By Justin Agrell
Once I left Florida I was happy to say goodbye. Only one thing remained in the back of my mind that I would miss: the LAN party. A Local Area Network party is a gathering of individuals who enjoy playing games together using their personal computers. They actually go to the trouble of building an entire network, complete with cabling and routers, just to play their games. I understand that deconstructing your computer and dragging it to who-knows-where is always going to be a chore, but it never outweighs the amount of fun a bunch of gamer-geeks have for 12 hours playing video games together. After settling in to Arizona and not finding a satisfactory replacement to fill that nerdy void in my heart, it was time; Prescott was finally getting a permanent LAN party of its own.
It was 2014, the year that represented the most work I’d ever faced. The computer repair shop that my wife and I owned was growing considerably and, looking back, months without a day off were not uncommon. I was pushed to create the LAN party in Prescott by a simple desperation for guaranteed time to enjoy my hobby of PC gaming — even if it was only once a month. After a few phone calls, I was able to find respite at the Game On tabletop store off of Willow Lake road (which subsequently moved to the mall). They were kind enough to give us PC gamers a home, once a month, free of charge.
It was a slow start. Our events averaged around three attendees for the first couple of years. We have seen entire groups of friends come and go, and it is common to have college students graduate and move away. Now, in 2018, the Prescott PC Gamers Group is averaging a healthy 10 attendees a month — a major accomplishment for a LAN party not in a major city. By way of comparison, the annual Desert Bash events in Phoenix easily seat over a hundred gamers. We seem to average two or three new dedicated members every year.
PPCGG is, all-around, different from many LANs that I’ve attended. We pride ourselves on having a community pot-luck and a flexibility toward what games we play. We love our home-cooked meals and hanging out with friends. To keep things interesting, we also theme most of our events. October is our spooky event where we stick to scary games and eat Halloween treats. We’ve had apple cider LANs, Gumbo LANs, and even a LAN called the Adult Responsibility LAN where we brought proper health food and dressed in work attire. We have the full spectrum of gamers from ranked to casual. We entertain members from 12 (with supervision) to over 60, male and female alike. We enjoy new technology such as Virtual Reality, and we appreciate computer history with our Commodore 64 that occasionally makes an appearance.
Our current location is right next to the Step One Cafe in Prescott Valley. We meet on the first Saturday of every month and play from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. We bring all our own gaming computers and gear. On average we gather for a big meal around 1 or 2 p.m. to sit and enjoy the feast fashioned for the event. For the rest of the day, it’s a fend-for-yourself ordeal. The games we play are always changing and we try our best to keep our homepage (PPCGG.Com) up-to-date with a list of titles we anticipate to be there. We have a Facebook page, a forum, and a Discord channel.
While the current size of the event is quite easy to work with, I forsee the Prescott PC Gamers Group growing in the future. With increased interest in VR we are seeing members attending simply to meet others who share interest in their hobby. There is also a noticeable trend in e-sports. Games like “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege” and “Rocket League” have taken off and, with a few more members, local tournaments will be a real possibility. Once competition and prizes enter into a LAN, you not only get entire teams joining the event to compete but you also get attendees who simply want to casually bide their time until it’s time to spectate the pros and enjoy the show. Our current room should be able to handle up to 60 gamers. If you know of anyone, or ifyou yourself are into PC gaming, make sure to check us out.
[Editor’s note: This is Justin Agrell’s final Two-Bit Column for 5enses. Thank you, Justin, for your advice, warmth, and professionalism throughout our partnership. Also of note, in lieu of payment throughout his column’s run, Justin yielded ad space to Stepping Stones — a most commendable gesture.]
Justin Agrell has been a certified IT technician since 2005. He loves Linux, adventure motorcycling, and computer gaming. To get in touch, just email him at Justin@U4E.US.