Have you ever wondered how LAN parties and events are put together? In this guide, we share some of our top tips for hosting your own LAN or tournament, and how you can make it the best it can be.
So, what is a LAN party?
A LAN (Local Area Network) party is where multiple people gather and connect several computers together in order to game together at the same time.
These gatherings became quite popular for gamers, as it was a way to play multiplayer titles without the need for split-screen gameplay, or a limit on the number of people playing at one time. LAN parties were popular before online gaming became the phenomenon it is today, and meant that any game could be played or shared between people at the event.
Probably the most notable LAN in the UK is Insomnia, and its BYOC (Bring your own computer) portion of the event. This gathering can bring in thousands of gamers, each with their own setups, to play together in this LAN setting.
Parties can have ten people or a thousand people, so there are endless opportunities to explore how you can rally your friends or teammates and organise your own LAN.
But, how do you go about organising a LAN?
There are many different things to consider when wanting to host a LAN party, and things can differ based on the scale of the event.
In general, you will need:
- A Wi-Fi router or hub
- A PC or console for each person attending
- An ethernet cable for each device if you are wanting a wired connection to the router
- The game (or games) you are wanting to play downloaded on each device
- Players (an obvious one!)
- Equipment for if you are looking to broadcast – Mics, speakers, webcams, etc. This is optional and not a necessity for a LAN.
Now you have your players and your kit, it is time to get set up.
Making sure everyone can connect to a server:
Now that all of your players are connected to the internet, you need to make sure everyone can gain access to the server you are wanting to play on.
There are two main types of server for LANs – online and local.
Essentially, online servers exist in games already, or are private for players to gain access to.
You are able to rent servers out for your event, and some games will have these available for you and your players to use.
Always check for each title first, and see if they have online servers available before organising the LAN – otherwise you may have to change to local servers at the last minute.
Local / Dedicated:
In essence, a local server is a program that runs from a computer at the event to list the rules and options for a specific game. It is a lot more complicated to set up, but can provide a lot more freedom once done correctly. These can also be referred to as dedicated servers.
There is a subtle difference between a local and dedicated server, and it involves if the device is being used to play whilst hosting or not.
Local – A player is hosting the server on their device, but is also playing on it at the same time.
Dedicated – A device that is solely there to host the private server, and it is not used for anything else.
Now you have decided on your server type, it is time to get your players together and set everyone’s devices up properly to ensure smooth running of the event.
Broadcasting the event:
If you are running a LAN or tournament, you may want to stream your matches for people to spectate online. It can get complicated as you need to have more machines running, but if done correctly can be very beneficial.
There are many ways to get a broadcast up and running, but one of the easiest ways to do it is to have dedicated devices for hosting the broadcast, and your talent. You will have one computer with an observer following the match, and this will also be the device used to connect to your streaming platform. From here, you can either have casters watching the games from the original device, or use a separate viewing space for them to commentate on the action.
There is not a correct way to set up for broadcasting, and it is one of those things that requires trial and error to find what works for you.
Online, there are several guides on how you can set this up properly, but this guide by WillStare gives a good overview on what you can do.
Having multiple electronic devices plugged in and running in a small space can present some health and safety issues if not done correctly.
It is recommended that each device has its own four-socket extension cord to plug in the computer/console, monitor, and anything else needing power. Extension cords are good because they are fused electronics, meaning that it will be a lot safer to run a lot of devices from. As well as this, using surge protected extension cords will make a world of difference if an outage were to happen – protecting the devices connected to it.
On top of this, keeping an eye on how much is plugged into one socket is key, and can prevent surges or even fires from happening.
Make sure you distribute the power properly throughout the venue to minimise the risks of any problems.
Now that you have everything set up, get your players ready, grab some snacks, and let the LAN commence.
This is a brief overview on how you can get started with your own LAN parties and tournaments, but it is always worth reaching out to others to get personal advice.
Are there any other guides you would like to see from us? Let us know on the British Esports Twitter.