Edmonton Hosts Canada’s Largest LAN Party

In the same way that a butterfly can’t miss being a caterpillar, I can’t miss my hometown of Edmonton. However, I am regretful that I won’t be able to make it back for Fragapalooza, August 7 – 11,  2008, Canada’s largest LAN party, now in it’s 11th year. A LAN party is an event where attendees bring their computers and monitors, network them together, and play computer games for a weekend, sleep highly optional. Gaming on a LAN is fast and free of lag, with the added benefit of being in the same room as the dude you just sniped from across the map. These events can range greatly in size, from a dozen guys in a garage, to Fragapalooza, with 800+ gamers in the Northland Sportex, a tradeshow space/curling rink. (The Sportex will be a great improvement over the Mayfield Hotel of years past, which always seemed to resent hundreds of gamers descending on their overrated hotel) In larger events, tournaments are usually held, but most of the action happens in pickup games that are going constantly. LAN parties also serve as an amazing gathering of geek culture, and a file sharing free-for-all as people generously open their directories to the gigabit network. The environment is nearly always Windows-homogenous, my LAN chums would surely berate me if I brought my MacBook Pro.

Vancouver has two sizeable, back to back LAN parties coming up soon: Digital Storm LAN (~200 gamers) runs August 1 – 3, 2008, at the Croatian Cultural Centre in East Van, and VanLan (~500 gamers) runs August 4 – 6 in the UBC War Memorial Gym. 

Later in the summer, August 30 – September 1, 2008, Montreal will host the World Cyber Games Canadian Championships at La Ronde/Six Flags. Dubbing itself as an Olympics of gaming, the WCG has major sponsorship from the likes of Samsung and Microsoft, with multiple local rounds leading up to a world final and millions in total prize money. These events attract the top, most elite gamers, some of whom are playing professionally.

In the six years since attending my first Fragapalooza, I’ve seen these events gradually become better sponsored, and the tournaments becoming more competitive. Fragapalooza has $65,000 in prizes of hardware and accessories, not bad for a volunteer-run event. While PC gaming is frequently cited as becoming less popular as game consoles become mini-PCs in themselves, these events show a dedicated following of PC gamers. The sponsors realize the value of this enthusiast market that’s willing to spend thousands building their own super gaming machines. PC gamers that have stuck it out this long know, as I know, that first-person-shooter gaming was meant for a mouse and keyboard, not two nubby sticks.