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Post by Lawrence Eddy with Loa Angeles LAN Pros Corp
A LAN party is a gathering in which gamers (devotees of computer games) gather to share a local
area network (LAN) and participate in extended gaming sessions of popular games such as Quake, Doom, or Wolfenstein.
On a LAN, response time among players is much faster than the same interaction over the Internet, changing the quality of
the game. In addition, gamers have the opportunity to meet other participants in the flesh. LAN parties range in size from
a few players getting together in a private home to gatherings of over a thousand players converging to participate in a large
Large LAN parties often attract corporate sponsorship from hardware and software vendors.
One of the largest
LAN parties is QuakeCon (for Quake convention), which began in Garland, Texas in 1996 with 150 gamers in attendance. QuakeCon
2002, held in Mesquite, Texas (home of id Software, developer of Quake) attracted about 3,000 players from all over the world
attending the four-day event. In addition to the usual conference fare of workshops, discussions, and seminars, QuakeCon 2002
featured: a cash-prize team tournament area; a sponsorship area, where vendors showcased their products; and a B.Y.O.C. (Bring
Your Own Computer) area, where some 1300 participants plugged their own computers into a network to compete.
Decide how big your LANparty will be.
You can probably host a smaller LAN party (6-16 people) with equipment you already have. For larger LANs (16 or more people)
you may need to buy/rent more equipment.
The other limiting factor is the venue. A good way to gauge how much room
you will need is to plan for 2 people per 6-foot table.
A large LAN will require a good staff and a considerable investment.
Find a venue. The garage is perfect for smaller LAN parties.
You can usually fit about 20
gamers in the average size 2-car garage.
If you need more room, start looking for large meeting halls. Try asking around at local colleges, churches, Elks lodges, and other public spaces.
free space is best, but if no owners are willing, then a hotel meeting room may
be your best option. It can cost a lot of money, but they will be able to provide
you with reliable power, air conditioning, and even tables and chairs.
Acquire all the necessary networking equipment. You will need at minimum a router (ex: Linksys BEFSR41 or D-Link EBR-2310). Most routers only have 4
network ports, so if you plan to have more than 3 people over, then may also need a switch (ex: Linksys
EZXS16W or D-Link DES-1024D). You should have 1 network
port per person.
10/100BaseT equipment is more than adequate for gaming,
although gigabit speeds are nice for fast file transfers. However, if you want to save money (and who doesn't?), you can find
cheap 48-port 10/100 switches on eBay. The switch
plugs into the router, and all the gamers plug into the switch. Some network guidelines depending on the size
of your LAN party follow:
Up to 10 PCs - You will
need a network card for every PC, a small 100BASE-TX Ethernet switch, and at least
2 100BASE-TX network cables; you may be able to purchase a network starter kit.
- 40 PCs - Get 100BASE-TX switches with enough ports for all your guests (or multiple switches with linkup ports) and enough
cables to connect the computers to the switches. To save time and headaches, ask guests to have their network cards installed and configured and TCP/IP protocol
installed before they show up.
They should also bring their own switches and cables, but you should have
some extra just in case.
41 - 200 PCs - In addition to the previously listed
equipment, you will need switches (preferably 10/100, at least one port for each 40 people) and dedicated servers in order
to avoid a lag.
Consider running all your servers on 100 Base-TX, or a gigabit network.
Acquire all the necessary power equipment. If you overload your circuits, the circuit breaker will trip
and the pressure will be on for you to fix it on the spot. The best solution is to be prepared.
hosting in your garage or house, you
will need extension cords to run from electrical sockets around the house. This is because you can only plug so many computers into one circuit.
To determine which sockets are on which circuits, you
will need to go out to the circuit breaker box. If you are lucky, then the circuits are labeled. If not, you will need a 2nd
person in the house who can tell you which room's lights go out when you flip off each circuit.
If you are at a
hotel venue or using a generator (see Tips), you will be provided with distribution boxes, which have multiple 20 amp circuits.
A good guideline is 4 gamers on a 15 amp circuit and 6 gamers on a 20 amp circuit. Run extension cords to each table to evenly
distribute power, and make sure the gamers know which plug they should plug into.
It's a good idea
to check every circuit and map it out on a piece of paper, hand out a copy to everyone, and label each outlet. Be
careful with refrigerators and air conditioning being on the same circuit as PCs. When their compressors turn on, they draw
a lot of power.
seating. For a small LAN, your dining table and desk may be all you need.
For a garage LAN, you may have to rent some folding tables and chairs. Your local party rental store will be able to help
you out for less than $100.
6 foot tables are the perfect size for 2 gamers. 8 foot tables can fit 3 gamers with
a bit of a squeeze. As already mentioned, hotel meeting rooms will have tables and chairs already available for you.
Autonomous LAN Party tournament screen.
which games will be played. Choose a variety of game styles (FPS, RTS, Racing).
Keep in mind that choosing
only the newest games will alienate gamers with older PCs. If you are planning a tournament, decide the game, format, rules,
and maps. You may want to run software like Autonomous LAN Party, which helps
you track the tournament ladders.
up dedicated game servers. Most games today will benefit from having a dedicated server, even running on a modest
PC. Search the internet for configuration files, and get everything installed and tested. Learn server commands. You don't
want to be setting this up the day of the LAN.
Plan activities besides gaming. No one can sit at a computer for 24 hours straight (...at least they
shouldn't). Try classic LAN party games, like dodgeball, hard drive shuffleboard, and power supply chuckin'.
lunch and dinner plans. It can be as simple as ordering pizzas or a group exodus to a local restaurant. You could also plan a BBQ or hire a
Choose a date and other details. The
date may be determined by when the venue is available. For small LANs, try to make it at least 3 weeks in advance (2 months
for larger LANs) so people can keep their schedule open.
Get sponsored. It's surprisingly easy to do. Companies like Intel, AMD, nVidia, Antec, OCZ, Corsair, Alienware, and Bawls will send you small things
like stickers, posters, and t-shirts.
If your LAN is of a good size, you might be able to get some hardware to give away. Make it worth their while. Prizes can
make your LAN party more appealing, but they should never be the focus. You're there for the gaming!
Promote it. This is the most important step! Post in forums, list it on LANparty.com, LANparty Map, Blue's News,
and post fliers in the area. Have your friends tell their friends. Make it clear what time it takes place, what games will
be played, and what the person should bring with them.
A few days before the LAN, download the latest patches, mods, and maps for the games you plan to play. Organize them onto a shared folder on your computer or a dedicated fileserver. This way, gamers can update their games without throttling your internet connection.
You may even want to burn these files to CDs, to hand out to the LAN attendees.
Set up the room the night before the LAN.
Set up chairs,
tables and trash cans.
Prepare a sign-in sheet, and have assigned IP addresses next to each name. (assigned IPs
are unnecessary if you are running a DHCP server)
Print out hand-outs welcoming the guests and describing
some rules and guidelines.
Set up and connect your networks and servers, and test away.
big lan party
cool lan party time here....
more caffeine, the better! For 24 hours of this kind of thing, you're going to NEED a case of Monster, or a good coffee maker.
Hubs are no longer the fastest way to create a network; an all-switch network works the best. Hubs, generally speaking,
cause problems. (Nonetheless, the word "hub" is still often confused for "switch", even though they are
Once the party starts, greet every guest as they arrive and hand out printed instructions so they know what they're supposed to be doing and
Be prepared for power outages, tight spaces, and uncooperative guests--know how you will handle them in advance.
Keep the food and music in constant supply, empty the garbage cans, and take pictures.
Don't do it alone. Find people to help and delegate.
Although you shouldn't need to provide network patch cables and power strips for each gamer,
some one always forgets theirs. Always have spares on hand.
LAN party costs can quickly add up. Consider charging
an entry fee or asking for donations. You'll be more likely to host future events if you aren't losing money each time.
If you plan to
make your LAN party a recurring event, consider buying tables and chairs instead of renting.
If you're going to be serving alcohol
at the party, you may need a temporary alcohol permit. Look into your local laws and regulations.
If minors will
be attending the event, make sure they have parental permission.
You may want to consider using Gigabit Ethernet as most
gaming computers will probably have this type of Ethernet on the computer's motherboard. Also, to utilize this, you will need
to use Gigabit-certified switches, and Category-6 or Category-5e (supports 1000Mbps) patch cables.
Many larger cities
have LAN centers that will give special rates to large groups, allowing you to have a LAN party without any of the hassle.
Call the center near you in advance to make sure they have the games you want to play.
A P.A System always comes in handy to
announce winners and upcoming events.
let people plug into each other's power strips, or "daisy chain." It's a disaster waiting to happen.
When dealing with
circuit breakers, generators, or distribution boxes, you are dealing with high voltage. High voltage which can kill you! If
you are not comfortable with electricity, hire an electrician.
Keep the cables neat and out of the way. Otherwise,
someone is bound to trip on them. Consider taping cables down. Bunch groups of them running in the same area together really
tight, and put all the slack at either end. Then run strips of strong tape (gaffers/duct) perpendicular. If you're confused
about this, speak to a musician friend - it is standard practice to tape wires for sound equipment down, but computer power
sources are just as at risk of being pulled out, and rarely do people think to tape them down.
For larger events,
liability insurance is required. Even if you have gamers sign a waiver, you cannot make them sign their rights away. A few
hundred dollars of liability insurance is better than a million dollar lawsuit.
Unreliable power is the #1 LAN party
killer. People will be angry when their computer unrepentently shuts down. Make sure they are plugged into their designated
The hosts (you!) are responsible for any problems which arise, and they will arise. You may not
have much time for gaming, but that is your fate as host.
Unfortunately, theft is a reality at LAN parties.
Have only one entrance
and exit, and have someone there watching who comes and goes and with what.
Label anything that is not nailed down,
especially as the cost-to-size ratio goes up. (Your thumb drive needs a label, the tables probably not.)
Cheating Is a worry
also, so be sure to run an anti-cheat program on the Hosting server