Organize a LAN Party
Edited by Batkingnz, Lynn, Eng, Alma and 1 other
A LAN party is a great way to get together with friends and enjoy your common interest - computers and gaming. On the surface, it seems as simple as getting some friends in a room together with your computers, but in truth, the reality is a little bit more complicated. To organize and host a successful LAN party, you're going to need some well thought out plans, and more than a little bit of equipment. Don't get discouraged though, it's not impossible, and the article below is going to help you see it all through.
Why Have a LAN Party?
If you're reading this article, you might be thinking "what good is a LAN party in this age, when we can play with our friends online from wherever we are?" If you're thinking that, then you've probably never experienced a LAN party. These parties are not just about the games themselves. They're a social get-together where you can discuss and enjoy all the geek things that you love. Gaming does play a large part though, and there's nothing like being in the same room with a bunch of friends and playfully trash talking each other while in game. A LAN party brings out the competition and the camaraderie between the players present and really brings multi-player gaming to another level.
Organize Your Participants First
Unlike most regular social gatherings, plus ones or uninvited guests can really mess up a LAN party, since space and availability of things like power and network can be limited. Confirm with everyone who is invited to make sure you can plan around your numbers, and don't over-invite. To keep things safe for your first party, 10 people is a good number. From there you can see if you are able to host for that number, and if it's possible to host a bigger party in the future.
Set a Time Frame
A LAN party isn't your usual cocktail or dinner party. You can expect it to last for 10 hours at the very least, with many LAN parties going over a 24 hour period. Just getting everyone set up can take a couple of hours, and that's if there are no tech problems. The best time to do it is on a weekend. Set a start time of 12 p.m. Saturday, running until 12 p.m. Sunday. People will generally turn up throughout the afternoon, which can alleviate any stress of getting everyone settled, and once they're out of energy they will slowly disperse throughout the next morning.
What Will I Need?
A Suitable Location
Assuming that you will have this in your home, you're going to need to make some space. If you have a den or second family room, this can be a good spot to put everything. Make sure that you clear out any unnecessary furniture and items that can get in the way. It's best to have a wide open space. If you have a garage space, this can also be used, just make sure it's clean, tidy and well ventilated.
Tables and Chairs
As the host, you are going to need to organize seating and desk space for your guests. Folding tables are an option (the kind that is used for dining at event receptions). You can usually hire these from party organizers and sometimes from your church or local community hall (chairs too). Dining type tables and chairs can be used for extra desk space and seating, but do this at your own risk as there's a possibility of damage from computers and screens being placed on the table top.
To get everyone connected you're going to need some kind of network, preferably with internet access. These days almost everyone has wireless, but at a LAN, serious gamers will usually want to use a wired network, especially because this helps with transfer speeds.
- 1A modem connected to the internet.
- 2A router to connect everyone else (You can have wireless but it's not necessary.)
- 3An Ethernet switch for those who want a wired connection to your network (It's best to make sure this is a gigabit switch for the best data transfer rates.)
This one is important because you're going to be pulling a lot more power than normal, even with as few as six people joining your LAN party. Here are a few pointers to make sure things run smoothly and safely.
- 1You shouldn't have any more than two PCs and two monitors plus accessories running from any single circuit. This will reduce the risk of a short in your fuse box.Don't overload your outlets.
- 2Try to use only one per outlet and it's preferable that the power strip has surge protection, as this will protect your equipment and your electrical circuits from damage if there are any problems.Don't daisy chain your power strips.
- 3If you have to run extension cables around the floor where people will walk, make sure they're tidy and people can see them. If there's more than one, use cable ties or duct tape to hold them all together.Keep the power strips out of the way by moving them under tables or even taping them to the underside of the tables you are using.
- 4You probably won't have enough power strips and extension cords available for all of your guests so it's a good idea to ask everyone to bring their own.
Food and Drinks
This one does depend on your audience, so it can be useful to get an email trail or a Facebook group going first, so you can all discuss your preferences.
- Standard fare at a LAN party is usually potato chips, sodas and energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster.
- Alcoholic drinks are also common, but it depends on the people attending (and your age of course). It's a good idea to have a dozen popular beers on hand like Miller, Coors or Budweiser, just in case.
- To split the cost, ask that everyone contributes in the form of either cash or by bringing certain items. Cash is easiest, because that way you can ensure you're going to have enough of everything. You can collect it in advance and stock up before the party date.
- Providing a regular meal is not really practical or expected at a LAN party, but you can cook something that's easy to self-serve. Preparing club sandwiches before the party and refrigerating them could be one option, with guests helping themselves throughout the evening. If you want to really impress and you have a slow cooker, you can prepare a chili or meat stew which can then stay heated throughout the party. It's also easy for guests to self-serve in disposable cups or bowls and eat with corn chips or bread. Whatever options you go with, practicality is key. Remember you won't all be sitting down to eat a meal together.
Tips, Tricks & Warnings
- If you're worried about a spike in your electric bill - and if there are 10 people or more, you WILL see one - then ask for everyone to chip in to cover the cost of the party. Usually $10 would be enough from everyone to cover it and is far below the entry price of most commercial LAN events.
- If you have any, set up some consoles at your LAN as well. Sometimes people want to take a break from their PC's, and consoles can be a good way to do so. If you have games like Street Fighter or Tekken with multiple controllers then it can also be fun to get a mini tournament going.
- Make sure everything is ventilated. Computers can produce noticeable heat so make sure that you have Windows open and fans around the space where you will be setting up. If you have air conditioning, be sure to use it. If you don't have enough fans for ventilation, ask around the group attending and see if you can get a couple of attendees to bring one along.
- Since sharing files and media goes along with a LAN, make sure you have everything you want to share in a shared folder on your PC and that you have added a password to your machine. This will prevent people seeing anything else that you wouldn't want them to see.
- If you have attendees who want to use wireless, make sure you know your wireless password. Alternatively you can set up a new wireless network specifically for the party; this way you won't have to give out your usual access information.
- Think about your neighbors. Be sure to inform them that you will be having an event and to let you know if they have any concerns during the party. Compared to a regular house party, a LAN party is often quite tame, but the noise levels can go up, especially during the excitement of multi-player games.