Gaming enthusiasts can game all night at EastSide event

Nick Stroman
Last year was the first time the EpicLAN computer and XBox 360 gaming event took place at EastSide Centre. The event is organized by local resident Zack Peterson. This year’s event is from 7:30 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday.

EastSide Centre in East Peoria will be awash in a dizzying array of sound effects and screens Sunday, while serious competitors of every age converge upon the facility to take part in a gaming event expected to draw people from the tri-state area.

The East Peoria Intranet Competitive Local Area Network, featuring multiple games and tournaments on both computers and Xbox 360, is hosting an overnight event to share information, play for prizes, compete and have fun.

Organizer Zack Peterson, 19, said the idea to start a LAN in East Peoria came about from his own experience of hosting gaming parties in his basement and by attending events in nearby Peoria and Morton.

“I decided it would be cool to start another LAN party which would also cater to another group of gamers aside from the PC group — the Xbox 360 gamers,” Peterson said.

EpicLAN already meets every other month at EastSide, but Peterson said to throw together a LAN where more than 50 people would be coming to game for 12 hours was a new concept and took a lot of thought.

“We have been grateful that EastSide is allowing us to hold our events inside their facility, for if we didn’t have such a large venue, our future plans of expanding would not be possible,” Peterson said.

Peterson said there has been lots of interest in the Sunday event so far.

The first party attracted more than 50 people, and this year’s gamers are contacting Peterson from Iowa and Indiana.

“Central Illinois is also a good spot for LAN and gaming because of the crossroads we are at, between Springfield, Chicago and St. Louis,” Peterson said.

Participants must bring all their own equipment Sunday, including computers, monitors, TV and Xbox 360 game console, power strip and Ethernet cable.

Peterson said this is due to the cost allowances that come with a LAN supplying everything.

“A lot of people have their own setups, and just to set up the network and connect everyone together for us costs almost $1,000 out of our own pockets,” Peterson said.

Peterson added everyone must sign a waiver that states they are responsible for watching their own equipment.

“Usually, small local LAN’s don’t worry about it, but since we are looking to expand past the 100-person mark, we cannot be liable for people’s equipment,” Peterson said.

Peterson said EpicLAN currently boasts more than 80 registered members, and if membership increases, they would like to host an event in the future to benefit a non-for-profit organization.

Peterson said the tournaments are usually set up in a bracket style with double elimination, but they were “feeling crazy” for the February LAN and will offer a big prize for a gauntlet competition — an Antec 1200 computer gaming case.

“Gauntlet-style tournament is basically a multiple game playoff, where depending on how you place in each game, you get points. We total the points up after all the games have been played, and the person with the most points wins,” Peterson said.

Peterson said the overnight lock-in concept was not one the organizers could argue, as EastSide wanted to let them have the building to themselves and get the event under wraps before the gym’s primetime workout hours.

“Majority of the gamers would say they stay up late because that’s when everyone can be online and game together. Personally, I game until between 1 and 3 a.m. because that’s when everyone is home and has time,” Peterson said.

Peterson added that while the event is designed as a lock-in, people are free to leave. The doors will be locked from the outside in, and an administrator can escort the gamer outside.

Peterson said he has been gaming since the days of console systems like Nintendo 64 and grew out of it when he realized computer gaming had more players and a higher competition level.

“Gaming has always been a big passion for me, along with computers and the way they work,” Peterson said.

Peterson is a computer science major at Eureka College, with a focus on programming.

He said while all of the administrators for EpicLAN were real-life friends before the network was created, gaming is a good way to meet more people.

“Gaming is a good way to meet people and stay social. Although most of the time you don’t have that face-to-face time, it’s still a great way to stay in connection with people,” Peterson said.

The EpicLAN at EastSide Centre will run from 7:30 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday.

It is open to all participants age 16 and older.

Registration at the door is $15 for one system and $20 for two.

For more information and rules, visit