I was speaking to one of my friends this weekend about Guild Wars 2 releasing, for those who pre-purchased it, on August 25 and me having other plans that day which I can’t change. His suggestion was to bring my computer and set up a LAN party. While this won’t be feasible because of where I will be, it did make me think “how do you host a LAN party?” So here are some tips I found, in case you want to have one yourself.
1) Decide how big you want your party to be – Are you looking for a small gathering or a big blowout? What you want makes a difference with exactly what you need to do before you tell everyone you are having this event.
2) Choose your location – Here is where the big or small party comes in to play. If you want just a few friends, you only have to worry about play space big enough for all of them. If you want to do a blowout, well you probably would need to rent a place. Keep in mind that if you only have a few friends space is still a concern as there will be the computers, keyboards (if they are not using a laptop), mice, possibly a mouse pad, and a place to put any refreshments during gameplay.
3) Make sure you have all the technical equipment you need
b) A network switch with enough ports for each player, or you won’t be able to support everyone.
c) Enough Ethernet cables to connect each computer to the others. This will make gaming with each other faster. Spares might be a good idea so you might ask your friends to bring extras; or just ask them all to bring their own to begin with. Wireless is actually a bad idea because it can slow the entire system down.
e) Extra fuses in case you blow one with all the computers connected to the same power circuit. Someone with knowledge on how to change them is a good idea as well. It might be a good idea to check out your electrical system prior to hosting a LAN party to make sure it can handle the number of people you want to play with.
4) Secure your network – You want your LAN party to be fun for everyone and run fast enough that you are satisfied. So make sure your network is setup so that only those with the code can access it. This also means you have to make sure you give each player the code when they arrive.
5) Inform your neighbors – Before anyone arrives, tell your neighbors you will be having this party. Gamers can, and usually tend to, get noisy while they are engrossed in their game of choice (or game of the moment). Voices can get raised in anger or excitement. Some neighbors might not appreciate that if they don’t know beforehand this is possible. If the gaming will go late into the night, close all the doors and windows you can and still be comfortable playing with everyone.
6) Cool computers are crucial – Make sure everyone has some form of cooling device attached to their computer so they will remain cool during gameplay. It would be very frustrating for one member’s computer to crash due to overheating in the middle of a mission. Extra fans around the gaming area might be a good idea too.
7) Refreshments are a must -Make sure all the players have enough food and drinks to sustain them throughout the gaming session. If you are hosting you should probably have some snacks available but also ask everyone to bring some to share. A combination of energy drinks, pop, and water will give everyone a choice but perhaps you should ask the other players to bring their own energy drinks since people have difference preferences and those tend to get expensive.
8) Take breaks – stop playing every so often to allow players hands, eyes, and backs to get a break from leaning over a computer screen pushing buttons and keys. Do something that doesn’t involve PC gaming at all (a round of truth or dare maybe).
9) Backup Plans are your friend – Make sure you have a backup plan just in case something completely unforeseen happens. Your Internet could go out or a storm could kill your electricity. You don’t want to have a bunch of bored gamers on your hands with all kinds of time to kill. If nothing else pull out some cards or a board game.
So now you know what to do. Of course if all this scares you, perhaps you should go to another LAN party first to see how they handle things, ask questions, and then apply it to your own party. Good luck and have fun.