Day in and day out, for over a decade now, we open our doors to hundreds of guests that make their way to our lounge to play games.
Some come alone.
Some come with groups of friends.
Some come on dates.
Some come for birthday parties.
Some come with teams to compete in tournaments.
Some come to watch professional eSports athletes duke it out for fame, glory, and millions.
And some come to play a game of League but end up finding their new duo queue partner because well…they’ve never seen a support LuLu get played like that.
But to this day we still get asked, why would someone go out to play video games? Better yet, why would someone pay to go play video games? Can’t they just play online at home? Doesn’t everyone have internet at home? Who doesn’t own a computer, Xbox, or Playstation nowadays? It costs what an hour?! Where are your restrooms? (Question has nothing to do with this post but we do get asked this a lot.) Now, if you don’t mind, we’d like to share with you why we think people choose to play local. To be clear, this won’t touch on reasons why people choose to play games in general, as there are countless articles and studies that outline the social, emotional, and cognitive benefits of gaming. (You can read some of that stuff here, here, and here.) This will focus more on the reason why people go over to a friend’s house, a giant LAN event like Dreamhack, or a game lounge to play games.
The central reason is the fact that games are innately social. They are designed with the purpose of bringing people together. From First Person Shooters (FPS) and Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBA) to Real Time Strategy (RTS) and Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games, each game is built to immerse players into multiplayer landscapes. In some scenarios you’re working cooperatively with your team to fend off hordes of flesh-eating zombies while in others, you’re going head-to-head versus an equally matched opponent. According to ESA’s Essential Facts of 2014, about 77% of gamers play with others either in-person or online.
We like to believe that even single player games are social. Much like a movie or book, we can’t help but talk about a rich, character driven storyline that toyed with our emotions with a friend. If you didn’t have at least four conversations about the opening scene in The Last of Us, you might need more gamer friends. Just saying. Regardless of the situation you are almost always playing or enjoying video games with others. There is a reason why Dreamhack’s yearly LAN’s attract 10,000 unique players, why South Korea is home to nearly 25,000 game lounges, and why gaming conventions like E3 can see upwards of 48,000 visitors. It’s the reason why we’ve been able to do business for 13 years – because gamers are social and they want to play together. Now take the social aspect of games and give players the opportunity to share them in-person, and you have a truly visceral experience. There is a much different form of social connection that is had when you are sharing space with someone who is taking in the joy and camaraderie that games have to offer. Which is way more fun! (Though we may have a slight bias…)
If being social is peanut butter, then environment is jelly. They go hand in hand. The atmosphere compliments how a player feels when they are gaming with their friends. It enhances and heightens the experience. When going out to game locally, there is a persistent thought that says ‘I can’t game like this at home’. It comes from the energy of getting together with a group of friends or large crowds, the amenities offered, the equipment and technologies available. It can be achieved through lighting, music, art, decor and extend all the way to the customer service. All of these come together to create the environment. It’s right along what we believe anyone seeks when going out – a unique physical environment where they can socialize with their friends. Bars, concert halls, and sport arenas are all great examples of venues that bring enthusiasts together using both elements.
And finally, gamers are competitive. It’s another driving factor that brings players out locally. Getting to witness the excitement of your team’s success face-to-face is much more exhilarating than hearing their shouts arguably too loud in your headset at home. Also, you know, seeing the look on the faces of the team you just totally dominated is pretty fun, too. Countless gamers have come through our doors and exclaimed “There is nothing like stomping your opponent and immediately seeing their reaction.”
There is undoubtedly high levels of stress and anxiety when competing, but much like the social aspect, it gets much more intensified when in-person or on stage. Higher stakes, crowds watching your every move, and your opponent sitting across from you elevate the competition to its rightful place.
We think it is safe to say that Ignite and other gaming lounges offer a unique experience hardly emulated in the comfort of your home. The friends are livelier, the place has all the tech you need, and the stakes are higher; which all compliment each other to create a space perfect for the gamers of today.
So that was our perspective on the big question: “Why LAN?” Now we want to hear from you! What gets you out of the house and into a gaming lounge?