While many couples plan on spending their Valentine’s Day weekend out and about or at a fancy dinner, some members of the UW-Stout community are instead planning to attend the PONG Local Area Network (LAN) gaming event. A LAN is a computer network links computers within a limited area — like a house, school, office building, laboratory — or university campus.
The organization recognizes that many couples might want to attend an event instead of having a more traditional Valentine’s Day. PONG Promoter Kayla Fromader said, “I think it’s a pretty unique option. It also gives an alternative for people who maybe don’t want to spend money. It’s a 48-hour, free event. You could call it a date, get some pizza, play some games.”
PONG — the People’s Organization of Network Gaming — continues to host its quadannual LANs with the first LAN of the Spring 2018 semester, the Forever-A-LAN. While most LANs feature a new theme each year, Forever-A-LAN has kept its moniker for the past several years. Its origins rest within the iconic “Forever Alone” meme of 2010. However, don’t let its origins affect your decision to attend.
The Forever-A-LAN is similar to other LANs in the fact that you can expect to see 150+ attendees, most with their own computer or console setup. However due to it taking place during the weekend after Valentine’s Day, there will be Valentine’s Day themed activities and prizes. One of the most popular activities of past years was the ability to send a valentine to anyone else attending the LAN.
“For people who are in a relationship, it’s a bonding experience because you get to sit down with each other. For some people, that doesn’t happen very often,” PONG President Dan Strandjord said.
While the Forever-A-LAN can be an alternative for couples, it is also an option for those not in a relationship. “If you don’t have a significant other or you’re not in a relationship what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend. You can just kick back, relax, and play some games,” said Fromader.
For those who do not have a computer or console to bring, there are plenty of other options. At least three public stations are setup for multiple people to play popular “couch co-op” games such as Super Smash Brothers, Nidhogg, and Gang Beasts. This year’s Forever-A-LAN will also include four virtual reality stations for LAN attendees. This is a significant increase from the previous LAN’s single VR station.
If those who aren’t interested in video games, there are several non-gaming events. Dollar Chug, Meme Jeopardy, Name that Tune, and more are hosted at each LAN. Upon signing in at the LAN, you will be given drawing tickets that can be used to earn prizes of all kinds. Many prizes will be Valentine’s Day themed, such as a previous year’s grand prize of a “Boyfriend Pillow.”
When asked what he thinks about the LAN events, Strandjord said,” The atmosphere there is just incredible. It’s hard to explain. You take something that normally people have done in their room alone or through Skype, then you put everyone together. It breaks people out of their comfort zones for a little bit. It just makes everything better.”
The Forever-A-LAN begins at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16 and ends at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18. It will be located in the Great Hall and the Ballrooms of the Memorial Student Center. It is open to the public, and sign ins will be at the table next to the stage of the Great Hall.