It was a Friday night. I was in Aotea Square hanging out with my skater homies. Actually, I don’t have any skater homies, but it was a Friday night and I was hanging out in Aotea Square with Selwyn. Ok, not Aotea Square, which was bloody freezing, but the pseudo-Blade Runneresque relative warmth and comfort of the Force Entertainment Centre.

So Selwyn says, “Hey, Rebirth is on! Let’s go and see it.” I had heard of Rebirth. Some dude had posted a message to a newsgroup asking if anyone knew where to get lots of Coke really cheap because he needed it for Rebirth. That was about all I knew of it.

But I quickly learned that it was a LAN convention type thing. The idea is a whole lot of people bring their computers along and they get hooked up on a network so they can all play games, like Quake, together. All that gets the religious-sounding moniker of “Rebirth”.

So Selwyn and I made our way over to the Aotea Centre to view this spectacle. The first sight that greeted me on arrival was a bunch of dudes throwing an inflatable sheep around. Righto, lads.

In one corner some electronic music played, a sponsors banner hung on the wall. Row after row of guys sitting in front of their computers playing games.

After perusing the isles, Selwyn and I concluded that the event was 99% girl-free. I think I saw two girls actually sitting at computers playing, and a few others who appeared to be visiting. But really, really, that’s not surprising.

I mused that if a female were to get up on the balcony, take her top off and yell “Hey check out my tits!” she might get a few glances, but no one would really be all that interested. But I’m sure the purpose of a LAN convention is not meeting girls, so it doesn’t really matter.

Almost every desk had a 1.25 litre bottle of Coke sitting on it. Bags of McDonald’s and Burger King sat on laps. I spotting a large box of liquorice on one desk. Potato chips were also a popular food item. Eating at an event like this does not involve any culinary pleasure. The only requirement is that the food must be dry, able to be eaten with fingers, and be filling. Pure fuel.

The convention room was spacious and air conditioned, but was already starting to be filled with that distinctive eau de geek.

The event goes on over the whole weekend. Some people go home and sleep, others bring a sleeping bag and bed down for the night. By the end on Sunday the place is going to be filled with a bunch tired, smelly, messy geeks.

While I have a computer and spent time in front of it, the whole LAN gaming subculture is something I’ve never been part of. I don’t really get it, but I know that no matter how bleak the hall full of guys and their computers looked, they were probably having a pretty good time. And besides, there’s always the blow-up sheep for company.

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