Sørlanet is a weeklong computer festival where people play videogames and congregate in a sleepless weeklong stretch. I got to visit it for a little bit when writing an article for it, and it was pretty awesome. This is the article:
Sørlanet: The Weeklong Computer Fest
Sørlanet is exactly that, a weeklong computer party. It is an entire week of gaming—no stops, no breaks. Well, if you are a hardcore gamer. Sørlanet was held in Grimlehallen during the fall vacation this year, and it can’t be called anything except organized chaos. It is organized because there were some permanent fixtures in the form of large computers, booths, and a stage in the corner, and chaos because of everything else. Because really, how can energy drinks and music wars and kids collapsed on keyboards be anything but chaos?
So, people came to Sørlanet to play games. It’s something they can do at home, in the comfort of their blankets and maybe a small group of friends in their own time. Why come to Sørlanet where they have to spend their money on something they could otherwise do for free? People came to Sørlanet because it has more then just an epic conglomeration of people gaming, and the fact that they can actually see each other’s faces when they aren’t entranced with their computer screens. Sørlanet is host to a slew of competitions—gaming, creative and otherwise—that like Simon Eriksen Valvik, the organizer for Sørlanet said, “are an important part of this event. They make people more engaged, and attract more experienced gamers to the computer-party.”. There were competitions for World of Warcraft and other multiplayer games, and there were actual prizes at the end of the rainbow. Or that’s what the world would look like after they looked away from their computer screens. There were also creative competitions, such as a “best desk” competition. People decorated and showed off their homemade computer stations decorated with energy drinks and Christmas lights. There were also computer competitions dealing with programming and hardware setup, which held the possibility of more than just monetary rewards. Some businesses are searching for future employees through events like this, and a week of fun could end up a possible future for some lucky (and smart) individual.
Concerts, Free Trials, and Speeches
On top of competitions, there were other events going on to keep people amused. The reason for this is because, according to Simon, “The alternative entertainment makes Sørlanet a place for everyone. It creates an arena for learning, and possibilities for development.” It allows the Sørlanet-goers to experience activities and events that they wouldn’t have been able to see from the worn our couches in their livingrooms. World of Warcraft offered a 14 day free trial– which resulted in many of the people playing it for hours on end– and different concerts took place on the stage in the corner. That stage was also host to a lawyer talking about the ills of illegal downloading. This was apt because the people who go to computer parties are most likely the ones who are illegally downloading. Not that the lawyer could do anything if any of the participants was illegally downloading in front of him—now that’s irony. Finally, there was a stand by the entrance for the University of Agder, which was meant to get in touch with people considering pursuing computer or engineering degrees. Not that people were thinking about college when surrounded by games.
For the people who weren’t hardcore enough to fall asleep at their keyboards and not change their clothes for a week, there were rooms separated from the main hubub of activity to give their eyes, ears and brain a rest. As Simon Valvik said, “The chill out zone was a great success, and was very popular.” There was a separated sleeping zone with beds and sheets in a jumbled mess made from people who clearly didn’t want to take the time to make their beds, and the changing room was in a similar state. The provided “chill out” room was desolate except for a group of kids playing guitar hero in the corner, their eyes glued to the screen. The majority of people were in the main room gaming, enjoying their week off. That’s what everyone said, after all: “We’re here for the games.”
So, Sørlanet was a hit. People got what they came for: a place for weeklong gaming. But, in the end, it was also “Social, instructive, and exciting”, and due to this, it is sure to grow even larger next year.