computer science senior said.

“This is actually a pretty big cultural thing with computer scientists,” Rye said. “Everyone loves to play games, and this way it’s a social-type thing.”

It’s also a great way to relieve stress, he said.

What really makes LAN better than playing online, though, is “because you can actually yell at the people,” said computer science sophomore Andrew Tran.

These gamers were no exception.

Amid shouts of triumph and groans of despair, players almost constantly talk to one another, making for interesting, if not always understandable, conversations.

Sitting next to each other, Tran and math and physics senior Dan Ambrose talked to one another while playing a six-versus-six team map of the game “Warcraft III: Defense of the Ancients.”

“Oh, I’m getting attacked,” Ambrose said.

“Kill her, kill her,” Tran said. “Oh, it’s over.”

“Yeah it is,” Ambrose said, “But I’m alive. Cool.”

As the game concludes, the players create a new map, this one called “Card Shuffle.”

Century College sophomore Andrew Testin said while he enjoys a lot of different games, his favorite would probably be “Counter-Strike: Source.”

“It’s a fun LAN party game,” he said.

A friend of Rye’s, Testin said he took the night off from work to make it to the party. Though he grew up playing video games, he got into the LAN scene after building his own computer his junior year of high school.

“It’s fun getting together with friends,” he said. “It’s competitive.”

Not so much a gamer, Testin’s girlfriend, 20-year-old Lily Schacht, said she came because she enjoys observing the players in action.

“I like watching more than playing,” she said. “It’s like watching a movie that’s weird.”

Though she’s been to LAN parties before, Schacht said she was a bit surprised by the evening’s turnout.

“I thought it would be a bunch of nerds, (but) not this many in this big of an area,” she said.

Rye was quick to point out, however, that he doesn’t consider himself a nerd.

“Now, nerds wear pocket protectors,” he said. “We’re geeks.”

And proud of it, Rye said.

“You know, you’ve got geeks out there who’ve never attended a LAN party before, and once they do they’ve attained their next level of geek-dom,” he said.

Also not afraid to admit her geekness, math senior Samantha Scarlett said she has been playing games for about four years.

“Overall, I’m basically a tech-geek, and I love it,” she said.

Even better, though, she said, is the reactions she gets being a girl gamer.

“The look on people’s faces when they see a girl who plays games is hilarious,” she said. “Not only is it a girl coming in, but it’s a girl carrying a computer.”

One of the biggest misconceptions, Rye said, is that people think only guys play video games.

“There’s a stigma that all gamers are men, and they’re not,” he said. “In fact, some female gamers are much better than us men, as much as we hate to admit it.”