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AsylumLAN 28

Date: May 11, 2007
Author(s): Greg King

Now on their 28th party, AsylumLAN is currently the baby of Derek “Grymskull” Moore. With his organizational skills and his wife’s networking ability, the attendees of AsylumLAN 28 were greeted with a network ready to deal with the all that the weekend gamers could throw at it.



Introduction


There aren’t too many events that gamers enjoy more than a good LAN party. When posed with the question of skill, most people will exaggerate their abilities, prompting anyone around who knows them to submissively nod their head in agreement or even better, call bullshit. It’s these kinds of debates that LAN parties were made for.

What better venue is there than one that brings gamers together under one roof to duke it out for honor and glory. Without a latency issue, one can’t blame lag, so the LAN party is the perfect stage for the gaming elite. Then there is the everyday gamer like most of us who just flat out enjoy playing games. My personal favorites are real time strategy and first person shooters. These games just so happen to also be the most popular at such events which makes it convenient because most people are going to have similar games as you.

Each year we read about the big ones, most notably QuakeCON, but how often do any of you actually get to experience the real deal? Here in the Midwest (I live in Indiana), we have a handful of larger events but nothing quite like QuakeCON.

Last year we were in attendance at Stompfest, a LAN party held roughly once a year that usually draws a few hundred gamers to the north side of Indianapolis. Between each event there are smaller events on various college campuses and at people’s homes and for the most part, these tide us over for the big one each summer.

One event that has enjoyed not only longevity, but also a devout following is AsylumLAN. Held once every quarter in Evansville, Indiana, AsylumLAN is one of the largest LAN party in the Midwest. For those of you that don’t know, Evansville is located in the south western corner of the state and is roughly 3 hours from Indianapolis.

Another area that AsylumLAN draws a great deal of gamers from is Louisville, Kentucky. With drive time from Louisville under 2 hours, it makes for a quick road trip in the name of gaming. Right there, you have two large cities in driving distance and this has undoubtedly helped the event grow in popularity.

Now on their 28th party, AsylumLAN is currently managed by the team of Derek “Grymskull” Moore and his wife Kimberly “Devlar” Hall-Moore. With Derek’s organizational skills, Kim’s networking ability and a small crew of hard working staff members the attendees of AsylumLAN 28 were greeted with a network ready to deal with the all that the weekend gamers could throw at it. AsylumLAN was the brain child of Rick “Insane” Trevino, and started in his home over five years ago. As this was my first AsylumLAN, I wasn’t sure what to expect but once there, all my worries were put to rest. Between Derek, his wife Kimberly and the AsylumLAN staff, the party kicked with a bang and Techgage was there to enjoy it all.

My day started a bit earlier than I would have liked. Getting up at 5:30 am to prepare for the three hour trip I quickly realized that there wasn’t enough coffee in the state to get me into the “there isn’t enough coffee in the world right now to get me pumped for this drive” mood. As I packed my gear into the car, I checked off everything on my list and once I was ready, I hit the road.

Now most of you reading this might not realize how terribly boring the drive from Indianapolis to Evansville is. The first hour is heading west, straight down I-70. I know this route well because it’s the way to Terre Haute, Indiana, home of Indiana State University. Go Sycamores! From there it’s a two hour drive south to Evansville.



To The Party, Setting Up

There is something to be said for a three hour drive with one freaking turn but what can you do? I suppose that’s why there’s cruise control. As the sun came up, I was somewhere between Indy and Terre Haute and once again, the weather absolutely sucked. It seems that almost every time I head out to Terre Haute, the weather completely sucks. Such was the case when we visited All American Computers last year.

Skipping ahead a few hours, I finally arrived at the 4H fairgrounds and drove past a gun show to the activity center, home of AsylumLAN 28. Yeah, I said gun show. Nothing says welcome to Indiana like a gun show.

Once inside, it seemed that I had arrived just in time to setup, meet everyone and start to walk around the facility.

One thing that most people don’t take into consideration is the immense amount of effort and preparation that goes into a LAN event. There are countless hours on the phone talking with sponsors. Hundreds of emails are sent out and as the time nears, many more man hours are put into the physical setting up of the networks and power grids.

There are servers that need to be configured and an accurate registration process needs to be in place to keep track of who has paid, who hasn’t and where exactly people are to sit during the entire event. All of these thoughts went through my head as I drove down to Evansville and the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated all that the organizers and helpers put into each and every LAN party.

As I walk into the front doors of the Activities Center, to my right is the registration table. It is here that each and every attendee much check-in and get their name tag.

Behind the administration table, the staff is starting to setup the servers that will host the tournaments and keep the entire process going as smoothly as possible.

Positioned around the edges of the tables are the power stations. These are where every monitor, PC, switch and console will connect into.

As the doors open up to the attendees, and the gamers start to trickle in, Derek informs me that this will not be as large as the last LAN parties but more than a hundred people are registered and even more are expected to show up at the last minute. The reason for this being that because of a scheduling error on either the AsylumLAN crew or the fairgrounds staff, the event is being held the same weekend as the Kentucky Derby and in these parts of the country, virtually everything is put on hold for this event.

As I setup my machine, I noticed the various amounts of different hardware being setup. Everything from stock Dell machines to the exotically cooled PCs were being setup at the same time. This to me is the beauty of LAN parties. Regardless of the power of the PC, people are just here to play games and forget about life for the weekend. Just walking around, I talked with the people setting up and took the time to take a few pictures.

In the center of everything, Derek was setting up a few PCs. One was to run a projector while the other was to show off Ideazon’s latest products. Simply sit down, sign a sheet and play for a while on the latest and greatest that Ideazon has to offer. Throughout the event, Derek could be found walking around, talking to attendees and working on anything that required his attention.



Swag, Gaming!

As people setup, I walked over to the swag table. LAN parties are fun, but the prizes are what bring the majority of the gamers back each year. Chiming in this year was a deep list of companies who gave to the cause, of these companies, Cooler Master, Gigabyte, Icemat, Ideazon, Steel Series, Antec, Ageia, FSP, Tagan and CoolIT all ponied up the swag and prizes. Sponsors were displayed well with posters in plain sight.

It should be noted that Ageia, Logitech and CoolIT all supplied prizes through Techgage and allowed us to provide give them away as we saw fit. These companies all deserve a visit or two to their website as they don’t –have- to give anything out but they did.

To thank the three companies that provided us with gear, I raided the Techgage vault and decided to give them a bit of free advertising by using a few of the products that we have reviewed of theirs in the past. With my Ageia card installed, and the CoolIT Freezone humming away, I began to show off Cell Factor for anyone who was interested.

As stated earlier, many different companies helped out by donating prizes for the attendees. These items are incredibly important in spreading the word and getting new gamers to attend the next events. So much was donated that it had to be held on two separate tables.

Not wanting to exclude the console players, there was a Wii and Gamecube setup for the younger attendees. Aside from that, what LAN party would be complete without DDR and Guitar Hero? I was glad to see this as Guitar Hero on any console is amazing but on the 360, it’s deadly.

As the evening progressed, the first tournament was about to start. Unreal Tournament matches were about to kick off and with the flick of a switch, it was go time. There is something peaceful about the glow of a monitor screen and when there is over a hundred, it’s downright beautiful.

As the evening progressed, I received a phone call from home. Due to a family emergency, I was forced to pack everything up and head back up to Indy. Having talked with Derek since returning, as well as reading up on the rest of the event at www.AsylumLAN.com, the LAN party continued on without a hitch and finally wrapped up later the next day. While having to leave was unfortunate, I did enjoy the time I was at AsylumLAN this past weekend and urge anyone in the area to drop by their website and see what you think.

As the event progressed, there were more tournaments and activities held and undoubtedly, with Bawls in hand, fun was had by all. It was unfortunate that I was not able to cover the rest of the LAN party but sometimes things come up. Derek was a good sport about me leaving and reassured my that there would be an AsylumLAN 29 and on my way home, it finally hit me. Not many areas can pull of 29 successful LAN parties and under the guidance of Derek and his wife; the next AsylumLAN is all but inevitable.

Looking back, the beautiful thing about AsylumLAN was that almost everyone left with something. Regardless of whether it was a shirt, a pen or even something as large as a motherboard, the fact that there was so much to be given out really speaks volumes about the name that AsylumLAN has built for itself. Companies just don’t come up off of hardware and swag easily.

They have to be confident that their products will be given out and will be seen by as many people as possible. There is also something to be said about the crown that attended this last LAN party. The crowd was polite and well behaved and there for one reason, to game. Whether you went home with a trophy, a shirt, or a video card, the greatest thing that everyone took away with them was a great set or memories.

If you have never experienced a LAN, consider yourself a gamer and live in the Kentuckiana area, AsylumLAN should be on your list of things to do the next time it rolls around. The next event is in August and should prove to be the best one yet. Barring anymore emergencies, Techgage will be present at the next AsylumLAN with more prizes to hand out, more stories to write and even more respect for the work that Derek, his wife and everyone will put into AsylumLAN 29.

Many, many more pictures from the event can be had on the next page.

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