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OutLANdish November 13, 2005

Posted by Matt Hurst in Uncategorized.

Just this prior weekend I endevored on an sociological expedition to the heart of cyberpunk culture. I attended the OmniByte LAN, a local meeting a computer addicts to computer games together. I would be amiss to not inform you that I am an active organizer of this LAN party, and sort of one of them myself.

What I found there was astonishing. Besides the seeming lack of organization towards the begging, middle, and end of the weekend long event, there was some cultural cohesion to be found. Though they came to play computer games, there were the usual trappings of parties in American culture. Food was sold (by myself) and tickets were bought for $5 a person. We played in a building meant for Iinformation Technology for a local bank, though it blended into a large industrial park, and would otherwise be relegated as a garage workhouse. The children strolled in and set up their information machines, the pinacle of human advancement in the last half century, in order to play stunningly lifelike computer games. Of those games, the primary purpose of course was to simulate the fantasy of killing.

These geeks and future controllers of societal structure found it fitting to share copyrighted games and other copyrighted material video and audio in nature. Though you might be thinking that this sharing of information to be Marxist in nature, you’d never get them to agknowledge this. Rather they accept and embody the avatar that the industries producing this material bounty call them – Pirates of Cyberspace. They take the produced material of the imperial industries shipped, and redistrubute it themselves as soon as they have seized the binary information manufactured. As if the empire of industry had colonized in their part of cyberspace, they begin a raid on the corporate settlement to rightly claim what they see as theirs. The only difference is that they don’t bury their treasure, but share the booty with their common pirates. Granted, their tracks are covered in the boundless high seas of cyberspace.

In the LAN they have marooned, and the result was conquest of 0s and 1s. They practice their boarding skills over networking cables that synchronize their machines. In the game they are totally enamored in the frenzy of battle. This simulated extension of human instinct allows them to use the tools ordinarily designed to strip their interconnection and humanity to mentally project their supressed violent nature into a game free of any consequences. This outlet of humanity through the tools that strip them of it is practiced in a cultural environment that accepts this behavior.

There are also laughs, but not at each other’s expense. This subculture understands first-hand the harm of social stratification (rather than economic), so the jokes are often at the imperial metaculture. Some culture of import, namely japanese anime, is adopted and shared openly within this community, but otherwise dometic culture is rejected to a certain extent. Other material trappings include a drink of choice called “Bawls”. This highly prized caffinated beverage, containing the caffine-resonating remians of guarana beans, is valued for its ability to help game players stay at top focus for game scrimages and tourneys well into the night. The featured events often start late, but continue until the early morning hours. Some players are so dedicated as to sleep on location, so as to be instantly availible for the next round of gaming.

Well then, I am still awake upon my return from the two day event, and could use a bit of sleep myself. I think I have expanded my horizons and increased my own skill at these games through the experience. I will report futher finding of this culture in the future, but I thought I would share (you’ll notice my embracing of this culture through my use of that word) some of my observations and priliminary findings with you.



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