SIX NATIONS – Community members of all ages participated in a day full of fun at the Six Nations Community Hall on Saturday, January 6, for the ENGAGE Epic LAN (Local Area Network) Party.
Nearly 250 participants enjoyed prize giveaways, multi-player console games and much more while interacting with one another and creating new friendships through gaming.
Julian Ballentyne, 11, winner of one of the Nintendo Switch gaming systems, said that the day was “awesome.” The prizes, food and hall rental were funded by the Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation.
“Day of Play was awesome because I got to play on the Nintendo Switch all afternoon and then I got to win one of these bad boys,” he said, referring to his new console.
Roughly nine volunteers helped in making the day the success that it was; working hard behind the scenes to co-ordinate the event. Two Row Times Publisher Jonathan Garlow said the day is about connecting and having fun. Video games have a sense of nostalgia for him, yet he also stays current with at least some aspects of today’s modern gaming world. Garlow and his wife Nahnda co-ordinated the event.
“The purpose of the day was for people of the community to get together and play games together,” said Garlow. “When I was a kid I remember there being an arcade where TNT is now, there was one of those stand-up arcades there. And I really liked going there as a kid.”
He said that after finding himself in video games and strategic games, he was given his first NES console in 1986. The sense of fulfilment that he felt by excelling at the games prompted him to help create a space for participants to enjoy them together and to bring back the multi-player interaction that often took place before online gaming.
“[The LAN Party] was a place for people to fit in and also a day just to get together,” he said. “I think people from all walks of life play games so I think it’s a good common denominator. ‘Cause it seems like everyone plays video games today.”
Garlow said the community hall had a space set aside for: Lego, music, Super Smash Bros., Super Mario Kart LAN, Call of Duty, and a board game area for those wanting to participate but not play a video game.
A Super Smash Bros. tournament was run by Josh Curley, who explained that last year he was approached by Garlow to help with this year’s Day of Play.
“Jon has been doing Day of Play for a while,” said Curley. “He wanted to run a tournament last year and I said ‘hey, I’ll help you out.’”
Curley said that Super Smash Bros., a staple in the Nintendo gaming franchise, has managed to withstand the test of time and player ratios continue to increase.
“Super Smash Bros. is a game franchise that was introduced in the ‘90s, like the late ‘90s for the Nintendo 64,” he said. “It wasn’t until Super Smash Bros. Melee version that things started to pick up in the competitive scene. People were starting to learn about the game and learn about different techniques that they could do and people were using those techniques in tournaments and it just became like this huge thing.”
Curley explained that the participants during the Day of Play Lan Party were using the version of Super Smash Bros. that is compatible with the Wii U console. He also determined that the Wii U version is easier to adjust to.
“It’s more open to players, whereas the Melee version was very technical in terms of having to know a lot of the ins and outs to be good at it. This one isn’t as bad and it’s more open to players so there’s a growing fan base.”
Curley co-ordinated the Smash Bros. tournament in the best way for the participants depending on their numbers and skill level, and aimed at giving each participant a fair amount of play.
“It’s always great to be able to play with other people, because now online is always usually just playing with people online and you don’t really get that connection anymore. I grew up on the Nintendo 64 which is like four players sitting beside each other and interacting with each other. So, that’s what these tournaments help with; they bring interaction with players that will laugh or talk which is something you don’t usually get online.”
Engaging and interacting with other players was the main goal overall and its success in doing so has inspired other communities to do the same.