Portland (OR) – Getting smacked in the head with a ball usually is a bad thing, but for hundreds of PDXLAN attendees over President’s Day Weekend it was a chance to have fun and win gigabytes of RAM sticks. For four days, more than five hundred avid gamers descended upon Portland Oregon to virtually kill each other and win thousands of dollars in prizes in wacky contests – like vegemite eating, chair holding and yes, even dodgeball. I’ve attended other LAN parties, but my first visit to PDXLAN showed me how a large party can still be fun and “homey”.
Gamers from across the country and Canada streamed into the Holiday Inn convention hall on Friday February 15th and turned PDXLAN into one of the most awesome displays of computing and graphics power that I’ve ever seen. Almost every machine was water-cooled and I don’t think there was a stock case to be seen (well outside of the ones brought by one of the sponsors Antec). The sheer amount of glowing screens and LEDs gave the hall an eerie glow that was easily captured in our picture gallery.
PDXLAN founder Matt "Vector" Conwell throws out prizes
Several attendees already had working Skulltrail machines while others showed off their unique cases. Kerry Mraz or “Bug” as his friends call him showed me his “Keg O’ Rum” case mod which actually was a barrel of rum (used of course). “I drank it and had to use the barrel for something,” he told me. Working as a freelance computer networking technician during the day, Mraz spent two years making his case and cedar wood keyboard. But while the case may purposely look “old”, Mraz did win some new memory to make the insides feel like new.
"Keg O' Rum" case mod by Kerry Mraz
And winning prizes is a big part of PDXLAN because attendees are literally showered expensive computer hardware like Palit 8800 GT graphics cards, Intel Core 2 Extreme processors and gigabytes of RAM from Lexar Media. The grand prize was a thousand+ dollar Core 2 Extreme processor, Palit graphics card, water cooling system, Antec case, hard drive, RAM and power supply – basically a completely new system. Not bad for the lucky attendee who paid the measly $60 entry fee.
Many of the prizes were for winning your typical LAN party tournaments like besting opponents in strategy and first person shooter games, but attendees could subject themselves to torture for loot. Lexar Media gave away gigabytes of speedy RAM for winners of a massive dodgeball game. Judging by the speed at which people were throwing at each other (and aiming for the head nonetheless), I’m surprised no ambulances were called to cart off the wounded.
One attendee volunteered, yes the crazy guy volunteered to eat an entire jar of vegemite for a pair of Palit 8800 GT 1 GB cards. He almost finished the jar before throwing up in front of the audience. Yes we have video of this and yes you probably shouldn’t watch it. Oh, his neighbor also won an 8800 GT card just for sitting next to him and surviving the stench. YUCK!