How to hold a successful LAN party
Aug 17, 2008, 6:57 GMT
Berlin - Bertram Meyer leans over his desk and tugs at his computer's monitor cable. He disconnects the keyboard and packs up his computer mouse. A case of energy drinks are waiting in the hallway of his Berlin apartment. He packs a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and inflatable neck rest.
'I'm taking that along in case I get tired,' he says. The question of whether he'll sleep at all remains open, since Bertram is on his way to a network party. If everything has been properly organised, he'll probably have little down time - but all the more gaming fun instead.
The members of his gaming clan meet at odd intervals for some face-to-face computer gaming fun. 'Playing only online and without meeting the people in person is only half as much fun,' the 20-year- old says.
Yet the days of simply running a cable between the two computers are long gone. Even private LANs (Local Area Networks) are fastidiously planned out these days. The goal is to remove all distractions from an otherwise glorious weekend.
Professionally organized LAN parties in particular have made big strides in recent years. There are a variety of factors that can prove decisive for the success of these events. Participants nowadays expect a program of extracurricular events to help maintain the mood and attention span. These might involve football tournaments, hard drive discus throws, or keyboard puzzles, explains Josh Voegeding from Planetlan.de in Bochum.
There is no sure-fire recipe for successful LAN parties.
'You should start small and not try to do too much,' Voegeding recommends. The history of LAN parties is scattered with stories of organizers who had big plans but whose parties collapsed under the weight of their own expectations.
Visitors to LAN events often feel a tremendous urge to plan their own events. 'The most important thing is to leave yourself lots of time for organization,' says Voegeding.
Voegeding ticks off a few key warnings for new organizers. Among the worst mistakes at a LAN party is to allow cooking in the sleeping area, or forgetting to set aside a sleeping area, or generally not having enough space. Everyone experiences a certain amount of trial-and-error when organizing these events for the first time, though.
Bertram Meyer is unconcerned about the cooking issue. 'We unroll the sleeping bags wherever we are when we get tired. I don't care who's cooking what and where.'
As a LAN party visitor, Meyer is far more concerned with the organization of his own baggage. 'After all, I'm bringing all my equipment to every get-together,' he says.
The most important thing is proper transportation of the computer. 'The monitor should be in the original packaging and the games in their corresponding packages,' Voegeding says. There are special with straps for carrying large, heavy gaming PCs, quickly turning a PC tower into a backpack.
'Still, the current batch of high performance gaming computers can easily weigh in at 20 kilogrammes, so it's not necessarily the best choice for everyone's back.'
Kristian Metzger from the online site eurogamer.de has several clear tips for organizing LAN parties. 'High ceilings are mandatory,' he says. It's also important to contact the local fire department to find out how many visitors can safely fit into the selected party space.
Network setup should be left to someone who has real experience in the area, Kristian Metzger says. The LANs should also be set up with power to spare. A call to the local power company is not a bad idea - few things can bring a pitched network battle to a screeching halt more quickly than a power outage. But technology is not the only factor.
'It's also quite bad if the beer runs out - not to mention the almost primal importance of sanitary facilities,' Metzger says.
Bertram Meyer and his clan are unlikely to grasp much of the tremendous organizational effort behind the party, beyond perhaps noticing the lack of problems.
'Here's what's important for me at a network party: that we all have some fun - and that we end up winning,' Mayer says while sitting on a folding bench in an old railway station, plugging his monitor into the computer. It's unlikely he'll do much sleeping in the next 72 hours.