Hardware and Gear

Published on July 10th, 2018 | by gareth


Make Dreamhack A Reality: Doing Your LAN Party Right!




One of the biggest events in the gaming calendar is, arguably, Dreamhack. And while there are Dreamhack events are all over the world, it’s an expense not many of us can justify. What’s the solution if you want to get a bit more social with your gaming? The old-fashioned LAN party. You might think that LAN parties are old hat, especially with the quality of supreme broadband connections now, but there’s a party with you and a select few, and a few of your favorite games. So, let’s revitalize this and let’s incorporate a little bit of that Dreamhack magic, so it doesn’t just consist of you, your buddies and a few cans of soda!

Get Organized First

Organizing is everything, because you don’t want the party to descend into utter chaos. As far as getting organized is concerned, you are best using a Google Form, so you can get the general consensus as to what games everybody owns, what they would like to play, but also what else they want to bring to the party. By getting a detailed list of what types of computers they own and the operating systems, this will help should any problems arise. There’s nothing more annoying than when everyone’s got together, but one issue with one person brings down the whole operation. On top of this, if you ask everyone to make a note of their online handles as well as servers on this form, this makes for smoother and quicker communication during the party. You want a good atmosphere, but you don’t want the annoyance of having to yell back and forth your Skype names! Once you’ve got all this information together, send out these forms to all of the guests, and ensure that everyone has the games, not just pre-installed, but patched up to the most recent versions. You want the party to be quick and smooth, and if you are waiting for people to install or configure specific games, this is going to be incredibly annoying, not just for you, but for everyone because that one person is chewing up all the bandwidth. On top of this, you need to ensure that every attendee has adequate security on their computer such as Lookout UK. This means having an updated antivirus package, but also running their anti-malware program before attending. If you can get as much information put onto the Google Form as possible, it means you have more time to enjoy yourselves. So, be sure they are adequately protected, but also, make sure that they have disabled all the software firewalls on their system, this will minimize connection problems during the party.

Ensure Adequate Power

If you’ve got limited power sources, and you intend on having everyone over, you might find that you will trip your electricity supply pretty quickly. You might think that you can get away with a very lazy setup, just as long as there’s a few plugs handy for everyone, but you are very much mistaken! The first thing you need to do is to look at your circuit breaker and see how much electricity can be supplied to each circuit. Once you know this, you can limit the amount of people coming to your place, especially if you were planning on having a lot of people come to your gathering. Generally, between 4 and 6 computers is all that one electrical circuit can cope with. But if you have more people coming with the laptops, there will be less of a drain on the power supply. If you are thinking, the more, the merrier, it’s best for you to invite laptop owners only. The big problem you have with every person bringing their home built desktops with the most hardcore of hardware will drain your electricity supply. So what is the solution? To make sure that you’ve got enough power, you need to use surge protectors. This helps to split the systems across many different circuits. If you are hosting LAN parties with a gathering the size of a small army, it’s important to have the fastest connections possible. Internet suppliers like Suddenlink are in abundance now to provide a fast connection, so you won’t have too much trouble. It’s handy for the larger parties to get a network switch. By adding this to your wireless router, you can and other connections to the same network. The switch, in essence, splits your router’s ports into as many different connections as the switch can support. Do you want to do any file trading at this party? If so, you may want to think about getting a gigabit switch. This will allow systems to share files as quickly as possible. Ultimately, it depends on the size off the party, as well as the games, but using one computer as a server is one of the most sensible ways to minimize excessive damage. Overloading your network can cause a lot of physical damage, which will most definitely put a dampener on your event!

Have The Right Software

It depends on the games you are going to play, but if you are looking to do some file sharing, to make things a bit easier, you can set up a shared folder on your network storage device or on your system for everyone to easily get what they need. However, this can be a bit annoying, especially if you are dealing with inexperienced gamers. You need an application to share files over your local area network, and there are plenty around, but D-LAN is a free one that makes it quick and effortless. As soon as every gamer installs the app, they can set up the appropriate sharing folders, grab other files, but also find other users. File sharing is one of those difficult things to police, especially if you have a large party, so it might be beneficial to put down a few ground rules, this includes using unauthorized file sharing sites like BitTorrent. You don’t want to be held accountable for any questionable content downloaded via your network, but you want to keep your connection as free as possible for any team games. 15 of the top business apps are also something you will want to consider using.

Adding A Few Extras

Now we’ve got all of the technicalities out of the way, what else can you do to ensure that it’s a memorable event? This is where good old-fashioned party planning comes into play. Gaming is a mentally exhausting activity when done right, so ensure that your guests have adequate snacks, especially if you plan on having a party that goes on all day and all night. The best way to minimize overspending from your point of view is to have each guest bring one thing. Naturally, when people bring one thing, it’s something that they want, so maybe it’s worth putting on the Google Form that it’s not just a chips and dip kind of party. Yes, you need the basic snack provisions, but maybe it’s worth bringing a few pizzas, chicken, and all the other good stuff! If you are trying to properly evoke the spirit of a Dreamhack event, it’s not just about the gaming; it’s about the whole atmosphere. Use your imagination! To maybe it’s time to go into cosplay areas, and have everyone come dressed as their favorite gaming character? From there, you can create more of a theme. While you might consider this to be a bit on the kiddies birthday party side of things, make it a bit more adult, or start to implement a bit more of the mature gaming themes. It’s not like everybody has to turn up dressed as Mario or Sonic, is it? But beware with every person turning up in their Master Chief helmet; it’s probably going to result in a lot of wall scrapes. Music is that the thing that you might want to consider to make it a bit more of a party and less of a gathering. While you don’t want the music to take over the ambiance, having some background music, especially good quality metal, will improve your gaming focus. So, you’ve got music, you’ve got a theme, and you’ve got food and the games themselves, anything else? Well, it’s not here to discuss the active tidying up after the party, because it’s going to be a bit messy, and you need to prepare yourself for this. If you never hosted an LAN party before, you might be prepared for a bit of a shock. It’s always a bit more stressful when you host a party yourself, and even if everyone is tucked away in their own little corner, you’ll be surprised as to how much mess can be made! So, just prepare yourself for the eventuality!

An LAN party is a great way for you to have people around, but they can become quite bored, stiff affairs, if you don’t put enough planning into it. So, by taking inspiration from Dreamhack and how they do things, you can add a bit more excitement into the party, and make it a memorable one, with or without Leeroy Jenkins…



About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.

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