Those even remotely interested in video games should know by now the term LAN. While most multiplayer gaming is done these days through the wireless networks of the interconnected super highway, it was once achieved via physical gatherings of players and their long Ethernet cabling and hub switches. The Insomnia gaming festivals here in England have become famous for keeping this tradition alive and and taking it to an ever greater extreme with each event.
Taking place every 4 months and hosted by the loveable Multiplay group, The “Insomnia” festival (or i-Series for the most of us) crams over 2000 avid sociable gamers regardless of platform into the enormous halls of the Telford international exhibition centre in the heart of England. As I write this the cost of the BYOC (Bring your own Computer) ticket has dipped to just £66.70 (roughly). This includes access to the camp site around the hosting centre meaning that for just the cost of travel and food on top, you’re looking at a pretty fine, cheap holiday with more packed in than your average trip to the Spanish islands.
Coming back from my first encounter with the festival (i45) as a spectator, my heart was set on the community. Nowhere will you find thousands of like-minded, friendly and hug-obsessed strangers in your life. Honestly, if you’re ever feeling down and depressed, hold out from the temptation of slamming into the floor from your office building until one of these events; Trust me, These guys have the ability to save lives in the form of a nice warm hold. As I’m officially part of LFG (LAN Friends Group) I can confirm that we give the best hugs. If you’re coming along to any of the events, throw me a message and we’ll hunt you down!
From experience of i46 just gone, I urge everyone to talk to everyone. I know it’s a gaming festival for you to play with others basking in the light of your monitor; but please, never think that’s all it is. Ever.
So much joy can be had by embracing the term “insomnia”. It isn’t news to anyone that gamers have a tendency to sleep during the day and game into the early hours of the morning. That’s where the energy of the festival comes from. Like vampires, they come out at night to play… Werewolves. Ironically. It isn’t a video game, but a large scale group of player roles, strategy, discussion and double edged swords. It’s a boring way to describe its premise but it’s many times more hilarious than a TF2 workshop video – and that’s saying something.
With all the gaming in the halls, the tournaments atop the main stage, bar runs, pub quiz, rock band, exhibits, stalls, competitions and the cosplay competition, it’s impossible to get bored and easily understandable why exactly the denizens of the halls never rest. You’ll miss something somewhere and regret it later.
Better yet, you can start something pretty easily yourself. With a mall close by and a bowling/ice rink right outside the LAN centre, we managed to blow a lot of time until the early hours by not gaming. Maybe we’re doing it wrong, maybe we’re a disgrace to our own kind, but either way we ended up firing shots at our friends and aiming for the heads in a spontaneous 12 man NERF war above the thousands of gamers of the main halls.
It feels strange to recommend an Insomnia event for all the wrong reasons. But after witnessing two of the sleepless light shows and gaming for roughly 2 of the 100+ hours I was there it leaves me with no reason to urge anyone to skip out on the opportunity to attend. You meet some incredible people, laugh for roughly 70 hours; and – if everyone were to set their computers to a strobe light video – witness the biggest eye-defilement imaginable before they’re burned clean out of your skull by shirtless rock band enthusiasts. Unless you’re weak and scared to experience the “joy” of LAN death, you really have to attend the Insomnia event before your hobby inevitably kills you; or die there, it would be the greatest way to go!
Special thanks to Ashley Pinner for the shot of LFGG during the pub quiz!