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How To Setup a LAN Party (Page 1/4)

Posted: August 10, 2000
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy


What is a LAN party? Newbies may not know, but full-blown gamers should know that a LAN party is when a bunch of nerds people get together and play computer games using a local area network. LAN parties usually consist of junk food, several computers with network cards, and of course, plenty of games.

A LAN party really only needs to have two or more people, but speaking from experience; the more people, the better. I've been to a five person LAN party and it's somewhat boring. But when you're at a 20 person LAN party, even boring games are fun to play because the whole house (or whatever) is involved in the same gameplay. This guide will help you make sure everything is good for a successful LAN party and it will help you ensure that a LAN party keeps the LAN'ers happy and willing to come back.

LAN parties are great places to meet people... and then kick their asses at Counter-Strike.

Choosing a Location

Before you work out the details of your LAN party, make sure to find the perfect location. Consider the following questions (makes a handy checklist!):

-Accessibility: Is the house easy to find? Is it within reasonable driving distance of everyone's house? Is it easy to get computers in and out of? Is there adequate parking?

-Noise: Do other people live in the house? Are they going to be angry if people are playing games, yelling, and screaming at 4 in the morning (no matter how mellow the crowd is, LAN party always gets crazy at parts)? What about the neighbors? If the houses are close together, the neighbors might be rather angry. Also keep in mind, sometimes arguments and vulgar things are yelled out at LAN parties (well, good ones).

-Space and size: You're going to need PLENTY of room. Just think how much room your PC takes. Now realize you won't need to bring your speakers (more on that later) or your printer, scanner, etc. But still, a PC takes a lot of room and you'll need to have room for everyone's computers and somewhere to sit.

-Food source: An important item to consider is if there are restaurants or mini-marts (24 hour stores are optimal), etc. in the general area. Most likely, you'll make at least one food trip during the night. Ordering pizza also works pretty well. Make sure everyone chips in on the bill so you don't get screwed. :)

-Music: Adding music to the environment helps to keep things interesting, even during setup and those awkward moments. When things are silent, LAN-party goers get bored and possibly sleepy. If they're sleepy, they'll either crash at your place or they'll leave! Remember, a laptop can be used as an MP3 box, pumping it through speakers (hopefully other than those supplied with the laptop). If you don't have a notebook or an extra PC for MP3s, use a boom-box or home entertainment center, if available.

-Dedicated Server: If 8 or more people will be attending the LAN party, it is highly recommended that you bring a server for the games. Dedicated servers lead to less lag. Without a dedicated server, someone has to host the games on the PC they play on, which leads to poor performance.

-Power: This usually isn't a major consideration, but you never know. Make sure there are plenty of outlets in the room(s) you're going to use and definitely make sure that everyone brings a powerstrip.

-Ventilation/AC: Ventilation and/or air conditioning are critical in even mild climates. 10-20 computers + 10-20 people + lots of excitement = very hot environment. Crank the AC is available, or use fans, open windows, doors, etc. to clear out the hot air. Garages seem to be very good for this purpose if the weather permits. Garages are great locations anyway, because you can be twice as loud with half the consequences and if you make a mess it's rarely a problem!

The smart guys just put wheels on their cases so they don't have to carry the heavy ass things all over the place.

When to Have a LAN Party

Since it's impossible to fit everyone in at the right time, people will likely complain. So the goal is to schedule the LAN party to fit as many people's schedules as possible. We usually have our LAN parties on Fridays or Saturdays. They often start as late as 7 PM or 8 PM and we usually play games until about 4 AM or 5 AM. By then, the majority of us are tired and either stay there and sleep, or drive home (be careful if you're driving home at 3 to 4 AM!). Make sure it's okay with the owner(s) of the house if people crash overnight, because usually someone will.

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