Wade Manns – The Corsair
Sometimes if you’re a gamer, a friendly multiplayer session of gunplay and death are all you need to de-stress after a long day. Such opportunities are commonplace at a LAN (local area network) party such as those hosted by the Panhandle Gamers.
A community gaming organization founded in late 2006, the Panhandle Gamers has organized 14 LAN parties over the past 3.5 years. A local area network is a gathering of like-minded individuals who connect their computers or game consoles for gaming or exchanging information.
Panhandle Gamers, currently led by local gaming enthusiast Grant Corbin, began as a small group but now holds events at the Pensacola Beach Hilton which have attracted as many as 200 people. A LAN party on April 3 had a turnout of about 80.
Corbin’s first experience with LAN parties came at about age 13 when he was in middle school.
“I found out what it was on the Internet after a friend told me that there was one upcoming in the Pensacola area,” he said. “The guy who ran the LAN parties at the time was rumored to move away. I discussed this with him and inherited the events.”
Shortly thereafter Panhandle Gamers was born, its Web site up in a week and its first event planned, Corbin said.
Games played at LAN parties may include first-person shooters such as Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike or Modern Warfare 2, but may also extend into real-time strategy games or even single-player, or massively multiplayer, online games.
The competition at these events can become fierce, especially during tournaments. In many cases, more than bragging rights are at stake. Sponsors offer prizes that can include specialized gaming keyboards or controllers, T-shirts, mouse pads and bumper stickers. Also, there is always a healthy selection of posters for anyone to grab after the event. Mix all that up with a little karaoke, mostly performed by Corbin, who really knows how to ham it up on stage, and you’ve got yourself quite a diversified event.