Unique in history and format, the QuakeCon event is likened to a "rock music festival". A Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) LAN party is similar to the campgrounds at a large concert festival, where around 3000 gamers basically live for four days. During those four days, many events take place around the facilities to entertain attendees. A significant draw is the exhibit hall, where several dozen exhibitors demonstrate the latest technology and software surrounding the gaming industry. Accompanying the BYOC and exhibit hall are the world-class gaming competitions for both professional and amateur gamers, game development panels of industry luminaries, and a large event stage used for entertainment of all kinds—from press conferences, game announcements, to "what would you do" contests, comedy acts, and musical performances. In the "rock festival" metaphor, these are the various stages that provide entertainment throughout the event.
QuakeCon was started in 1996 as #quakecon, a gathering of fans that frequented the #quake Internet Relay Chat channel on EFNET. They chose a Best Western Hotel near the id Software offices, with the hope of enticing some of id's small development team to stop by. After hearing about the gathering of fans, and their need for some financial support at covering the expenses of the ad hoc network they had created at the hotel, John Carmack and many of the id developers went to the Best Western Hotel to help with the bill and talk about the games and what they working on next.
Since 1996, QuakeCon has continued to be held annually somewhere in the Dallas, Texas metropolitan area and has grown to over forty times the original size of the event. Many changes have taken place over the years, but a well defined set of "eras" emerges when summarizing the long history of the event.
The Birth of the LAN Party
In 1996, #quakecon is held at the Best Western Hotel in Garland, TX.; beginning with 30 people, it swells to 100 by word-of-mouth over IRC. Carmack delivers his first "talk" to the assembled fans, which evolves into an annual keynote on the state of the industry.
In 1997, QuakeCon is held at the Holiday Inn in Plano, TX with some fiscal support from id and Activision. An estimated 650 are in attendance and the event gathers nationwide press.
A lack of planning by the fan in 1998 leaves the event with an uncertain future. The Cyberathlete Professional League steps in to help, largely turning the event into a CPL branded event. Nevertheless, 800 fan attend, 300 of which bring their own computer.
The Golden Years
In 1999, a reinvigorated volunteer organization gets an earlier start on the event and id Software joins the effort as the primary sponsor and supporter of the event. This also brings QuakeCon to the Hampton Mesquite Convention Center, where it would grow from 1,100 in attendance and 500 BYOC spots to over 3,200 attendees and 1,300 BYOC spots in 2002. It was at the Hampton that volunteers of QuakeCon established the format of the multi-purpose event and the support from id grew into a partnership.
These "golden years" get their feel largely from the combination of favorable economic times (thanks to the Internet boom of the late 1990s); the manageably small, but rapidly growing size of the event; the casual relationship of prominent game developers with the fans; and the nearly perfect fit of QuakeCon to the event space. The QuakeCon event would book 100% of the rooms available at the hotel, and it was common to see hotel staff wearing QuakeCon t-shirts while on duty.
By 2003, QuakeCon had outgrown the Hampton Mesquite Convention Center and new venues were solicited. 2003 was held at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Dallas, Texas with an attendance of over 4,000 and a BYOC with 2,000 seats. Importantly, in 2003 id's support of QuakeCon became a much more fundamental aspect of the show. By necessity, securing some of the largest venues in Texas and the associated contracting and public relations just weren't feasible for the volunteer staff. QuakeCon moved to the Gaylord Texan Resort Hotel for 2004 and 2005, growing to 6,000 in attendance and over 3000 in BYOC spots.
The Modern QuakeCon
The growing pains of sizing up the event were largely addressed and QuakeCon struck an era of stability in format and management. At Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas in 2006, 2007, and 2008, and then at the Gaylord Texan again in 2009, QuakeCon grew to over 7,000 attendees.
A New Era
In 2009, id Software was purchased by ZeniMax Media Inc, ending almost 20 years as an independent game developer. With 2010, QuakeCon began a new era under a larger management structure and with new goals and leadership. With the largest attendance to date at over 8,500, QuakeCon is continuing to evolve... but where the new id will take it is yet to be seen.
"BYOC" LAN Party
The LAN Party (called the BYOC), holds almost 3000 gamers.
It is so big in scale, it has the following:
- 24-hour information desk
- 24-hour tech support desk
- It's own NOC (Network Operations Centre)
- Console Village! Community groups can set up their own console gaming areas. Support to be expanded in future events (assuming all goes well this year).
- and more...