By Braedon Martin
Staff writer

In the time before online gaming became the norm, multiplayer gaming was mostly done through LAN parties.

LAN, standing for Local Area Network, is a service where multiple PCs, or gaming stations, are connected through one internet connection, and LAN parties were events were held for friends and family to hang out, eat some junk food, and just have a good time.

Originally founded in the mid 2000s, Hutchinson Community College’s DragonLAN is the continuation, now successor, to those LAN parties, aiming to recreate that feeling of community that comes from hanging out with a bunch of people to eat snacks, drink soda, and play some good old-fashioned video games.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, membership in the club fell, but with Jesse Newberry as the advisor, and Aidan McGillivray as president, the club is seeking to rekindle the community for gaming on campus.

“Sometimes students want to compete in tournaments, and sometimes students don’t want to compete at all, they just hang out,” Newberry said. “A lot of people assume it’s very competitive, but it’s not really. It’s all about hanging out, having fun, maybe having some kind of competition but having lots of laughs throughout it.”

Likewise, McGillivray said, “It’s usually a pretty chill atmosphere.”

Staff meetings for DragonLAN are simple, with the admin team sharing all the duties.

“I organize stuff like what games to play, who brings what consoles, and the competitions we have at each event,” McGillivray said.

Technology is ever evolving, and that can affect everything, down to the level at which things are run for the events.

“It’s definitely evolved,” Newberry said.” We used to have servers set up and computers everywhere, and now people bring their laptops and connect to wifi. Everyone uses Steam now, so we don’t really need servers anymore. It used to be, everybody would show up, everybody would play the exact same game. But not everybody has the same games now, there’s so many more games to choose from it’s hard to get everyone on the same game.

Sometimes people don’t wanna leave their rooms, we don’t need to anymore, we can get on PlayStation Network or Xbox Live. It’s becoming a little harder to get students to come together.”

The atmosphere at DragonLAN is different from the competitive nature of the college’s Esports team.

“A lot of the games we play are more social, party style games, and the atmosphere we offer is different from online gaming, in my opinion.” McGillivray said.

The strongest draw DragonLAN has, amidst the rise of online gaming and the difficulties of social distancing in a pandemic, is its community. Newberry saidhe hopes to give students a place to hang out outside of class and play games together. A place to “Be geeky together, to show off their computer or brag about their stats on Xbox Live.”

“The big thing has been getting it up and running as great as it was before COVID. Since COVID hit it’s been a lot harder to get people out,” Newberry said.

The next DragonLAN event is on April 1, and runs from 3 p.m.-9 p.m. at Shears Technology Building’s Justice Theater. Entry is free for members, $5 for non-members, and $7 for optional pizza.

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