If you are old enough to remember LAN parties in their heyday, you will remember how complex (and amazing) they were. If you are not, you’ve probably heard old people speak reverently about these in-person gatherings of hundreds of PCs, in hushed tones, making them seem almost mythical.
While people of course still hold them—sometimes in huge numbers!—the advent of online multiplayer has pretty much killed off the LAN party as a cultural touchstone. And now that we’re 20 years past their prime, now is as good a time as any to take a good, historical look at what they were, how they worked, and what they actually meant to everyone involved.
That’s what LAN Party, by Merritt K, is doing. Published by the always-excellent Read Only Memory Books, it’s going to examine the glory days of the scene, around the turn of the millennium, and will feature a ton of photos documenting those dorky, heady times. Here’s the pitch:
LAN gatherings of the late 1990s and early 2000s evolved from the necessity for multiplayer gamers to come together at physical meet-ups, lugging their bulky computers or game consoles along with them.
In addition to documenting the nostalgic era of LAN parties, the photographs in this book are unique artefacts of the peculiar cultural and technological moment, when gaming was tipping over from niche hobby to mainstream obsession. They reveal not just the home décor and personal fashion styles at the turn of the millennium but a different world, one that existed before the internet took shape and we started carrying it around with us in our pockets.
Many of the photographs included in LAN Party were taken using early digital cameras at limited resolution. To make these images look their best in print, we have employed 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.