Most of us may have been to a Lan party, playing games all night, eating junk food and drinking. We call them a Geekfest. Hostng a Lan party is a completely different animal. There are a lot of things you have to think about. Here are some things you have to do to have a great party with minimal issues.

  1. Power – running all those computers takes a lot of power. Homes are not designed to support 20 computers running at the same time. If you run all the computers off of one circuit you will surely blow a breaker. Split the power up, run extension cords from different circuits of the house. Put about 3 computers on each circuit, that should balance the power distribution.
  2. Get more food and beverages than you think you will need. Nothing is worse then running out of food or drinks. Ask your friends to bring something. Stick to finger food or sandwiches, and set the food up buffet style. You don’t want people to think that you are going to bring anything to them. Plan some breaks to get a way from the keyboards and eat. Have lots of caffeine on hand if you plan to go into the early morning hours.
  3. Have 2 sessions. Plan a afternoon session so some younger gamers can join in. Then after dinner it can be all adults. It is good to show the kids how a good Lan party is planned.
  4. Have everyone on the hardwire Lan, avoid wireless. Wireless networks can generate more work for you to setup and can add lag to the game.
  5. I try to avoid alcohol. When alcohol is involved, we always seem to get more spills, spills and computer equipment do not mix.
  6. Pick games that everyone owns. Try to keep a couple of copies on hand to install on other players computers that don’t own that game. Some of my favorite games are Starcraft, AOE2 and Battlefield. Startcraft is cheap and runs on almost anything.
  7. Although you shouldn’t need to provide network patch cables and power strips for each gamer, some one always forgets theirs. Always have spares on hand.
  8. If you are planning to run a local game server (ie. Halflife), make sure all the bugs are worked out ahead of time. Test, Test, and Test.
  9. Keep the cables neat and out of the way. Otherwise, someone is bound to trip on them. Consider taping cables down. Bunch groups of them running in the same area together really tight, and put all the slack at either end. Someone tripping on a wire and pulling a monitor off of the table can put a damper on the night.
  10. Have fun! Enjoy yourself.

These tips can make for a great Lan party. I think that tip number 1 is the most important, of course. Blowing a breaker ever 5 minutes kills a Lan party, Trust me.