MASON CITY — Some video game enthusiasts are organizing a party on Saturday in Mason City that could be called BYOC — bring your own computer.
Plus your monitor, keyboard, mouse and power strip. And don’t forget your favorite video games.
Once all the computers are networked together in the 4-H Learning Center at the North Iowa Fairgrounds for the local area network (LAN) party, the fun can begin.
“We’re hoping it won’t be that hard to set up,” said Paul Norris, a senior at Mason City High School.
Networking and fixing any problems could take an hour or more.
“Playing the games is the easy part,” said MCHS senior Chad Brunsvold.
Although local gamers have held a few small, private network parties in the past — including one at Norris’ house attended by 10 people — this is the first public one organized by the online community Halo With Sprinkles. The goal is to have at least 30 people attend.
Norris and Brunsvold are the administrators of the Halo With Sprinkles Web site, which launched in November 2004.
It started as an Internet gathering place for fans of the Halo video games, but users now include people who play all kinds of games.
Since most of the 169 registered members are from the Mason City area, this made it the perfect avenue for planning local network parties.
LAN parties, which allow anywhere from two to thousands of people to play multiplayer video games against each other in the same location, became popular in the gaming community a decade ago.
Norris said he wanted to start hosting LAN parties “because no one else does in this area.”
MCHS senior Adam Grayson said until now people in North Iowa had to drive to Des Moines or Minneapolis to attend LAN parties.
Some details are still being worked out for Saturday’s party, such as how much to charge.
Norris said organizers are considering charging $5 to $10 per computer brought in by participants.
People can bring in laptop computers, but Norris said they usually don’t perform as well at game play.
Norris said some Xbox systems will be on hand in addition to the computers.
A list of games also is being compiled.
First-person shooter games or real-time strategy games work best for LAN parties.
Norris said the whole group can play against each other, or they can divide into teams.
Tournaments might be set up during the party, but there won’t be any prizes — just bragging rights.
Set-up tentatively will begin at 2 p.m. Norris doesn’t think the party will last later than midnight.
“People will get burned out after a while,” he said.
Chris Moe of Northwood, a freshman at Iowa State University, is helping to set up Saturday’s LAN party.
He said a friend of his is bringing a server so as many as 64 people can play the same game against each other at the same time.
Moe owns his own video game community Web site called Game Renegades (www.gamerenegades.com.) that has 545 registered users from all over the world.
He also is trying to set up a campus-wide LAN party at ISU.
“When you play against each other, you feel competitive,” he said.
People can play video games against each other over the Internet, but it’s not the same as being face-to-face, according to Moe.
“It’s amazing because you are trying to go against someone who is across from you,” he said, noting players can tell each other, “Oh, I got you!” or “I’ll get you next time.”
Reach Mary Pieper at 421-0578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To preregister for the LAN party, visit www.halowithsprinkles.com/lan.