[Today’s guest post comes from Evan Balko, content specialistEvan Balko for Concordia College, an avid gamer, and a co-organizer for the recent Games on the Plains event. You can find him running around at events with a camera hoisted up on his shoulder. Here, he shares some reflections on planning a successful gaming event, and why gaming is a communal experience.]


Games on the Plains

Multiplayer video games are a social experience. It can involve either working together to default a common enemy, or just clobbering each other. Either way, people love to play games. We love to compete and to cooperate. It’s in our nature as humans.

This is why, back in college, Jake Kohl and myself would attend “LAN parties.” It was a simple idea: bring your computers to a friend’s house to play video games. Gaming, pizza, friends – it’s a great time.

The idea for Games on the Plains came about frankly because we missed those parties. We thought – why not recreate it, but bigger and more community oriented?

So the planning began. At first we intended to rent out the Prairie Den on our own. But 702 Communications became interested in sponsoring the event, then Botlink as well. Before too long, we went from planning a small get-together to running a serious sponsored event. H2M took care of marketing including coming up with the name and branding for Games on the Plains, and local video game tournament group Iron Boots put together a Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart tournament.

Balko (left) and Kohl (right) carrying a whole backseat of Domino’s pizza to the event.

Epic Win

The day started out early at 7am with the main team gathering to move tables, bring in snacks, and run power and networking to get ready for the arrival of the game systems. The doors opened at 10am and by 10:30 the first guest arrived, carrying his own computer, ready for a day of gaming.

Before too long, a crowd was forming and more and more computers were being brought in.

Games on the PLains

Photo by Jake Kohl

We dramatically underestimated how many computers would be brought in, and ended up with five tables filled with computers. We hit our maximum attendance around noon, with over 40+ attendants in the room at once, right before the start of the Super Smash Bros tournament.

At one moment, there were four tables of computers going, with various games from Starcraft 2, Grand Theft Auto V, Cities: Skylines and Street Fighter V being played. Then over in the other side of the room was a Super Smash Bros tournament, and in the conference room was Rock Band 4. There was activity everywhere.

Why did so many people show up? It’s the same reason we go to movie theaters. People love to share experiences collectively, and video games are no different. Games on the Plains was just one big hangout session.

Throughout the day, we gave away prizes including Botlink t-shirts, Best Buy gift cards, and a 2TB Western Digital hard drive.

The event wound up at 10:00 PM, with the last of gamers packing up their computers and leaving.

Overall, Games on the Plains was an epic win.

Listen to a sweet podcast on the event by Corey Cliett, here!

Stay tuned for the next Games on the Plains event.

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Marisa Jackels