Gamers united in Norfolk for the first time in a 26-hour event that featured five different video-gaming tournaments.
The Norfolk LAN Party began at 7 p.m. Friday and ran through 9 p.m. Saturday. Organizer David Kassmeier, a Norfolk chiropractor, said he wanted to bring something to the area that would involve gamers, a group of people not usually included in community events.
“We wanted to bring gamers out of basements and getting them to bond together,” Kassmeier said. “Norfolk’s growing, and we’re trying to bring some of the big-city activities to the area. We’re trying to bring exposure to the city.”
More than 50 people attended the 26-hour event at Stables Event Center at 1700 Vicki Lane. Teams of gamers competed on their own equipment in each three- to four-hour tournament, which featured Fortnite, Rocket League, Apex Legends, Madden Football and Call of Duty. Trophies were distributed to each winning team.
Nick Wildman, another organizer for the LAN party, said he and Kassmeier chose the event’s games depending on popularity. Raffle prizes with donated headsets, keyboards and computer mice also were given out throughout the night.
All of the event’s proceeds will go to a local charity that has yet to be selected, Kassmeier said.
Norfolk native Hope Blomenberg came to the LAN party so she could stream the game Warcraft III with her brother, Matt, she said.
Blomenberg, who has been gaming her whole life, is part of a large international community that live-streams video game play. While some people stream as a profession, she does it as a hobby while attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“We just asked if we could come hang out and play Warcraft instead,” said Blomenberg, who streams under the name TheQueenHoHo. “I usually stream every night for a couple of hours. My brother found (this event) on Facebook and sent it to me, and it sounded super fun. I really like it; it’s a very positive environment.”
Kassmeier said he tried to mirror the weekend’s event after a LAN party that brought 600 people to Baxter Arena in Omaha last year.
The Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau granted Kassmeier $2,000 in September to help create the event and he hopes to host another one this summer, he said.
Jordan Burns, a senior at Wayne State College, said attending the Omaha event made him want to come to the Norfolk LAN party. Burns competed in two tournaments, and his team received second place in the Rocket League competition.
Staying up all night gaming isn’t hard if you’re passionate enough, he said.
“It’s just like staying up with your friends at home,” Burns said. “You get to come here and nerd out, talk to a lot of people. This one ran well, it’s really nice. It will definitely be bigger after a year, once word gets out.”