The idea for QuakeCon originally came from an internet chatroom between fans and developers who wanted to play iD Software’s games together.
As detailed in issue 227 of Retro Gamer, QuakeCon was born in an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) room in the early 90s. Run for fans, by fans, the iD Software specific chat room was mainly used for people to discuss the likes of Doom and Quake during the early years of the internet. However, what many fans didn’t know back in the day was that developers from iD Software – such as John Romero and Christian Antkowoften – often lurked in the chat and sometimes even talked with players.
“It blew people’s minds,” long-time fan and chat room moderator David ‘Wino’ Miller says. “Somehow it got out that the developers hung out in that channel and it blew up from 100 to around 1,000 people just waiting to hear a developer jump in and say something about the game.”
This, according to the Retro Gamer story, is how QuakeCon initially got its start. Following the IRC room popularity, it was suggested that Quake fans should organise local area network (LAN) party – which, for those of you too young to remember what a LAN party is, was simply just an in-person get together to play games online via dial up – which is how the first QuakeCon was born back in 1996.
The first ever QuakeCon took place in the La Quinta Inn in Garland, Texas, with around 40 attendees. Which is quite the jump considering the last in-person QuakeCon – held in 2019 – instead featured more than 10,000 attendees. David, who with a few others organised the first event, reminisces in the Retro Gamer story explaining: “I didn’t think a lot of the hotels knew what we were asking for and what kind of power issues we needed.”
According to David, “the network was not a sophisticated network. Before ethernet became the standard, we had a different one called BNC. The problem with that network is when one person disconnects from it, the whole thing goes down. Games would stop. Tournaments would die. That happened a couple of times during the event.”
You can find out more about the history of QuakeCon in issue 227 of Retro Gamer – pick up the latest issue of Retro Gamer here (opens in new tab).