ZLAN: The campout for gamers

Aisling Philippa visits the university during semester break and immerses herself in gaming culture.

ZLAN in action
ZLAN in action

Over the weekend we had a whopping 120 people cram themselves into the Brennan Room for a 40 hour LAN party. But, what is a LAN party, you ask?

A LAN party is a temporary gathering of people with computers or game consoles, between which they establish a local area network (LAN), primarily for the purpose of playing multiplayer video games”.

Nevermind that Gameboy you’ve got lying around from 1996, the Anime club guys game seriously – and invite others to do so competitively.

An entire section of the Brennan Room is partitioned off for participants, who pay anywhere from $40-$60 to gain entry for the weekend. Asides from the fees contributing towards prizes and catering, an individual space is also set-aside for the gamers, who can then set up their own computers (B.Y.O. power boards) to play with, or against, each other. For the unsuspecting newbie, there are a couple of online gaming titles that the group focuses on honing their skills beforehand, in the hope that they can best their peers during ZLAN:

  • League of Legends – a real-time strategy game that has role-playing elements, where players must build an army to defeat opposing teams on a battlefield
  • Hearthstone – a unique card game that requires strategy before a match, in composing a powerful deck, and during the game, when playing the wrong card at the wrong time could result in a devastating loss
  • Starcraft – a real-time science-fiction strategy game, where the player must control a combat team to complete missions
  • Counter-strike: Global Offensive – a multiplayer first-person shooter
  • Pokémon X/Y­­ – who could forget our favourite childhood friends? The sixth generation games were released last year, and contemporary Pokémon masters breed and train their team specifically to dominate in the competitive realm

But what was the best part of the weekend?

“It’s difficult to pin it down to just one thing, so many things happen over the event. I’m going to have to give it to the crazy ‘ZTournament’ this year; competitors had to, amongst a huge list, rock out to Guitar Hero 3, show off their Snake skills on a classic Nokia 3315, dance to Hit Me Baby One More Time in Just Dance 3, and it ended with a full game of Mario Party on the Nintendo 64 for the final four,” Anime club president Anthony ‘Azuris’ Hogan said.

Congratulations are in order for Tim Buchanan, the winner of the ZTournament, and to Samuel Woodger and Yvan Martin for ‘The Graphic Action Best PC Builds’!

When asked about the difficulties of staying awake over the event, Anthony had a few hints and tips for ZLAN-goers: “Every 20 minutes, stare at something over 20 feet away for 20 seconds to rest your eyes; at least once an hour, get up, have a stretch and a bit of a walk around; watch what you’re eating and drinking – there’s a great range of food at ZLAN, and keeping hydrated helps far more than you think! Know when you’re beat – going home, having a shower and a 3 hour power nap can make the rest of the event more enjoyable, and you more attentive.”

Looking to next year’s ZLAN, Anime Club consultant Jack ‘Jericho’ Coates said he would like to see the event expand to 200 participants, as well as “inviting some other clubs and societies to enter teams in the major tournaments, like the Quidditch Club, Goonion, CompSoc, against the Anime Club’s representative team. NUAC wouldn’t mind shooting up the Goonion . . . in a friendly match of Counter-Strike – not with actual guns”.

Ready to reminisce about the weekend at ZLAN? Pop your favourite memories in the comment section below.

Image courtesy of Matt Hudson.