Building Friendships Through Gaming
High school was an exciting period of my life packed with challenging courses, athletics and extracurriculars. I made many lasting friends and definitely set stones that would help shape my path forward in life. That is somewhat of a standard overview – what’s particularly special is that during all that, I was also exploring computer gaming with friends. Command & Conquer, Warcraft, and Counter Strike to name a few became online havens for competing with friends, practicing with others, struggling with a team to complete a mission or achieve a goal. Eventually the thirst for computer gaming with friends brought me to a Laclede’s LAN event, which was my first real “LAN Party” other than a few friends in a basement. The welcoming nerdy vibe and techy jokes made me feel at home, when computer gaming was still somewhat of an ostracizable pursuit. I made new friends, learned more about computers, and got to share this mutual enjoyment with other locals.
I continued to game into college, and before long met other students in my dormitory who had similar interests. Bonding over shared digital adventures, swooning over expensive new hardware together, or late-night sessions after studying where you decide to get a few dungeon runs in helped build some great memories, albeit not stereotypically collegiate. The interest in LAN parties had not faded, and I continued attending and helping staff the Laclede’s LAN events that were still happening in St. Louis. It was exciting to return to LAN Parties after a few months or a year in between, as you’d still connect with people in much the same way. There’s something about the environment at a LAN party that just makes friendships flourish. I’d say this applies broadly to gamers, but when you put gamers together at a LAN party it can really compound the effect. I’ve continued helping grow and support the LAN party community in St. Louis not because it’s necessary or because I’m a passionate gamer these days, but because of the incredible way it can build unique friendships, encourage teamwork, support competition and the skill of accepting when people are better than you, or supporting those who are perhaps worse.
Noteworthy Items from my own life, tied to friendships all rooted in my LAN party community:
- Shared a townhouse for three years with a friend I met at through Laclede’s LAN.
- My best man in my wedding is the friend who helped me build my first computer.
- I’ve given several job recommendations or been a reference to friends from LANs.
- I’ve traveled internationally multiple times with people I met through Laclede’s LAN.
- I sold my (beloved) first car to my friend from Laclede’s LAN.
- Countless walks, hikes, bike rides, camping trips, and social dinners with gamers who I met through a shared interest in computer gaming; these friendships, while often developed online and inside, can increase time outdoors and improve wellbeing.
- My wedding was officiated by one of the staff from the first Laclede’s LAN I attended.
- I went on a road trip to meet some of my Warcraft guild members at a wedding of our raid leader. The bride and groom spent a rather significant amount of time with our table and many of us had never met in person, only through an online game.
- I’ve learned more about how non-profit organizations and boards function and been a part of numerous team-building events due to my involvement with Laclede’s LAN.
I could continue, but the point of this blog post should be clear by now. The older I get, the more I value the memories of laughter, all the adventures, and incredibly close friendships I have been blessed to develop through my Laclede’s LAN community. Connect with others through your passion for gaming and we can continue to enrich each other’s lives for decades to come.
Adam “ACE” Kruger