The Sixth Rule of LAN Party is Wear Deodorant

The Sixth Rule of LAN Party is Wear Deodorant

I work for a technology company, which means that I’m surrounded by genius software developers who actually wear “There is no place like″ shirts. I’m not a developer, so I’m usually on the outside of the cool kids club when it comes to discussing Drupal, CSS, modules and so forth.

But the computer discussion reached a new technical high last Friday when my colleague Brian (at left) told us that he’d be spending the weekend at a LAN party. A LAN party is a bunch of gaming addicts in one room with their computers and accessories playing team computer games non-stop for long periods of time. No naps, lots of soda.

Brian graciously agreed to share the basic tenets of the LAN party community:

1.  Invite only. By accepting you are committing to the full time period of the LAN
2.  This is not a time for tech support. Before arriving:

  • Get the latest security patches;
  • Update your video card driver;
  • Have any network shares ready to go;
  • Test all games on the game list PRIOR to showing up to the LAN; and
  • We don’t have time to explain how computers work.

3.  Provide your own equipment, including:

  • Computer & Monitor
  • Mouse Pad
  • Headphones are required (nobody wants to listen to your “sweet 7.1 surround sound system”)
  • Computer chair
  • 12 ft + Cat 5e network cable
  • At least 100 GB free on your hard drive
  • Never leave your computer unlocked. An unlocked computer means that you’ll return to your machine to find all of your profiles updated to read “I heart kittens!”

4.  No VPN or Hamachi.  The one exception to this rule is if the host needs to use it to bring a remote attendant into the network. All torrent clients must be turned off at all times.
5.  Rage quitters will not be invited back.
6.  Shower before the LAN and wear deodorant. Consider reapplying the deodorant halfway through.

He also reports that the following food items were consumed by the 9 in-person players during the 21 hours they played last weekend: 48 cans of soda (5.3 cans of soda per person); 1 large bag of pretzels; 1/2 bag of jalapeño chips; case of cookies; 1 container of hummus with carrots and red peppers; 10 burritos; 4 blizzards; 7 bacon cheeseburgers and 1 chicken burger.

These guys came from all over the region to drink soda and stay up all night playing video games. This begs the question: How can we make all of our learning environments as compelling, engaging and fun as the strategy games that Brian and his friends played all weekend?

Game designer and general genius Jane McGonigal has identified some of the things that make games so engaging:

  • Immediate feedback. Gamers are given tasks they are able to accomplish and they are immediately rewarded for success.
  • Feeling of greater purpose. Gamers feel inspired to collaborate and cooperate to accomplish an “epic win”.
  • Deep focus. Inspired by immediate possibility of success, gamers will decide to spend hours getting good at games.

McGonigal wants us to use game environments to solve real world problems collaboratively in virtual environments. At OpenSesame, we’re thinking about applying game dynamics to learning.

What about a virtual world that enables you to get to know your colleagues around the world as you work together to solve a problem? What about a game scenario that makes you feel rewarded and connected to a greater mission every time you learn a new skill? What about letting you “level up” every time you solve a complicated problem or collaborate with one of your coworkers?

Maybe some day you’ll get together to have a LAN party with your workmates. Make sure to bring lots of soda.