Wednesday, May 2, 2007

What is a LAN Party?

A LAN Party is an event where people come to network their computers together to play computer games against each other. If you're not a gamer, it probably sounds crazy that people pack up their big expensive computer and bring them to a party but events like this take place all over the world.

The most common format is a BYOC or Bring Your Own Computer. For a BYOC, each guest brings their own personal computer to the event to play on. A LAN party can also be many things....

  • A Nerd Gathering
  • Just one game genre like FPS or RTS
  • A computer game tournament
  • Have console games
  • A place to show off your case mod
  • A place to have fun and hang out and make new friends

A LAN Party can vary in size from a just a few friends in a dorm room to several thousand.

From Wikipedia (cc-by-sa-2.0)

The thrill of the Kill
When you play PC games over the internet at home, you have no idea who you are playing against. You can't yell at them and you can't see their face after you pwn them in round of deathmatch. With team games at home you have to use voice chat or type commands but at a LAN Party, all your teammates are sitting next to you and can hear you yell look out win you spot a sniper. The only downside is you can quickly tell who doesn't where deodorant.

When you play at home, you could be thousands of miles away from the game server and other other gamers and it takes time for data to travel to travel between all of these computers. While it may only take milliseconds from the time you pull your virtual trigger for the game to register a hit, this delay called lag could be enough time for your opponent to move out of the way or fire back and if their data reaches the server first, They may get the point instead of you. At a LAN Party, lag is no longer a concern because every one you're playing against are only feet away instead of hundreds of miles. In most multi player PC games, lag is measured in milliseconds by by calculating the time it takes for data packets to get from your computer to the game server and back. Games server browsers will list this value as a servers "ping" or "Latency" so you can to find a server that is close to you to reduce the amount of lag you will experience. Playing at home, often a good ping is one that is less than 60ms but at a LAN Party with a decent network, it's common to have a ping that is less than 5ms. So when your in the last round of a Counter-Strike match, that fantastic shot hits instantaneously, preventing your arch enemy from firing back, leading your way to a victory.

So Where Do I find These Awesome Events Called LAN Parties?
There are many places to look on the web. Have a look at this list:
You can also ask around at your school, university or local gaming center because often you can find a nice small event that may not be advertised on the web. Before you pack your backs to go have fun, have a look at our LAN Party Checklist to make sure you packed everything you'll need.

If you can't find a LAN Party near you, you should consider starting your own. It's not that hard and our next guide is all about.

Did I leave something out? That's what the comment box is for.

Continue on to I Want to Host One!

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