Ask LH: How Do I Set Up A LAN Party?

Dear Lifehacker, I am interested in hosting my own LAN party at my place with about 20 friends but I have no idea on how to set it up and how to allow everyone to have the same game to play. Any quick tips? Thanks, Aspiring Gamer

LAN picture from Shutterstock

Dear AG,

Unless you live in a Great Gatsby-style mansion, getting 20 people, their gaming rigs and a bunch of tables and chairs into your house is going to be tricky — especially if you want everyone to play in the same room. One popular solution is to use a two-car garage, but if you don’t have access to one of those you may want to scale the LAN party back to around eight or nine people. This should still be plenty for a fun night of gaming.

When it comes to gaming equipment, most amateur LAN parties are a BYO affair, so you don’t need to worry about supplying extra monitors and gaming PCs/laptops for your friends — just get them to bring their own, along with their mouse and keyboards of choice.

What you will need to provide is a robust power setup and a reliable network. Your first port of call should be a network switch for your router which all the gamers then plug into. These come with multiple ports and you can plug more than one into the same router. Naturally, you’ll also be wanting some extra-long ethernet cables, a surge protector and plenty of extension cords. (Cable management is very important here, or you’ll risk injuring friends and/or equipment.)

For larger LAN parties, you also need to ensure you’re not overloading the electricity circuits in your house; instead use power sockets on separate circuits (this is where the extension cords come in). You may also want to install a dedicated game server which will help ensure everyone has a good connection to the game at hand. You can find a list of Australian game server providers here.

Alternatively, you could set up a Virtual Private Network and host the whole thing remotely. This obviously isn’t as social or fun but it does mean none of your friends have to lug their computers to your house. You can find out more about setting up a private LAN gaming network in our Build Your Own VPN Guide.

Unfortunately, most games require each member of the LAN party to have their own copy. There are ways around this, but none of them are particularly legal so we’ll leave you in the hands of Google [Disclaimer: breaking the law is bad, mmkay]. It is possible to pick up free and affordable games suitable for LAN parties however: the various iterations of Counter-Strike remain incredibly popular, for example.

As always, if any gamers have tips or suggestions of their own, let AG know in the comments section below.


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