How to start your own LAN party?

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What is a LAN party? Most PC gamers know this already. A LAN party is a party where you play together with friends on a network with several PC’s at one place. The games you play are games you can compete with each other or where you can work together with each other.

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Some big organisers of LAN parties in the world, organise this in a huge hall or conference center. For these events you often have to pay to enter with your PC. These organisations plan their next party already a year ahead as it is extremely much work. Renting a place, getting hardware and software, getting sponsors, getting prizes, getting everything installed, getting things certified with police and fireman and security etc etc etc.

The big LAN parties often let you enter into contests where you can win big prizes and become a champion. They have all sorts of facilities such as sleeping places, a cinema, toilets, showers, First Aid, security personell, night and day security, ready paramedics and firemen and shops and catering. The biggest party in the world is Dreamhack that is being held in Sweden, see the intro picture. Dreamhack in Sweden helds over 20.000 gamers and is being held twice a year (winter and summer). The second largest LAN event is that of Norway – The Gathering with over 5000 gamers. More info about Dreamhack here.

We keep it today to the type that you can do at home with friends, less complicated and faster to organise.

Step 1. Get the equipment / save money for it

Plan that it will cost some initial money to get this going, unless you already have the equipment. If you don’t have the money yet, then try to collect some from your friends perhaps, if they just as bad want to have a LAN party I am sure they will share on the costs. Do know that when you have the equipment you can have as many parties with the same equipment. What you will need is a Switch or Hub. Switch is more common nowadays and much better for playing on the same network with eachother and using the internet. Next to a switch you need a certain number of UTP cables. Cat-5 (that’s a name for the standard that tells how the cable is build up and how well shielded it is) cables will do for this. You need at least one cable that goes from the internet router to your switch and then for every person joining you might need another cable (unless they have themselves or unless they are all going to be on the WIFI. If you have a WIFI on your internet router than you don’t really need anything, but if you don’t than most new routers and switches are having this extra feature installed.

Step 2. Plan a date

Ofcourse it is smart to plan this a little in advance though, you will have to make sure all / most of your friends can join you on this LANparty. The more friends the more fun! Usually it’s best during the weekend when nobody has to go to work or to school. Even better in a holiday if you and your friends going to school.

Step 3. Figure out which games to play

Which games do you like best? They have to have the option to play “multiplayer” to be able to play them together. Some games work only online, some work only local and some/most work on both. In case of online games, you have to make sure that the internet is connected to your network. See setup.

To give you an example of games: Worms World Party, Minecraft, Call of Duty, Counterstrike etc.

Step 4. The day itself: setup

If you have no WIFI at home, you will require some technical knowledge as to how you connect this up. I still de-advice WIFI for network and internet gaming. It just is less stable for fast paced action and it cannot handle the data so well. Especially when you have a cheaper brand card there exist more problems.

Generally there is one cable going from your internet source to either port 1 or port 8 of your router/switch/hub. I think HUB isn’t something that is used anymore nowadays, so a switch or a router will do.

All PC’s need to be connected to this router/switch on the other ports.

In case you have internet installed than most networks nowadays assign local IP addresses to all connected PC’s automatically. If you have bought a router than this one will provide that to the connected PC’s when configurated properly. This is beyond the scope of this article though.

Have the PC’s in one room if possible, have tables and chairs ready for your friends so they can install their machines and play. Make sure there is enough power cables etc available and accessible for every table too.

Step 5. Other places:

Make sure you have drinks and snacks and put them in a seperate room. The kitchen is a good place for this. The good thing of seperate rooms is that you will have to move to get it. The second good rule is to not have food and drinks near any PC. This prevents accidents and it will provide you with much needed social activity other places.

Also have sleeping places ready if you have them staying for the whole weekend. Unless people play on all night (this happens a lot too), people like to crash down for a good night sleep sometime and don’t want to fiddle with bedding at the early morning.

Step 6. Receive your friends, help them connect and have fun!

Don’t forget to go to the toilet, eat and drink and do some social activities such as frisbeeing or soccer outside. The advised max time on a PC is two hours, before a much needed break should be taken.

NB: If you own TV consoles, then you should consider spending some time together on the sofa playing party games on a console. Consoles are for the more interactive social gameplay.

Above all: Have fun!

Game on!

Steven

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