The first Command and Conquer and Red Alert LAN party. The first console game (Goldeneye) we used carboard and blankets to sub-divide the screen to create a LAN like scenario, so other couldn't narily be called a "screen-watcher," even though you'd always staunchly deny that you did. Or the first Halo Party where unknown high-school randoms became best friends for life, many of which are the closest long lost friends we have. This is what is missing in my life. Were we better off with LAN parties?
I've realized that what draws me to Giantbomb, and to youtubers like Simon and Lewis Yogscast, or TotalBiscuit and Dodger on The Game Station, or countless others, is that it represents something that's been missing in my life for quite some time. The ability to come together and enjoy video games, which is something that surely becomes increasingly difficult as we grow older, and even more difficult since multiplayer became viable over the internet. But, there's one thing that I don't have after hours of gaming with friends over the internet... memories.
When I would play with friends via LAN, we would create countless memories. Many of these memories, if you're like our crew, we still recount to this day, a decade later. Yes, a decade later. Actually more like 15 years later, or longer if we're going back to Win95 days. But when gaming online with my brother, or best friends of yore, when I turn off my console to go to bed, or wind down, I feel as though I don't know them. It's superficial.
Gaming online also isn't nearly as fun. I recall yelling between rooms. Room bombing in underwear. Reminsciing over beers. Talking trash between games. Building intense rivalries. When playing online, I've realized that the only nemisis I have... is myself. Yes, I'm fighting random strangers in whatever random multiplayer game that I play, but I realize that much of my frustration comes from my expectations to become better than my performance the previous night, or even the previous game. Expectations of myself, unmet, creating frustration, my greatest nemesis. Whereas my greatest nemesis before was growing rivalries with actual people, that would soon become the very people that a decade later I would pay special visit, hours out of my way in some cases, to visit and converse over lunch or dinner.
So, that all being said... when I realize why I'm "anti-social" by today's standards... I've realized that I'm the same as I was a decade ago. The only difference though, a decade ago I played the games I still enjoy today, with real people, real friends, living real life together, sharing real stories, face to face and eye to eye, sharing laughter. Were we better off with LAN parties I ask? Yes. Yes I do believe we were.