How I fell in love with QuakeCon | PCGamesN

Lords of the Fallen is a ferocious, and infuriating Dark Souls clone

Red:Out is Wipeout, but on the PC. It’s about time.

Elder Scrolls Online and Skyrim books will cover the lore and the land of Tamriel

Doom

How I fell in love with QuakeCon

QuakeCon: an institution.

Photo by Owen "O1kenobi" Long

There are two network parties at the Hilton Anatole this weekend. The first is for KPMG, the giant accountancy firm. They are suited and booted, ready to talk. You can spot them a mile off, smart little white badges, free (expensive) coffee and a rare confidence. This is their summer event, and they are here to work. 

On the other side of the lobby is the early arrivals for the other party. It’s a Quake team. They only get together at QuakeCon. But they play together every night. They hug, smile, laugh and joke. They trail PCs and monitors and network cables in little carts. They are so happy to be here.

The KPMG lot spot the gamers. You can see them trying to mask their curiosity. Unfailing politeness, but with eyebrows raised. 

“Some gaming convention.”

Photo by Owen "O1kenobi" Long

QuakeCon is weird. It’s a LAN party really, to which Id, and their owners Bethesda have gradually bolted on promotional events, lectures and panels. For a relatively small fee, you can bring a PC and play on their LAN all weekend. For free, you can turn up and watch FPS tournaments, see the panels, or just wander among a few high-end PC resellers. 

It’s weird because it’s such an institution, in such an incongruous setting. It’s called the Hilton Anatole, on the outskirts of Dallas its home since 2006 and nothing about that makes sense. The Hilton is vast, and corporate and clad almost entirely in marble. The lobby, the in-room brochure is keen to point out, “hosts the largest collection of Asian Art of any American hotel.” 

And downstairs, in the darkened belly of the conference rooms, 9000 gamers will queue up to kill demons.

Photo by Aenea "Precious Death" Harbes

The night before the show opens, I wake up at 3am. Jetlag’s a bitch. I can hear voices. Quiet at first, then uproarious cheering, before someone hushes the noise. 

“SHHHHH.” 

Someone’s having a party. 

I creep outside to see what’s going on. There’s a trail of CAT5 cable running between rooms. They couldn’t wait to get a LAN going. It’s too funny, almost too sweet to get upset about. I go back to sleep. 

Later, I realise one of the KPMG lot called hotel security. Security just asked them to keep the noise down.

What makes QuakeCon different is the sense of community. This is an event that has a reputation: part built on id’s support, part built on a (now sadly absent) keynote by id founder Jon Carmack, but mostly built on friendliness. It’s impossible to overstate just how welcoming QuakeCon is. It’s staffed mostly by volunteers, and these volunteers are QuakeCon attendees. One guards one of the emergency exits – making sure that the PCs and laptops in the hall are safe. 

So taken is he with this role that he’s dressed as Kick Ass for the occasion. He’s pretty proud of his cosplay – he’s walking up and down the huge rolling doors, tapping his sticks together, posing for photos. It transpires that he was so excited about his costume that he entirely forgot to bring his PC.

“I’ve got to go back home tomorrow to pick it up.”

“Oh gosh.”

“It’s an eight hour drive.” 

Photo by Larry "Neocane" Gipson

There’s another thing happening this year at QuakeCon. Part show of strength, part morale booster: id are going to show off their work on Doom. Not Doom 4, not Doom Redux. Doom. They’re rebooting the company’s most important game. 

I’ve been a games journalist for over 10 years, and there is no greater thrill than being with a games fans during an important announcement. My favourite, absolute favourite memory is sitting in the audience as Blizzard announced The Burning Crusade. The noise was like nothing else. Nothing except ten minutes afterwards, when Blizzard announced that they would link WoW’s auction houses. 

Gamers understand what’s important. A demon invasion is exciting. Buying stacks of cloth from Stormwind is a revelation. 

There’s more hanging on this Doom announcement than normal. Id have been relatively silent since Rage, their last game. But in the meantime, Id co-founder and the company’s most public face, John Carmack, has left to join VR startup Oculus. Now, Id, their parent Bethesda, and Oculus have begun legal proceedings. 

The only sign of Carmack is his face stretched across a row of 32” monitors near the entrance to the LAN. A quiet memorial. But with compression artefacts. 

Login or Register
1
+1
-0
a_tiny_child's picture
7

Beautifully written. QC really is an amazing experience every time I get to go, and you basically captured the joy of the convention in this piece.

wooooooooOOOOOP!

1
+1
-0
Jezcentral's picture
126

I'm in my forties and still go to LAN parties, because it's the only time I can get a proper gaming session in. My last one was LeachLAN 11. Five days of concentrated gaming!

Of course, for us older ones, it was different, we bought our leather chairs (yes, really), slept in local hotels, etc, while the younger ones had the Glastonbury experience (sleeping in tents or on the floor, no washing, etc :) ). There was even an ale sale in the main hall.

Bliss.

I'm surprised I don't see more people in their thirties-plus at LANs. Otherwise, when do they get time to game?

Alienware - Game VictoriousNvidia Shield - Titanfall
Lords of the Fallen is a ferocious, and infuriating Dark Souls clone

Lords of the Fallen

Lords of the Fallen is a ferocious, and infuriating Dark Souls clone

Elder Scrolls Online and Skyrim books will cover the lore and the land of Tamriel

Elder Scrolls Online and Skyrim books will cover the lore and the land of Tamriel

Aliens by way of XCOM game, Halfway, gets mod support

Aliens by way of XCOM game, Halfway, gets mod support

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor has a place called Gorgrond that’s positively beastly

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor has a place called Gorgrond that’s positively beastly

The Stanley Parable sells over a million copies;

The Stanley Parable sells over a million copies; "The Narrator decided not to tell Stanley"

Ragnar Tørnquist defends ableist language in Dreamfall Chapters:

Ragnar Tørnquist defends ableist language in Dreamfall Chapters: "Those people exist in real life, and so they must exist in fiction"

Red:Out is Wipeout, but on the PC. It’s about time.

Red:Out

Red:Out is Wipeout, but on the PC. It’s about time.

Titanfall's

Titanfall's "biggest update" is still ahead of it; expect details via Twitch today

Master of Draenor I'm pulling your strings: Metallica are playing at BlizzCon 2014

Master of Draenor I'm pulling your strings: Metallica are playing at BlizzCon 2014

Epic's hosting an Unreal Engine game jam this weekend, so get tinkering

Epic's hosting an Unreal Engine game jam this weekend, so get tinkering

Rodina is No Man's Sky on a budget

Rodina is No Man's Sky on a budget

Paranautical Activity developer steps down after threatening Gabe Newell

Paranautical Activity developer steps down after threatening Gabe Newell

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor gear guide: getting started

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor gear guide: getting started

It will never end: Assassin's Creed Chronicles will be a series

It will never end: Assassin's Creed Chronicles will be a series

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor free DLC lets you dress all in black and laugh in the face of poison

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor free DLC lets you dress all in black and laugh in the face of poison

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive eSports team ALSEN accused of match fixing

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive eSports team ALSEN accused of match fixing

Ubisoft’s Jade Raymond leaves to “pursue my other ambitions and new opportunities”

Ubisoft’s Jade Raymond leaves to “pursue my other ambitions and new opportunities”

Fighting the inevitable in Stardock's Sorcerer King

Fighting the inevitable in Stardock's Sorcerer King

Putting on the deerstalker and becoming Sherlock Holmes in Crimes and Punishments

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments

Putting on the deerstalker and becoming Sherlock Holmes in Crimes and Punishments

Dark Souls' Games for Windows Live refugees can play on Steam from November

Dark Souls' Games for Windows Live refugees can play on Steam from November

Riot approve two third-party apps for League of Legends: Curse Voice and Razer Comms

Riot approve two third-party apps for League of Legends: Curse Voice and Razer Comms

Team Fortress 2 now lets players treat themselves to an early Halloween

Team Fortress 2 now lets players treat themselves to an early Halloween

Paranautical Activity un-launches on Steam after creator threatens to kill Gabe Newell

Paranautical Activity un-launches on Steam after creator threatens to kill Gabe Newell

Uber cancels its Human Resources Kickstarter:

Uber cancels its Human Resources Kickstarter: "We simply don’t have the human resources"