Let’s be honest: We all love our broadband connections. I love being able to play online from my couch, but there’s a certain glee that comes from being able to reach over and smack a buddy in the back of the head for that last headshot. Force feedback, if you will.
The only problem with the spread of high-speed Internet is we lost a part of the geek landscape: LAN centers. These were shops or cafes set up so that we PC gamer types* had a place to play with all our friends.
Well, for those of you who’ve missed having a place to go with your PC gaming buddies, or those who’ve never had the experience of LAN gaming in person, Good Games is waiting for you.
With locations in downtown SLO at 883 Marsh St. and in Santa Maria at 1777 South Broadway St., owner David Larson is reminding us that “gaming” and “consoles” aren’t joined at the hip.
A friend from New Times had been telling me about this LAN center for a while now, and after missing two man dates (stoopid bronchitis) I headed downtown to check this place out.
The first thing I noticed was the lack of feuding Korean Starcraft guilds knife fighting out front. Marking that in the “probably for the best” column, I wandered inside.
The drill is, you pay for your time ($4 an hour, $6 for two, $20 for all day, although they kick you out after 12 hours) and pick a username.
“Wait. I have to say my username ... out loud? Buy me dinner first at least?”** Blushing, I muttered my handle, and then headed over to a PC to wait for B to show up.
All the great multiplayer games are available to me: L4D2, BF2, Starcraft II, Portal 2, and what do I fire up first? Counter Strike. Hey, the place has me in nostalgia mode.
After I died quickly a few times, B showed up with a friend, and it was Starcraft II time.
I haven’t played Starcraft II in a while, and it showed when I managed to set a record for quickest death 30 seconds*** into a co-op game. The guys were gentle, and we re-started. This time, it started coming back to me, and I was starting to feel pretty good about myself.
Then I glanced over at B. And winced. His buildings were lined up with disgusting neatness. Mine looked like they’d been flung across the map by a half-blind drunken architect.
The guys managed to eke out a victory against the computer (no thanks to me and my straggling troops) and I basked in the glow of a multiplayer game that doesn’t involve my parentage being called into question.
I had to leave before I really got a chance to hunker down and get into it (work night after all), but this was by no means my last trip to Good Games; I still haven’t smacked anyone in the back of the back of their head yet.****
* We were playing Counter Strike and Starcraft online before Xbox Live was a gleam in Balmer’s eye.
** Think about it; when was the last time you uttered your go-to gamer handle out loud? It’s like baring your soul.
*** OK, it was more like 5 minutes. Still, in co-op? Noob.
**** Legal-ese: Neither I nor New Times are in any way condoning head-smacking in a place of business. Or knife fighting.
Nicholas Walter’s ambition is to be the head of a feuding Korean Starcraft guild. Contact him via Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach at firstname.lastname@example.org.