Before high-speed internet connections and online servers, playing a multiplayer PC game meant hauling your bulky monitors and towers to a friend’s place, convention centre or church basement for a LAN (local area network) party. These sweaty, junk-food-enriched glory days represented the origins of real community spirit in computer gaming’s early days. It’s strange to consider that, as gaming has moved away from physicality towards online spaces, images of gawky teens huddled around computers running Quake or Starcraft have since become subjects of genuine nostalgia.
Many LAN party attendees were early adopters of new tech, so digital cameras abounded at these events. The photos produced by these devices were often low-resolution, blurry and badly lit. In their imperfections and limitations, they represent the messy, ad-hoc approach to computing typical of the LAN party – network cables snaking across recreation centre floors, a monitor perched on a kitchen counter, burned CD copies of games labelled in marker pen.
LAN Party will be published by specialist gaming-history imprint Read-Only Memory and includes exclusive contributions from the likes of Rupert Lomas (Gamer Network, Eurogamer), Kat Bailey (IGN) and more.