Nowadays, we tend to forget that there was a time before the internet but back in the 90s, broadband internet wasn’t available in most households. Back in those days, if you wanted to play multiplayer game together, you almost had no other choice than to be at the same location, with at least two computers connected on the same Local Area Network or LAN. Friends started to meet up to enjoy their favorite games together, often at one of their houses, and so the first LAN-parties were born.
A brief history of the LAN-party
These LAN-parties started small with groups of just a few friends but soon the concept grew more and more popular with games like Quake, Unreal Tournament and Counter-Strike coming out. Soon, more and more people started to gather in bigger venues. Eventually, the interest grew so much that there was need for more professional organizations that arranged a location, power, internet, logistics, catering and everything else. This way LAN-parties grew out to real, commercial events with ticket sales organized by dedicated LAN organizers that throw a big LAN-party at least once a year. In Belgium, LANs like FiberLAN, SugarLAN, Frag-o-Matic, OCC and many more became household names in the scene for years.
The biggest LAN-party in Belgium to this day is OCC 19 with 1600 participants which was organized in 2005 in Ghent. Not long after OCC 19 however, police started to crack down on LAN-parties because file sharing of copyrighted material was also very common at these events. After this OCC took a big hit from which it never recovered. Frag-o-matic then took over as the biggest LAN-party in Belgium, hitting 1000 participants consistently for years.