By Leslie Radford: Freedom Newspapers
It all started with pinball machines and Atari in the mid-1980s. Then Nintendo in the early ’90s. And when he graduated high school, his “addiction” progressed to personal computer games — Noel Hailey was hooked on video games.
“My dad got me started when I was four years old playing pinball at the laundromat,” Hailey said. “Then we got an Atari and he played Pong all the time.”
The love for games inspired the now-25-year-old Hailey and a couple of his buddies, Mike Delgrosso and Jonathan Apodaca, to form a gamer’s group. The trio met each other in Clovis at what is called local area network parties a few years ago.
“(LAN parties are) just something for a group of people with an interest in gaming to get together and play games,” he said. “We hunt down a building to rent and network some switches so everyone can bring their own computers and play against each other in the same place. Usually we start around noon on a Saturday and wrap up about 7 a.m. the next morning.”
LANs are popular in larger cities, said Howard Blake, owner of Cyber City, a gaming center in Clovis that opened earlier this month.
“It’s nice for gamers to be able to come here and use our equipment that is already networked,” Blake said. “It saves them a lot of time and hassle with using their own machines and software.”
Blake said Cyber City offers a place for young and old alike to share their passion for gaming.
“We have fathers and sons come here to spend time together. We also have lock-ins where parents can drop off their kids and they’ll stay up all night and play games and eat pizza,” Blake said.
Cyber City offers 30 Dell computer systems, X- Boxes on big screen TVs, Steel Battalion on a projection screen, and yes, even Dance Dance Revolution — technology Hailey and his club can appreciate.
“This will help us bring more gamers together because some guys feel like their computers are (inadequate) compared to other gamers,’” Hailey said. “Plus some of the younger guys simply can’t afford the software or whatever it takes to participate in LAN parties and this is a place they won’t have to worry about anything like that. Everything anyone needs is already there.”