Large screens lined the walls of the Frangipani Room of the Indiana Memorial Union, where an Oculus Rift sat in one corner and a Nintendo Wii in the other.
Students wandered in with laptops and set up along tables in the center of the room Saturday. Soon the air was full of cheers and rage quits, when players became so frustrated they had to stop playing.
The first local area network (LAN) party was proposed and organized by Alicia Hosey, events and marketing coordinator of University Information Technology Services. It was intended to bring popularity to eSports and campus gaming clubs, Hosey said.
“These clubs exist, and people don’t know they exist,” Hosey said. “This event was kind of a marriage of things I’m interested in.”
With a small budget and high expectations, Hosey did the best she could to use free sources of advertisement in order to save money for the event itself. She wrote an article for the UITS newsletter, the Monitor, and focused on word-of-mouth advertising to spread the news.
Hosey also reached out to gaming club presidents, who told their members about the event.
Alan Rozenblit, a junior studying computer science and the president of IU’s Starcraft Club, said this was how he found out.
“Gaming is a niche community, but has a very passionate following,” he said. “I’m pretty pleased with how things have been going.”
Rozenblit started the process of forming the club in 2015, though it was not officially recognized by the University until the beginning of this year.
“As a kid, I was always a fan of real-time strategy games,” Rozenblit said.
He said “Starcraft” is not as popular as it once was, now overshadowed by games such as “League of Legends” and “Heroes of the Storm.” These multiplayer online battle arenas are becoming the more popular option because they allow more casual gaming for a wider, less dedicated audience, Rozenblit said.
“‘Starcraft’ is very competitive and has a high skill barrier of entry,” Rozenblit said. “Even members of the League of Legends Club say ‘Starcraft’ is the hardest game to play.”
The LAN party allowed clubs and club members to meet in person, as most of the interaction they have is online.
“We don’t have a lot of opportunity to get together,” Rozenblit said. “We’re trying to cooperate with other clubs. The best is yet to come.”
Events like this are a good way to build community between gamers on campus.
“[They] get the word out there that IU is taking this seriously,” Rozenblit said.
Jonathan Hosey, a freshman studying computer science, works with UITS. He said this event was made in part because UITS wanted a gaming event in the spring to match the annual LAN War in the fall.
He said the IU administration should become more involved to spread the word about gaming clubs.
“Here on campus, gaming has kind of struggled,” Jonathan Hosey said. “Definitely, school-sponsored events will get information of clubs out there.”
Alicia Hosey said she plans to continue having these events, which are free and open to anyone — from casual observer to dedicated gamer — who wants to attend.
“My end goal is to have a really, really big gaming event,” Alicia Hosey said. “Student events are really where my heart is.”