Introduction: How to LAN party?
Do you enjoy playing video games in the same physical space as your friends? Well then, you should consider hosting a LAN party! A LAN party (or Local Area Network party) is a gathering of people who meet up to play video games together using a wired network instead of the internet.
LAN parties can consist of 5 friends in a small room inside someone’s living room, to 5,000 people, professional teams, and tournaments in a huge exhibition center. The best part is both of them are LAN parties in their own right!
We’ll go over the why’s and what’s in this blog, explaining everything you need to know about LAN parties – from what they are, to how to host your own, and everything in between!
In this blog:
What Is A LAN party?
A LAN party is a gathering of people who meet up to play video games together using a wired network instead of the internet. Most LAN parties are BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) events, meaning you bring your own PC to hook into the network. If you’re looking to join a BYOC LAN and don’t have a PC, you can typically rent a PC from the event organizers if it’s a large event. If you’re on a tight budget and want to build a system, consider checking out our best budget $500-$700 gaming PC builds.
A wired connection via LAN means next-to-no latency, which provides the evenest platform possible for esports titles such as CS:GO, Overwatch & Valorant. In these types of games, a single millisecond can mean the difference between winning or losing a tournament.
The LAN network also makes it possible to play with anyone else wired into the network, across any game you could want! The in-person gaming experience where you can shout across the room and see other people’s reactions is what adds to the charm of LAN parties.
What's The Point Of A LAN party?
The main appeal of LAN parties is that they offer a more personal gaming experience than playing online. When you’re playing in the same room as your friends, you can trash talk, high-five (or fist bump) them when you win, and overall just have a more social gaming experience. In addition, since everyone is on the same network, there are no lag issues or connection problems that can often plague online games.
LANs offer an uninterrupted, low-latency gaming experience that cannot be matched by playing online. This is because when you play online, your connection has to travel through many different servers before it reaches the server hosting the game – which can add a lot of unnecessary latency.
To us, LAN parties are 48-72 hour getaways. Where you can forget about work and life – drink energy drinks, order pizza, and game all through the night with your friends for an entire weekend!
Famous LAN Parties
Some of the most famous LAN parties include Insomnia and DreamHack. These events often attract professional gamers who compete in esports tournaments for large pools of prize money. In addition to pro gamers, these LANs also attract casual gamers, cosplayers, streamers, and anyone else who enjoys video games and wants to meet like-minded people.
Insomnia is the UK’s biggest gaming festival, attracting over 2800+ BYOC gamers in their summer events. The event features esports tournaments, LAN areas, cosplay, YouTuber meet & greets, and more. DreamHack, located in Jonkoping, Sweden is the world’s largest LAN party, featuring 22,810 BYOC gamers in 2020. The biggest LAN event ever hosted.
If you’re looking for a local LAN event near you, check out our Esports Maps search. Our directory includes everything from small 30-person LANs to 3000 people LANs and everything in-between!
How to LAN party - Hosting Your Own LAN.
Now that we’ve gone over what a LAN party is and what they’re all about, it’s time to start planning your own! Below we’ll go over everything you need to successfully host your own LAN party.
There are three major points to consider when hosting your own LAN party:
1 – Size & Budget
First, you need to decide how many people you want to invite. This number will determine the size of the venue you’ll need to accommodate everyone, the amount of equipment required, and how much you’ll charge per ticket. This will all impact how large your budget needs to be to get started.
For your first LAN party, we suggest limiting the number of tickets available to a reasonable number your team can handle (Such as 50-100 people). This will allow you to offset a lot of the equipment cost if planned correctly. Once you have your headcount, it’s time to start planning equipment!
2 – Equipment
Now that you know the size of the venue and how many people are coming, we can begin making a list of the equipment needed to run a smooth LAN party.
When it comes to basic equipment, here’s what you’ll need:
Network switches allow multiple devices to connect to each other and share data. We recommend using a gigabit switch to avoid any bottle-necking issues. Depending on how many people are attending your LAN, you will need larger or more numerous network switches.
Our first recommendation is the TRENDnet TEG-S25D 24-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch. It features 24 gigabit RJ-45 ports, so each of your connected PCs will be able to utiliize the full speed between each system. (provided you use CAT5e ethernet cables.) It has amazing value, and if you can trust your LAN attendees to download the games they need before plugging into the network, then the unmanaged switch should be more than fine.
Our second recommendation is the NETGEAR 8-Port GS108. This is a great budget option if you’re hosting a smaller LAN, as this switch comes in variations of 5 port, 8 port, 16 port, and 24 port switches. Meaning any size LAN party can utilize these switches. Neither of our recommendations are managed switches, as we are trying to provide the best budget options for those hosting their first LAN parties. If you’re looking for more features, such as QoS and full network management through your switches. – Both NETGEAR and TRENDnet have managed versions of these network switches.
A Good Router
This is what will connect your LAN party to the internet (if you want to). We recommend using a multi-WAN router to connect all of your network switches together. The best value router we recommend which will be able to handle up to 4 WAN ports is the TP-Link ER605. For the price, it’s hard to beat it’s simple performance.
The TP-Link ER605 is a multi-WAN wired VPN router which features up to 4 Gigabit WAN ports. This should be plenty for your first LAN, as you could fit 4x network switches to the network.(96 people on the same network using our recommended network switches) The router also features multiple security features such as an SPI Firewall which will track all your network sessions’ packets. It also has Omada SDN integration, ensuring no data from your users passes through the cloud. With SMB (Server Message Block) you can allow shared software between all the computers on your network (such as a server with games downloaded). All of this on top of a Limited Lifetime Warranty is amazing value.
You’ll need these to connect your devices to the network switch, and from the network switch to the router. We recommend using CAT5e or CAT6 Ethernet cables at a minimum, as if you’re using our recommended gigabit network switches, you’ll need at least this grade of cable to ensure maximum speeds.
Cables don’t have to break the bank, but we highly suggest getting a good mix of lengths, as well as a whole load of spare cables to ensure quick turnaround of broken or defective cables.
The GearIT cables come in many different lengths from 1 foot – 10 foot cables. They come in 24 packs, which is perfect to fit in with the 24 port network switch we recommended earlier. We recommend picking up a couple of packs of these 10 foot cables, as they will allow you to set up all the switches to all the PCs and ensure you get the full gigabit transfer speeds between each PC.
Power is essential. If you have 40 PCs connected to a circuit and you overload it, you’re going to be in a tight spot when the circuit breaker trips.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, we recommend using the following tips and equipment:
You want to make sure all computers are not plugged into the exact same circuit. This means you will need to find the ciruit breaker box and determine where each separate circuit is. After you’ve determined where the distribution boxes are (if you’re at a venue such as a hall or hotel) – then you’ll want to create a network map. This will allow you to print it out and/or label each extension cord to make it clear for the users which plug to hook up into.
A good rule of thumb is 4 gamers on a 15 amp circuit or 5 gamers on a 20 amp circuit. You then want to setup extension cords evenly, labelling each one. You’re going to need to ensure each PC connection has access to a couple of power strips. A minimum of one plug for the PC and one for the monitor for each person is required. Any extension cords used must be surge protectors, as standard power strips offer no protection.
Running 25ft+ extension cords from another circuit (such as garage, kitchen or other room in the venue) is recommended so that you can balance the load between all of the circuits. We don’t recommend daisy-chaining power strips to extension cords, as this can be dangerous for all involved.
These Maxxima 6 outlet 15 amp surge protectors are a great price for a 4 pack of power strips. This four-pack should allow 12 gamers to connect their PCs to the power network. – And be safe knowing their equipment is protected by surge protection.
The GE 6-Outlet surge protectors are great because you can order multiple lengths of cable, in multipacks. So if you need 4x 20ft cables, they are easy to order. But if you only need 1x 10ft cable, you can order that individually also. They come with 800 joules and 15A, 1800W capacity – which should be enough for a maximum of 4 PCs per strip.
3 – Sponsors & Advertisement
When you’re hosting a LAN party, it’s important to advertise your event so that people know about it! The best way to do this is by creating a website or social media page for your event. Be sure to include all the relevant information like the date, time, location, and list of games that will be played.
Sponsors are a great way to help offset a good chunk of the cost of hosting a LAN party. Local food trucks can get good business as well as keep your guests happy, gaming cafes can sponsor some equipment or bring consoles and games to play on, and PC parts retailers can even provide rental PCs or provide all or some of your networking equipment simply for letting them have a booth or name sponsor.
All of these are good places to start when looking for sponsors, but try and be creative – maybe there is a local drone company or VR company that would love to have a stall. Or perhaps some local artists who would pay to sell their video-game-based art at your venue. The possibilities are endless when it comes to sponsors. It’s just a matter of thinking outside of the box and ringing up companies and asking them if they are interested.
In addition to helping with the cost, sponsors can also provide some great prizes for tournaments or raffles! This is a great way to attract more people to your event, especially if you are hosting tournaments. Allowing sponsors to advertise the tournament on their social media will provide you with a ton of free advertising.
Speaking of advertisements. Making social media pages across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube / TikTok are essential to getting your LAN out there. Paying for boosts on posts, sharing photos and videos of the set-up process for the LAN hall as well as showing off exciting kit will all help with getting the word out.
What Games & Tournaments To Play At A LAN Party?
There are a ton of great games that are perfect for LAN parties. Some of our favorites include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, Overwatch, League of Legends, Hearthstone and Rocket League. You could also hold tournaments for each game – the more competitive, the better!
We highly recommend making a Discord server for your LAN event which will be able to handle all of the tournaments in one place. This will allow your users to have up-to-date news on tournaments, instructions on how to sign up for them and also provide a place for players to talk and network amongst themselves.
Some LANs are themed – Such as only hosting fighting game tournaments or racing game tournaments. Decide for yourself if you’re hosting a themed LAN or whether you’re going to host a varied LAN.
Conclusion: How to LAN party
By now, you should have a good understanding of how to LAN party. From what a LAN party is and why they’re so much fun. You also know how to host your own event, from setting up the network to advertising the event. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start planning your own LAN party today!
Don’t forget to check out our other gaming guides for more tips and tricks, such as the best budget streaming gear of 2022 – especially if you’re wanting to stream your LAN event! And be sure to follow us on social media for all the latest news and updates!
If you have any questions about hosting your own LAN party, or LAN parties in general – please feel free to ask in the comments below and we’ll get back to you!
– The EsportsMaps Team.