The LAN Phenomenon

By Pete | @kingpetey | 05 Oct 2002

You may of heard about LAN parties before, whether its your friends talking about them or from a website but what really is a LAN party? And what do they involve? Well to start with LAN stands for Local Area Network, which for non computer literate people means getting computers and plugging them into each other then getting them to communicate with each other. Once you have some friends and all your computers connected you clearly need some games, some popular titles include HalfLife, Unreal and Quake though there are many other great multiplayer games out there. (post on the gaming forum if you want more help with any games)

People then sit playing games for a couple of days without sleeping and taking massive amounts of cafeen and alcohol. Now you may think why not just do all this online? Well for starters over a network the lag time is practically nothing so people on faster connections wont have a massive advantage over you, secondary LAN parties turn into big social events. In the case of the I series people from all over the UK and Europe meet up at Newbury every 3-4 months and play full on battles with each other for a wide range of games. Though this does come at a price ? entrance is around ?80 however this does guarantee you a decent network connection and the chance to play with almost 1000 other people all on one site.

However not everyone can afford vast amounts of money going round the country to different events so people quite often arrange there own mini LANs of around 15-20 people gathered in some cheap hall some where in the middle of no where. This you can see from the picture below.

Picture submitted by ga.

The hardware is important at all LANs, each person is going to need to bring a pc that they are happy with playing games on, it helps if its already setup with a network card. After that your going to need a switch or a hub and a lot of cables and plenty of power for all those computers! (a shower helps too for all those sweaty players)

Any big quake fans will know that this weekend its Quakecon in America which is now in its 7th year. This is a big chance to meet people you may have played with online before or to talk to the developers of the game. LAN parties maybe an excuse for geeks to show off their latest graphics card rather then their latest car but they are turning into multi million pound businesses so someone must be doing something right!

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