My Saturday started off like most Saturdays; waking up drinking a cup of coffee, taking my dogs outside, and reading some Reddit. However, this Saturday was slightly different. Instead of laboring away on chores that I couldn’t complete during the week, my computer awaited me at a hotel conference hall down-town. There I would be playing games I love for extended periods of time and with people that shared a similar passion. Over 160 in attendance, the Atlanta Intel LANFest catered to local, and some not so local Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, and League of Legends teams competing for prizes and bragging rights. While I do not play any of the above mentioned titles competitively, it was a great opportunity to meet new people and see how the communities interact with each other. While there, I got a chance to talk with the public relations director for Hi-Rez Studios, the developer in charge of Tribes:Ascend, and upcoming MOBA title, Smite. It’s excellent to see companies interacting with the community and introducing new titles to an audience that might not be as keen on trying out something fresh and new. Beta-keys for Smite were also on tap for the give-aways at this event, although I was not one of the lucky ones.
To the left of me were a group of 5 CS players that travelled from all over the eastern US seaboard, from New Jersey to Florida. Some of them drove, and some shipped their equipment down and flew in. All around the room were players from all different backgrounds, some very young, and some much older. Each individual had different experience levels and something to share. While I didn’t interact with each and every one of them I can tell that while I was there everyone had a passion for whatever game they played. Why else would you stuff yourself inside an unfamiliar place full of equipment and people you arent familiar with?! Throughout the day, the clamouring of outbursts from match victories and the occasional word of team drama spread throughout the room. While I did not play these games hardcore, a few people that stopped by to check out what I was playing, noticed I was mainly a Battlefield player, and came back to me later to ask me to sub in for their player that decided to walk away from them. Their MIA player eventually came back, but I was honored for them to ask me to sub in, some guys opted to play some BF3 later in the evening as well after their tournament matches were over. The majority of gamers I encountered were very inviting and overall took an interest in what others were doing. See! Not all gamers are introverts! Being a fair amount older than some of the crowd there for CS, it was fantastic to see a newer generation of gamers that are still playing these games that we spent so many hours in when we were in college or high school or still playing now to this day.
From 10am till 2am the next day, my experience at LANFest was an excellent one despite walking into the event not knowing anyone at all, and not even playing the games that were on the schedule. Complimentary and unlimited amounts of Monster Energy kept everyone going, and albeit twitchy after the first couple cans. The event itself only cost $30 to attend for 3-days (through pre-registering), and although for some, that might be a lot, it included a reserved spot, LAN/Internet access provided by Comcast, Dinner on Saturday night, and all the energy drinks you can consume. Personally for me, it was absolutely worth spending my time there. I made a few new friends that I added through Steam, Battlefield squad mates, and experienced two gaming communities I wouldn’t other wise be exposed to. For those interested in checking out future events, you can check out Intel LANFest here. The organizers for this event also plan a winter LANFest, which I will be attending and hopefully forming up a team for CS or TF2, if Battlefield 3 isn’t on tap. For those on the fence about attending a LANFest or an event like it, I would highly recommend it. Throwing off my sleep schedule and developing a callous on my wrist was a small price to pay for the epic 15 hours spent with fellow gamers.