Into The Belly Of The Beast

nag lan rage 2013 room

I’d heard much about the NAG LAN at rAge. Having never seen it in person, I found it difficult to sort through the myth, legend and folklore surrounding this mysterious event.

Some have said a noxious gas lies over the area, ready to kill anyone who had not built up the appropriate resistances. I’d heard tales of unheard of internet speeds, people lying unconscious on the floor, brightly coloured LEDs pulsating through the night and many other unimaginable sights contained inside.

I spent the first day watching from a distance, observing, learning. But today, I couldn’t put it off any longer; I had to see it for myself.

As I walked into the LAN cage, I heard the security guard close the door behind me. She gave me a solemn look, and then continued to explain to some unfortunate souls at the entrance that they weren’t allowed out. I wondered whether I would be.

I circled the area slowly, keeping a wide perimeter, sniffing at the air cautiously. Deeming it to be safe, I took a deep breath and headed into the heart.

I was mostly ignored by the masses, who were too focused on whoever or whatever they were destroying in-game. Some were duelling on modest-looking laptops, while others had computer cases so large I doubt they’d fit into the boot of my car.

I saw some weird and wonderful computers as I walked between the rows of tables, such as this one:

I knew this guy was a winner when I saw him playing CoD4.
I knew this guy was a winner when I saw him playing CoD4.

And this one:

I'm kind of expecting it to transform into Bumblebee.
I’m kind of expecting it to transform into Bumblebee.

I managed to pull their attention away for long enough to snap a quick photo, starting to feel more at ease as I pressed on.

My sense of security was challenged shortly afterwards however, as I came across some of those weird and wonderful sights I had been told of.

I didn’t know quite what to make of this:

Is that... is that a wire connected to it?
Is that… is that a wire connected to it?

And soon found myself face to face with this:

An alien, I am.
An alien, I am.

Luckily for me, the lightsaber-wielding alien turned out to be a peaceful sort, and I managed to escape with my life. More than I can say for that horse.

Just when I was starting to get a little edgy, I came face to face with the best thing I saw all day. This guy:

What a boss.

Who cares if this is a PC LAN? All you need for a PC-free good time is a console, a TV, a stack of boxes, a plate of mini-doughnuts and a high speed internet connection. Here at NAG, we don’t discriminate.

I ended up hanging out with this guy and his friends for a while, and they were an awesome, generous and friendly bunch of people. I spent most of the time watching them play GTA V, where they’d formed a Mexican street gang whose only purpose seemingly was to charge around stabbing pedestrians until they were gunned down by the police. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t morbidly fixated.

It’s one of a few really awesome interactions I’ve had with total strangers, and really that’s what rAge is all about; having an awesome time.

Not only did I make it out of the LAN pit alive, I walked away with some new friends and some awesome memories.