Game Boys

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Sander, who put up money to buy networking cables and power strips, isn't sure how long he can keep going. Each party, Sander's job is to "collect the money" and "be the responsible adult." After eight of them, the 36-year-old acknowledges the customer base is elusive. Few kids know the others by more than a handle, and most are so paranoid or secretive that they refuse to give Sander even an e-mail address.

"It's an expensive sport with kids who have no money," Sander says.

"That's not a very good demographic, is it?" I counter.

"Yeah," Sander replies, walking outside into the balmy evening to get away from the ceaseless sound of gunfire, "I've slowly found that out."

It's 10:20 p.m., and LAN party aficionado Peter Willis has had enough. He places his mouse, speakers, and headphones into a backpack, then slides the keyboard into the rear net pocket; it sticks up above his head like a Samurai sword. "As LAN parties go, this wasn't that great," he snorts in disgust. Because of the Event's server limitations, only one game could be played at a time. To Willis, that's a recipe for a loser LAN party.

Katona walks over to say goodbye. "You should play with the full version of the games," Willis says. "The demo versions are limited. You can only play one map."

"Well, you know, it just takes so long for everybody to install the full version," Katona explains.

Garcetti walks up to the mike as Willis picks up his computer. Ten gamers remain. "Is everyone ready for Icy World?" he asks, then looks around. "Icy World! Icy World! Icy World!"

Willis shakes his head loathingly. "Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike," he says, just before pushing the door open on his way to the parking lot. "Everybody wants to play Counter-Strike."

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Trevor Aaronson
Contact: Trevor Aaronson