Are you still aware of how it all worked out in the past? Before, when you went to meet your friends to play games with them? Completely relaxed without online pressure and WiFi? Of course, it gives the impression of an old man's bitterness, but who doesn't want the simple times again?
A very personal report on the revival of the LAN party.

That was the case for me when I happened to be discussing the topic of “childhood / youth” with colleagues. The term LAN party was mentioned and four adult men paused for a moment. You could literally feel the gears working in your heads. But these gears worked quickly, all the questions were washed aside and the decision was made: Yes, we are going to revive our youth.

Everything has to be organized

But one thing has to be made clear immediately - the discussions and preparations are different. They even feel wrong. In my memories it was easy. A short agreement on which game is to be played - if at all, there was usually one game at the time that everyone was playing somehow - and that's it. In the meantime, it has degenerated into a discussion that lasted for hours to even shorten a few games. Shooter? I do not like it. Co-op or all against each other? A long game or several, more entertaining ones? Questions about questions that all want to be clarified. These questions take away the carelessness of days gone by. Nonetheless, you stay tuned, because the thought of becoming a teenager again makes your heart beat faster.

The fearful question of whether your own PC can even manage the selected game has been around for as long as there have really been games on the computer. In the past, you often heard sentences like "My PC is too old for that, the graphics card can no longer do that". This is still the case today, but there are other, smaller hurdles. For example, I only have one laptop. The hardware is very well equipped, but it has a small drawback for a LAN party; he has no CD drive. Everything is now digitized. So an external CD drive has to be procured. One game we decided on went so far that I bought it again on Steam, even though the physical game is only 4 meters away in the closet.

Kind of like a "LAN party": e-sports events like the ESL One Cologne 2018
are also dependent on good organization, only much larger. Photo: André Volkmann

The fact that this bothers me in a certain way is one of the "adult problems" that I have with this LAN party, but I also accepted. LAN parties used to have an aspect that should not be underestimated. This little form of school trip where you can see your friends outside of school. You pack your pajamas over to your computer and think you're heading out into the big world when you go to your friend who lives two streets away. With the four of us in our mid-twenties, you can already tell the difference. One of them will go home after playing. You prefer to sleep in your own habitat and have your peace of mind.

Anticipation is the greatest joy

When preparing for the LAN party, however, the anticipation came over you again, which has dragged on over the whole time. You go shopping, prepare your house, provide enough electricity and comfort for your guests. When the doorbell rings, I actually felt like the 13-year-old who had to ask his mother three times if his friends could come over.

Start-up difficulties almost inevitable

During the construction, you noticed the years of experience that you could gain in the meantime. The PCs were quickly set up, connected, one cable here, one cable there and within 15 minutes everything was ready to go. Since the adults had to sort everything out, it was clear which game to start with. The choice fell on the video game Civilization IV. While the game was being installed, we cheered each other again. The disillusionment followed immediately. The game did not start after installation. So even before the first game started, you had to deal with troubleshooting.

Cause of error: Civilization 4 is not compatible with Windows 10. With the add-on Beyond the Sword there is probably a patch that makes everything compatible again, we didn't have this add-on and we didn't want to buy it. So, after a tirade of hate on my part, you could check off the first game. But my fingers still itched. One of us brought a stick that he had had since he was at school. On this stick: Counter Strike 1.6. The stick went over the computer and now the time had come. You could play. Even if we split up into unfortunate teams, since the two shooter amateurs competed together against the, at least earlier, experienced Counter-Strike players. Nonetheless, after some initial trouble, it was a good, brisk start, after which we felt ready to start something long-term.

A classic and a must

Because there is an unwritten law. No LAN party without Age of Empires II! If you are a little informed, you will see how complex this game is and what fan base is behind it. Videos with tips and tricks fill entire YouTube channels. Any one of these "experts" would probably burn their eyes willingly if they had watched the game of the four of us amateurs. But, that's what it was all about, the magic was back. My 13-year-old self literally whispered in my ear "Villagers, villagers, villagers" and you could tell how everyone felt. A game that everyone has played before and culminated in a long, even match was a highlight. After that, you first needed a little breather.

Shooting makes you happy: Tactical first-person shooters are ideal titles for the next LAN party. The visitors to Gamescom saw it similarly, because the game stations were overcrowded. Photo: André Volkmann
Shooting makes fun: Tactical first-person shooters such as Call of Duty or the classic Counter Strike are ideal titles for the next LAN party. The visitors to Gamescom saw it similarly, because the game stations were overcrowded. Photo: André Volkmann

The evening had already progressed further in time. By now the anger about Civilization was gone. Another small round of Counter Strike to loosen up and then you noticed the adult fatigue that slowly sets in. In the past, you were fit longer, at least in your memory. Civilization was intended to be what some would call the time waster game. As is well known, that failed, Anno 1404 - Venice was our plan B. The time for the second smaller freak came now. After two hours of busy settling and building and doing, the error message came up that the game was about to be ended. You were already on the desktop. I just threw me out of the game for no reason, the other three didn't want to continue playing either: So the LAN party officially ended after about seven hours.

But was it worth it now? All the stress, all the excitement? In the end, one thing remains clear: Yes! As soon as you start the games, you talk to the others whether they can find the lobby and the loading screen appears and you feel like you've been transported back. Relocated to a time when you went over to your friend with your large desktop PCs and oversized monitors and had fun. Because even if you just want to keep appealing to the game industry that games that were developed for just such occasions can never be bad and despite the annoyance that there is now always an online compulsion while really good or entertaining games are abandoned modern hardware was not running, the feeling of sitting at the table with friends again was more entertaining than every minute of the game that I would have spent alone in front of the computer that evening.