Before high-speed internet connections and online servers, playing a multiplayer PC game meant hauling your bulky monitors and towers to a friend’s place, convention centre or church basement for a LAN (local area network) party. These sweaty, junk-food-enriched glory days represented the origins of real community spirit in computer gaming’s early days.
Many LAN party attendees were early adopters of new tech, so digital cameras abounded at these events. The photos produced by these devices were often low-resolution, blurry and badly lit. In their imperfections and limitations, they represent the messy, ad-hoc approach to computing typical of the LAN party – network cables snaking across recreation centre floors, a monitor perched on a kitchen counter, burned CD copies of games labelled in marker pen.
In addition to documenting the nostalgic era of LAN parties, the photographs in this book are unique artefacts of a peculiar cultural and technological moment, when gaming was tipping over from niche hobby to mainstream obsession. The images have been improved by the use of AI-enhancement software – an emerging technology that allows the upscaling of low-resolution images with spectacular results – to make the first full-size photobook on this beloved subculture, one that existed before the internet took shape and we started carrying it around with us in our pockets.