|LAN Parties: How to Host Gamers and Have Fun Doing It 🙂
Hosting a LAN party is a popular gamer’s event, and for good reason. Gathering together a dozen or so of your friends, hooking up your computers, and preparing to challenge each other with magic, guns, armies, or just a few puzzles can be a fun one night event, or even an overnight party if the right preparations are made. The best ways to make sure that you throw a good party, though, are good planning, good organization, and good timing.
To throw a good LAN party, you will need several things beforehand. This overview will presume that you want to connect together computers for a party between ten and twenty people. The first thing you will need is a location to hold this party. Attempting to wedge all fifteen of your local game buddies and their attendant computers into your apartment is probably going to be difficult; it’s best if you try and find a space where each gamer can comfortably arrange his or her machine and monitor.
A minimum of twelve square feet of floor space per gamer will probably be necessary, even if compact, light machines like laptops are used. This covers seating space and a place to put a machine–more space will be needed to avoid having gamers bump into each other when getting up out of their seats, and if you want to allow for a refreshment table of some kind. Adjust accordingly based on the furniture you will have.
Also make sure that your space is well ventilated and well cooled. You and your friends will probably not enjoy the heat that a dozen or more bodies and computers can create in an enclosed space! You may also want to consider how loud you can afford to be in such a place. You nor your neighbors are likely to care for disturbance calls to the police.
Secondly, you will need the necessary equipment. Depending on the games that you will play, you may or may not need the most high end equipment, but you will definitely need a way to power the computers, link them, and if necessary provide internet access. Ensure that you will have enough power outlets at your location, or barring that, enough power strips to provide extra outlets.
Similarly, make sure you have enough cables of various types. The most likely one you will need is known as CAT5, which plugs directly into the network socket. If you have the option and your gamers are duly equipped, consider a wireless router for connection needs. While it can occasionally suffer from lag issues, even in a LAN, it requires far fewer cables (and thus fewer tripping/unplugging hazards). Also, make sure that you don’t plug too many plugs into one socket! That can short it out and become a fire hazard.
While it is probably not unreasonable to assume your gamer friends will have their own computers, headsets, controllers, and so forth, it would be wise to stock a few extra just in case someone doesn’t have them handy, or some break. Most of these will probably be USB or USB 2 in nature, but check for compatibility just to be sure Remember to mark your name on what belongs to you, and ask your guests to bring along their own equipment to set up at your gaming location if the option is available.
Food and drinks:
Since this is a party, you will probably want to have food and drinks there. The usual gamer staples of caffeinated drinks and snack chips would likely be welcomed easily, but consider some alternatives if you have the chance. Sandwich trays from larger grocery outlets are not a bad choice, but may run low if your guests have appetites. Flavored chips, while popular, can leave chip dust behind and cause a mess of keyboards and controllers. Try regular baked chips with dips instead.
It is well advised to provide napkins, paper plates, and plastic cups for the party. Check the price of snacks as well as bottled versus canned drinks to see what is most cost effective. Ensure you have an ice chest or a good refrigerator on hand. Some gamers will favor energy drinks, but remember that if the gaming goes on for too long, a caffeine crash can occur. If the party will last a while, it would be wise to buy cheap meals such as pizzas. If price is an issue, a small collection can be easily taken; some chains sell pizza for $5 each. A modest entrance fee can readily cover this cost as well as that of drinks or snacks.
Finally, consider your party time and games of choice, and arrange the atmosphere appropriately. If you are hosting a game session all night, for instance, be sure to provide good lighting from above and perhaps some places to relax or nap afterwards. Highly motion-intensive games will often leave guests with a case of ‘gamer pain,’ where their fingers or wrists may cramp. Hours in front of the screen can lead to headaches and eye strain. Take these potential pitfalls into account, and prepare remedies, medicine, and ways for your guests to take a break, such as a couch off to one side.
With all these things in mind, start organizing, setting up, and making calls–your party days (and nights) are set to go, and your guests will definitely have their share of fun! Game on!