The Value of Organized LAN Parties

December 6, 2008

Today I was invited to a general purpose gaming event. There were some XBox 360s and Wiis, the usual suspects. I suppose this was not a LAN party in the purest sense, but what I am writing about certainly applies to LAN parities as well. What I am about to explain is from experience gained over going to different LAN parties and gaming events over the years.

Step 1: Decide who you want to invite. This is probably the most straightforward step and truthfully there isn’t much to mess up here. However it is still a consideration in the overall process.

Step2: Decide what games you want to play. This means several things. The first is that you want to select games that you KNOW everyone is going to WANT to play. Depending on your setup and the amount of people you have this may need to involve some compromise.  This is where I think a lot of events of this manner fail. A lot of time is wasted when people get there and complain because they don’t want to play game x or game y. If you decide in advance that you will be playing games x and y then they have no right to fuss and you can get on with gaming.

Deciding on games is not easy everyone has their preferences and you need to be mindful of that. It might mean not inviting the guy “who only plays FPS games” to the LAN party where you want to play WarCraft III the entire time. Either that or you play FPS games part of the time and RTS the other time, which I think is the better solution since it doesn’t exclude a potential friend and fellow gamer.

Also, I think gamers should be open to playing games in more than one genre. The largest problem we find here is that everyone wants to play within the genre they are best at. You can’t always have this! Sometimes you need to play the games you aren’t going to dominate at and who knows… you might get better!

Step 3: Set a schedule for when to play each game. This doesn’t mean you have to adhere perfectly to your schedule, but it helps put down the person who is always saying: “When are we going to switch games!?”. At least with the schedule you can simply let them know that you will switch at 4pm or after dinner or whatever metric you use.

Step 4: Download all patches and game updates BEFORE EVERYONE GETS THERE. This is critical because modern games all want you to have the same versions of everything. No one enjoys spending 3 hours waiting for patches and updates to be downloaded. It is best to just download them all and place them on the network somewhere so when everyone gets there they can easily get all the important updates.

Step 5: Make sure your network is functioning. This way when people arrive you can blame them for not being able to connect 😉 . In all seriousness it is a good idea to make sure you will have enough IP addresses/ports for everyone and that your router is assigning IP addresses correctly.

Step 6: Enjoy the party! Order some pizza and bring over the caffeinated beverages and let the party begin 🙂 . The extra planning can go a long way to make the party run smoother and maximize game time.

To summerize:

  1. Decide who to invite
  2. Decide on what games to play
  3. Set a schedule for all the games
  4. Download patches/updates
  5. Check network functionality
  6. Enjoy!

I hope this helps people plan some killer LAN parties. It may seem like a lot of extra effort, but when a LAN party runs smooth it is well worth it!