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PAX 2007: LAN parties terrify me

4:04 PM on 08.26.2007

Earnest Cavalli

Contributor

One of the big draws for PAX is the ability for people all over the world to meet in a centralized location with a couple hundred like-minded geeks for an orgy of blood and erratic jumping courtesy of the magic of an ethernet cable.

For the past three days, in a room directly across from where all the fancy, shiny new titles are being shown off, sit hundreds of people bathed in the luminescent glow of the cathode ray tube (or glowing liquid crystals if your pedantry is such that you MUST screw with my phrasing). From the crack of mid-morning until well after everyone else has gone off to kill their brain cells with booze and falling off of beds into hard, sharp tables, they've been locked into their various virtual worlds -- chief among them: Counterstrike, Halflife and the various flavors of Battlefield.

As much as I could go on for days about these virtual warriors -- perhaps an epic poem like Gilgamesh sans the flood and with more back hair -- the entire thing really struck me as terrifyingly eerie. Walking through the rows of computers and people completely transfixed by said computers, you get the sensation of having stepped into a Gibsonian future dystopia where the line between human and machine has blurred into a disgusting slurry of liquid fat and silicon.

After today I'm growing a beard and moving to a cabin in the woods. If the flying robotic squids ask, tell them I'm washing my hair. 

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