I chose to write about computer parties because they are of great interest to me. Since my boyfriend is very active in this environment and because I find myself surrounded by nerds every day, I thought it was important for me to understand the interest of LAN parties. Although I have attended several LAN parties myself and been active in a crew, I still don’t get it. But my job here is to tell you what a computer party is and how important it is for the nerds as well as us. Because the people at the computer parties are, like it or not, our future.
In an assignment like this, it’s not possible to tell the whole story. I chose the angle of view to tell the inside story, to tell you about the people making this possible.
I started out with some basic information about computer parties. You have to know why people go to these “parties” and what it’s like there, before I start telling you about all the hours that is behind these kinds of arrangements.
The other party of the story: The most important one, according to me.
The story about the people behind this, working day and night to even make it possible to arrange something like this.
It’s important to remember that these people are just like me and you. They have fulltime jobs, bills to pay and children to feed. And on top of everything else they have this job, and its more exhausting than any day job, I can promise you!
· Play games
· Download movies, music etc.
· Surf on the internet
· And everything else you can do on a computer
· DDR (dance dance revolution)
The definition of a LAN party is two computers or more, sharing a network connection. A computer party and a LAN party is the same thing.
Computer parties are everywhere. They’re spread all over Norway, and have a capacity from 5200 people and down to only two three people. The most common computer party has 200-300 contestants.
Norway is one of the leading countries when it comes to this type of arrangement. What the reason for this is no one knows for sure. Maybe it’s because of out cold climate? Computer parties huge in the rest of Scandinavia as well and if its one things that’s for sure, it’s that they have a cold climate as well. Denmark, Finland and Sweden all have computer parties with a thousand contestants or more.
Because there are so many, it’s impossible to include them all in my research. And since the purpose is to go deep, I chose to use only chose a few parties as the foundation for the assignment.
I chose Polar party as my main source; this party is held in Stokke and is 8 years old. One of the things that are interesting with this party is that they have managed to retain their crew almost intact since the beginning.
In computer parties there is no age limit; if you’re not in diapers and can take care of yourself you are allowed at a computer party. This is mostly because the responsibility lies with the parents. They clearly state that they are not babysitters and that they can’t take responsibility children who are present at the party. They haven’t got the capacity. However they have recommendations on their web pages: They recommend an age limit somewhere around 15-16 years of age.
The main problem when it comes to children at computer parties is that they easily get carried away. Everything is so fun that they tend to forget eating, drinking and sleeping. This is all very necessary when it comes to surviving a computer party.
I’ve spoken to several friends who can share the same experience. A younger sibling doesn’t understand the importance of these things. You can’t last a whole party without food and sleep; this is something you learn as you go.
In the computer party environment they put the nerds in different groups. This is mainly for fun, but also to have own names for the groups they don’t like. Gamers are usually the most hated of the computer parties’ attendants; they are mainly there to play games. The other nerds look down on them because they’re not as creative and in some eyes they don’t get the purpose of the computer. Even though we have these groups it’s not a sure thing that you will fit into any of them. These are just rough groups to define the different types of users.
The different users of computers
1. The creative- They live and breathe for the computer. They use most of their time in front of the computer and everything about it is of interest for them. They are very interested in how everything works and usually pick the computer to pieces to find out what’s inside of it. They have high technical knowledge and try out new programs and operative systems constantly.
2. The typical nerd- They have a social life and friends. They are just like any other teenager with a normal hobby. They use most of their time chatting or surfing the internet, but usually also have some or high technical knowledge.
3. The practic- They have practical use of the computer. They use text sheets and to surf on the internet. They never use the computer for fun, just for work and practical things. They have little or no technical knowledge.
4. The lamer- They use the computer mainly for chatting and surfing the internet. They have no technical knowledge and use just about all the time they have in front of the computer. The reason that they are called lamers is because in some eyes they are wasting time and not using what the computer has to offer.
5. The gamer- They use all of their time in front of the computer playing games over the internet. They are members of clans (groups of gamers from all over the world, playing in clans against each other. A clan is a team like a football team) gaming is their life. They go to computer parties to play against each other to win prices. If the gamer is talented he can make a lot of money winning contests.
6. Girls are their own group. They have their own way of approaching a computer. Most girls are fascinated by chatting, because they are social and like to talk a lot. Some girls and only use the computer for practical things. Common for most girls is that they are much more afraid of the computer, they are worried they might do something wrong and brake it. Some girls also have high technical knowledge. Girls in general spend the time on their computer to do schoolwork or chat with their friends. Not many girls use their time on gaming.
The media has for several years told us a story, but is it true?
This story is about the nerd: He is sitting in his room, he wears glasses, he is pale and he has no social life what so ever. If I should guess, I would say that this is correct for 5% of the nerds. We live in a day where everyone has a computer and more importantly everyone has an internet connection at home.
Even though there are a lot of people who have a great interest for computers today, they usually don’t fit into this picture. The class distinction is not what it used to be. The woman that wrote the report from the gathering about use of computers agrees with this. One of the most important questions she asked was just about the media and the picture their responsible for. Most of the nerds can’t seem to fit themselves into this picture, they have friends and they even get some sun occasionally.
The first and most important thing I found out is: Interest is the main motivation. These kids actually give up their holiday and spare time to work in computer parties, and difficult to understand as it is; they want to. As most nerds they also want to learn new things, that’s another motivation for the application.
They are usually the type of human beings who have a great love for computers and having fun. In my experience the crew can be similar to the nerds themselves, they sometimes feel left out and different. Sometimes they haven’t got that many friends, and even if they do, they can feel alone. They have no one to share their love for computers.
In the crew they find the people they have been searching for, the people who can laugh at the same jokes, spend 48 hours in front of the computer without sleeping. They find people they have things in common with, and most of all, some one to share their weird humor with. Because if there is one thing a nerd has, it’s a weird sense of humor.
How do I apply for crew?
The first thing you do if you want to be in a crew is to log on to the party’s website. A few months in advance they usually release the crew applications and you just fill them inn and send it. In a normal crew application you usually fill out:
· Your name
· Your address
· Your age
· What your interests are
· Why you are applying for crew
· What qualifications you have
· What type of crew you could see yourself working in
· And how you found out about the crew applications and the party (this is to make the job easier to find crew members in the future, a direct response to their marketing for the party and for the crew members.)
When you have filled out an application you just have to wait until you hear from the administrators, this can take everything from 1 week uptill two months. Usually they handle the applications in a short time.
You then receive an e-mail where they tell you made the crew or not. If you made the crew you are usually invited to a gathering were receive all the important information. In the e mail they also tell you what crew they have accepted you in.
It’s not a sure fact that anyone will make the crew, and this is as simple as: Crews cost money; a party can’t afford to have any more crew members than strictly necessary. You are chosen if they think your qualifications are needed or if the crew doesn’t have enough working in it as it is. There are usually a few rejections of crewmembers during the applicant’s period. But most parties have a problem filling up their crews, causing even more work for the crew members. Sadly enough there are too many parties who chose to continue in spite of 5-6 or more available crew spots. The only party I have heard about who have to many applications is The Gathering, every year they say no to 50-60 applicants. This is a good thing, because then they get only the best of the best to work for them. And that’s strictly necessary when you are holding Europe’s biggest computer party.
When all the arrangements are done the crews are the ones taking over. The administrators set up a working schedule for them and the crew members have to obey this.
The crew arrives the day before the party starts and is divided into following groups:
· Tech crew
· Tech support
· Crew care
· Event crew
· Admin crew
· Info crew
· Food crew
· Security crew
The crews can differ from party to party, and crews like tech support and info crew are not usually present at smaller parties (100 contestants or less). Tech support is not present at large parties either, because of the capacity of the crew and the amount of money being used.
Tech crew is not necessary at all really, because the contestants themselves can help each other out. Polar party has a motto that they don’t help out their contestants with problems, because they can help each other. Then they both learn new things and make new friends. They want computer party to be a social and learning experience, so therefore the motto. The crews usually work 8 hour shifts and have breaks all depending on capacity. The goal is 8, 8 and 8, eight hours of work, eight hours of spear time and 8 hours of sleep. But this hardly ever works.
Some people work a lot and some work only their own shifts. There are always different people there and some are just built to work, and some never work, so the ones that always work have to work some more. The administrators know this and have therefore made a rule for the freshman crew: They have to pay their ticket the first year of attending the crew and if they do their job they get their money back when the party is over. This is an important rule, to insure that the party doesn’t loose money.
Then you have those people who knows something that no one else knows, they hardly get any sleep at all, because some how they are always needed. The parties have crew care for these situations. They are supposed to look after everyone, making sure that they get enough food and sleep. You always have the people who can’t say no and gets pushed around a lot. They are the ones the crew care is there for, so they have someone looking out for their interests.
The reason that many kids do this is because of the learning, you can learn a lot from being in the different crews, for example in the tech crew you learn to set up an entire huge network and making it work. And you learn new things every year. Some things are the same every year, and at the end you know it forwards and backwards, other things are new every year. It’s primarily during the party that the new tasks and problems come; the tasks before the party are usually the same every year. You also learn to be creative and handling stress, because if there is something you learn when you work at LAN parties, its handling stress.
All the parties of course chose former crew members first, genuinely because they know what to do, and it’s in the party’s interests to keep their crew members for several years. Crew members cost money, and those who apply often has to work their asses off, because the party doesn’t have the economy to hire all the help they really need.
After your duty is done, you get a certificate where they tell employer what you have done and if you have done a good job. The certificates are usually alike; the only exception they make is if someone is really good or really bad. The really bad ones doesn’t get recommended to future employers, the really good ones who have worked more than they needed and made the party better, get special certificates written out. This is the advantage you get from being in a crew, and because TG is such a huge party it usually helps that you have former experience from other parties as well.
The other advantage is as told before; you learn a lot and of course you meet a lot of people and get new friends. Knowing people in the business is also important when you want to get a job, people that can recommend you and give you tips for good jobs.
Many people apply for the crew because it’s a challenge, especially bigger parties like the gathering. It’s so big. Of course there are not a lot of girls in the crews, at the gathering there was are 28 girls in the crew all together in 2001. There are often typical girls who apply, not especially ugly or nerdy girls. Just the girls that are used to hanging around boys and have an interest for computers. And because boys aren’t that competitive against girls, guys often give the girls a lot of credit and are really impressed if the girls can do tasks they didn’t thought possible. The girls in the TG crew have been interviewed and both states that they don’t feel left out because there are a lot of guys in the crew.
But the crews are usually melt together, so you can hang out and get to know people from other crews as well. In the tech crew its important with technical knowledge, but in the other crews that’s usually not necessary. They need hard working people who can work long hours without sleep and still function. It’s divided between the different crews, tech crew usually. Many people choose crews after what they want to work with in the future.
Advantages of being in a crew:
· You learn a lot
· You get a certificate
· You meet new people and develop contact
· You create a network with people who can recommend you
Believe it or not, a computer party is really quite judge mental. If you belong to a group you have a click of people on your team.
They are divided into several groups:
Lamer, they have no technical knowledge, but are totally addicted to chatting and the computers.
The nerds live for the computer, have high technical knowledge and are good; they are often programmers and stuff.
The gamers have also low technical knowledge, and use all their time playing games over the internet, they are the group most hated of the others at data parties. A gamer is often cursing used against people playing and isn’t a positive thing to be called.
Girls usually never come into any of these groups, but are included in all of them. Boys like girls because they are sweet and innocent and because many of them are so useless when it comes to computers.
Start early, about 4-6 months before the event. Every minute after this reduces the quality of the party, you can’t think of everything in 3 weeks. Then you have to find a location, this is extremely important so that people come to your computer party. If you choose a place that it’s difficult to get to, you risk losing tons of money and a budsjet problem at the end of the party. It’s recommended to find something the council owns, because it’s much cheaper. You can save up to 25000 Norwegian croner if you choose the right location.
You should book it at least three months in advance. Important things that the room should have:
Rooms for sleeping
And enough toilets (a lot for boys and one for the girls)
You have to remember that you will need the location (gymnasium, assembly hall etc) one day in advance for rigging before the party and one after for cleaning and taking down equipment.
You are going to need a crew, about 30-40 people if you have 300 contestants.
You then divide you people into groups:
Tech-support (3-6), Tech-net (3-4), Game (2-3), Scene (2-3), Party-Info (2-3), Canteen (5-10), Security (10-20)
Tech support is something you offer, but only if you have the capacity, it’s really not necessary. Not many parties chose to exclude this because the contestants get to know each other if they ask each other for help.
Tech- net is the crew that takes care of the work with the network and servers. This is the crew where you need experienced people, people who know what they are doing.
Game crew takes care of the gaming part of the party. The make game compos, handle prices and information about gaming.
The information crew have responsibility for information under the party. They have their own desk and are responsible for that everyone knows what they need. They are responsible for taking calls from parents and other.
Canteen crew takes care of the food and sales, eventually selling products like t shirts.
Security is extremely important. You need people who are strong and adult, over 18, people who are tough and can throw people out. They need to be authorities. You always need 2 people or more on guard.
The crews need a chief. They set the schedules for when the crew members are working, what they should do and is the person responsible for everything being done. Crew and cook should be decided about 2 months in advance. The crew chief has to have crew meetings to organize the crew and all the crew chiefs meet to organize so that everything is planned in advance.
Make a webpage where you put all the information about the party, make people hear about it and have everything people need to know there. You should also make people apply for crew on your web page. You should update a lot, any information you lack in your webpage, you will loose people.
You should have a registration system on your page, so that people can register in advance, you can use partyticket.net that have a system. It costs money but if you haven’t got the competence to make it yourself it is a good system. People can pay in advance and make your own chat channel for information and for people to talk to each other.
Put up posters; tempt people with high speed internet line, prices for compos and stuff. Try to get sponsors, if you can’t try to find other solutions because t shirts and other equipment are expensive. It’s difficult to find sponsors if you are completely new to the game, it’s much easier to find sponsors if you have a brand and have something to show for.
The people behind the computer party are the administrators. They are the ones responsible for the whole thing and are the ones working before, during and after the party. The crew also does a big job, but nothing compared to the admins. After having spoken to the head admin from polar party, I got an estimate over the working hours Polar party put in before, during and after a party. Everything is carefully calculated, but it’s probably more hours put into it than this show, because of all the hours they have forgotten to write down.
If one person has a fulltime job for 1 year he will work somewhere around 1800 hours (Holidays are counted as well). The crew and administrators of polar party are about 30 people all together and their working hours with the party alone is about 1700 hours. You can see the calculation of working hours below:
Crew and administrators: 30 people.
They work for full seven days (5 party days, and two days rigging up and taking down all the equipment, cleaning location and so on)
They all work (or should work) 8 hours a day. (It’s usually more)
= 1680 working hours
As you can see the party alone is only a hundred hours from 1 years fulltime work for one man/woman. The calculating is wrong, because at least 20-30% work for 18-20 hours a day. But these hours are not counted for.
The administrators are the ones working the most. They start working 2-3 months before the party and are the ones planning the whole party. They have meetings, they build things, and they work with financial support and so on.
The administrators work very differently, because they usually have full time jobs, some put in more working hours than the rest.
Every administrator put in about 100 working hours.
At polar party there are 8 administrators.
= 800 hours of planning
There is a lot of equipment, food and other things that are needed for a party to work. Because of the economy of the party they haven’t got the money for transporting of goods, so they have to do it themselves.
At polar party 2003 spring break they had one person driving for 3 full days. He drove almost without stop and in 3 days drove the distance of Bodø-Rome (Italy).
They also have people driving shorter distances and you can see the calculation of the driving all together below:
1 person driving full time: 68 hours
Driving over short distances: 50 hours
= 160 driving hours
Polar party built tables for their party in 2003. This work is only put in once, but since I am using the accounts of hours for this assignment I thought it was important to include.
10 people all working for about 30 hours each
= 300 hours of building tables
The head administrator of polar party works has the party as a full time job for two months before the party begins. He is the one that in the end has all responsibility and is the one in charge of everyone else. He is also the one in charge of making the letters of recommendation for the crew. The head admin is in charge of the polar organisation and works additional hours with this.
250 working hours, almost a fulltime job before the party starts.
200 working hours with the organisation
= 450 working hours for head administrator
Some work is not counted and registered but it has been estimated to about 200 hours. Hours that are worked during the party is also accounted for here. Usually there are very few people actually working 8 hour shifts, most work 5-10 hours more than they have to during the 5 party days, some even more.
= 200 working hours not accounted for.
The cook is in charge of the kitchen. He has to cook for the crew, as well as keeping the canteen in order. He has to pick out and organise his crew. He has to purchase food and check prices. The whole canteen is depending on him. This is very important because it’s usually the canteen that saves the budsjet every year.
50 working hours taking calls, purchasing food etc.
20 hours organising crew, instructing everyone in cooking, hygiene etc.
50 working hours during the party (making food for the crew, helping out in the canteen)
=120 working hours for the cook alone
There are many different ways to get money if you are just a bit creative. Polar party which is held in Stokke formed an organization approved by the government and got money for each member; they collect an annual sum each year decided by the government from year to year. Their goal is to gather the youth in Vestfold County for a great experience in Stokkehallen in the winter and spring break. They have over 600 members at the moment and are still growing. Every “commune” in Vestfold is represented in the organization. They also want to include people from all over the country, but Vestfold is their main target seeing as though the party is held here.
The polar organization has had computer parties since 1997, and has recently registered as an organization in Brønnøysundsregisterene. They have started a board with 7 members and hold annual meetings for their members. There they inform their members about economy and other important issued within the organization.
The computer party environment is very competitive. In the world there are a hundreds of computer parties and they all compete against each other. They all want to be the biggest and the best. Some parties have even had problems with threats against their party. If you’re new to the business and start a computer party in the same holiday or at the same place as another computer party, you might be heading for trouble.
Some new parties have been terrorized and threatened by all ready existent computer parties nearby. It’s with good reason too, because the competition is hard and a new party can cause a huge economic disaster for a party.
The computer parties also have to make their customers happy, because if they don’t they will probably find somewhere else to be. These kids are the ones holding this all together, financially and the administrators know this. It’s a constant battle between the parties, who has the best internet connection/speed, who has the greatest prices and so on. The computer parties sacrifice everything they can to win this competition every year.
Every computer party has something own and unique. The gathering is the biggest, Polar Party has the best cafeteria, Oslo LAN is the place for gamers and so on. This is what makes these computer parties so unique today, because of the competition. Every year there are several new computer parties, and they are all competing against each other.
The term LAN party is a wide expression. A LAN party in theory is two computers or more in a network. With the two computers sharing information, downloading from each other as well as sharing the internet connection. There are many LAN parties in basements with a few friends, junk food and lots of coca cola. But LAN parties can also be as big. The Gathering, and even bigger, with 5000 people or more.
The difference says itself really, the big data LAN parties have a big network, more people and more things to do. Big LAN parties usually have many activities and you can read the event story later on in the report. A small LAN party usually consists of playing games against each other (Counterstrike, Warcraft, Quake and so on) and downloading of movie and music files. I would say that the most important thing about a LAN party is the social aspect of it. Friends who enjoy computers get together and share their interest, they discuss it, they share their humor about it and have fun. The reason the LAN party even exists today is because of just that. Someone found out how genius it must be to put many computers in a room and be together. Because in theory computers are a lonesome hobby. Most other hobbies include social activities and exist mostly because of it. But sitting on a computer in your room, you are usually all alone. The only way you have to interact with people is over the internet, and that’s probably the reason why internet is so widespread. So the person that invented LAN parties should be proud of him/herself, they have made a lonesome hobby a social hobby, a hobby that includes people, talk and just being with someone.
LAN in the United States
I included this section because it’s mandatory. I haven’t found all that much information about this and the information I have is included in the piece below:
LAN parties in the United States is not a big thing, because the country is so huge, that there are to far distances to travel and the interest for computers against people living in the United States is much lower than in Norway.
They have gaming compos and gaming LANs in the United States, but not by far as big as in Europe and not as widespread. However the gathering is a international arrangement and therefore include both Great Britain and the United States. About a hundred tickets are held kept away for the rest of the world. Most of them are for gamers of the world class or other people from all over the world with great skills in something that has to do with computers and technology.
My sources for this project
The computer party I have the widest knowledge about is Polar Party, because my boyfriend is an administrator there. I have seen the preparation and every working hour during the party and after. All the meetings, driving hours, the hours they spent building tables and everything else. I chose to use this computer party as my main source so that my assignment goes deep into the details and work of a computer party. You can never read and understand a computer party completely; you have to experience it for yourself.
I also used the gathering as my source; I have several friends who have been there. I also know people in the crew there, and they have been a great help for me.
My first thought was to make a film about computer parties, because of the reason I was telling earlier; you can never feel it or understand completely before you see it or experience for it self. But unfortunately I wasn’t able to get enough material in such a short time. There are different people, sitting on different material. And it’s difficult to keep track of where everything is. So instead I chose to have an oral presentation as well as this report to try as best as I can to tell you anyway.
I think my assignment tells the most important story from my point of view. I told the stories I thought where important. The most important thing for me to tell was that a computer party is difficult. It’s a lot of work and the people that work with this work sometimes day and night to make this happen. I wanted to tell the story about the people that sacrifice so much just to give the youth of our country somewhere to be and somewhere to meet new people. I believe that computer parties are important in the learning process for the nerds. And with our technical future we need all this competence in the future.
Most of us don’t think that computer parties are important, but I think they are highly underestimated. In my opinion the nerds are in a big way our future, its time we start taking them seriously and give them some respect!
What did I think of the assignment
The people responsible for the LAN parties are the administrators. They have to plan the whole thing, find sponsors, keep track of the numbers, find crew members, and market their party and so on.
The administrators start the work at least 4 months in advance with meetings that can last everything from 2-24 hours. They make a webpage, find or create a ticket system. Book a place to have it, find a great location that people will come to. They fix internet and so on. Then they pick out crewmembers and distribute work to them as well. Every crew has an admin, one for the canteen, one for event and so on. They make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be and are responsible for everything in their own crew.
The crews are the people working at the LAN parties. They work 12 hour shifts (depending on the party and how many crew members there are). They work for free, they often have a own cook who makes food for them.
Most crew members are friends of the administrators, some girlfriends and so on. After reading the report from TG I learned that most crewmembers work because its fun, they have a interests for data or LAN parties. They often have friends in the crew or make new friends. I have been in a crew myself and it was, it’s difficult to explain why its fun. You learn new things and make new friends. The crew members deliver own applications where they fill out there qualifications, why they want to work in the crew, where they can see themselves working and so on. The administrators look at these applications, and it’s always the possibility that you don’t get accepted. TG rejects 40-50 crew members every year, because there are too many applications. The ones in the crew doing a bad job don’t get the certificate and has to pay a ticket. Every new crew member has to pay their ticket the first year, because of the possibility of them doing a bad job, so that they won’t loose any money because of non trustworthy persons.
The people hanging around at LAN parties are usually quite good. They know what they are doing and have taught themselves. We have everything you can imagine when it comes to computers and hardware. The report I’ve recently read told me about this and that we should stop looking down at them, but instead encourage them to keep doing what they are doing. I recently read an article about a father who went with his son to a LAN in USA; he then found out that the nerd he had up at his room playing games over the internet is one of the world’s greatest gamers. He then came with the same statement as the report. Engage yourself in your kids and encourage them instead of giving them a hard time about it.
A computer party is non profit arrangement, it’s really difficult to make money doing it, plus that if you have a serious organization you put the money you make back in the organization.
The gathering 2003
The wedding at the gathering in 2000
A smaller computer party
Outside the gathering