BYOC Lan Party at PAX 2008


Party within a party

Just off the show floor, past the bands signing memorabilia on the sky bridge, you will find the B.Y.O.C. Room.  This is a room where you can Bring Your Own Computer.  Get it?  Great.  For a few dollars more after general admission, you can lug your computer up to this room and play LAN or alone at your leisure.  And don’t worry about your equipment being stolen.  The 6′ plus “Enforcers” will ensure that your baby will never leave the floor via thieves.

In fact, even we couldn’t get in without an escort.  So after a little talking we managed to rope one of the hulking guards into giving us the dime store tour of the BYOC room.  As we walked and took pictures and video-taped, our friendly escort clued us in on a few of the inner workings of the room that even the press has a hard time getting through to.

As I walked across the expanse of BYOC, I noticed that all the computers on the right side of the room were the same.  I asked the escort what the heck was going on.  He told me that all the computers on that side of the room, around 340 of them, were provided by Intel for the extent of the weekend.  The other side of the room was where all the patron’s computers were set up.  As a registered BYOC badge holder, a person could bring their desktop or laptop and have a place to connect to wireless broadband or hold small LANs with others.

I was told that due to the large power consumption of the room full of PCs, around 700 of them in total putting out an average of 500 watts each, that a 4” power trunk had to be used in order to supply all of them with electricity for the 3 day event.  And even with though the air conditioning was turned up to keep the room a few degrees cooler than other rooms at PAX, the end temperature stayed relatively normal due to the large amounts of heat that the 700 computers were putting out.

And since PAX grows at an average rate of 50% each and every year, that number could jump to nearly 1000 BYOC users by the time PAX rolls around next year.  My enforcer was a little skeptical about giving away the information, but chances are very good that there will be some big changes for next year’s convention.

For the past two years PAX has grown at an alarming rate.  This year alone there were around 45,000 attendees roaming the halls and floors of the building.  And in the BYOC room, where some of the most aggressive gaming tournaments are held, the number of patrons increases dramatically when these tournaments begin.  And for the past two years these hardcore gamers have clamored for large video screens so that everyone could see the live action of the games.  Next year, they may get their wish.  The rumor going around the officials is that the BYOC will get moved to a much bigger room with a good possibility of live action tournament screens for the crowds to keep up with what is going on in the competition.

I had a feeling that this wasn’t the only thing planned for then next event.  But my escorts were uneasy about letting me know this much, and preferred that I just enjoy what was going on in the room then and there.  So keep your eyes out for BYOC next year.  If you already use it, be prepared for larger quarters and quite possibly a lot more entertainment from the back where the tournaments are held.

Don is an avid gamer, writer, screen writer,part time game maker, film director, and horror film fanatic. You can check out his book "How to Survive Zombies and Other Disasters" on Amazon.