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What is a LAN party, and how to set it up?

A local area network (LAN) party is when a group of people gather in one physical space and connect their computers to a LAN to play video games together. Read this blog post to learn more about the essence of what a LAN party is and how you can set up your own.

What is a LAN party, and how to set it up?

What is a LAN party?

LAN party definition

A local area network (LAN) party is when people get together in a physical space to connect their computers or consoles to the same LAN network and play video games. LAN parties became popular in the ’90s when broadband internet was expensive and uncommon. LAN parties vary in size, from a get-together with a few friends to a major event involving hundreds of strangers.

LAN parties used to be the perfect way to play multiplayer games without relying on split-screen gameplay, often limiting the experience to a maximum of four players.

The heyday of LAN parties was the late ’90s to the early 2000s, when broadband internet was expensive and not that widespread. This was also before a good internet speed for gaming was uncommon to have. Users lacking access to high-speed internet found that LAN parties were also good opportunities to share files and software with each other.

While LAN parties have shrunk in popularity, they continue to be used. In fact, the latest renditions of Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PS are fully capable of LAN gameplay.

Small LAN parties

Small LAN parties are typically friends or acquaintances gathering to play video games together. While such gatherings usually take place in someone’s home or a garage, you can also get together at gaming cafes or gaming lounges for a LAN party. Participants connect computers or consoles via a router or switch and play video games or hang with fellow gamers.

Large LAN parties

Large LAN parties usually gather hundreds or even thousands of gamers and take place in sports arenas or large convention centers. While some participants compete for the title of winner, others may find themselves in other gaming-related activities, such as exhibits, workshops, or panel discussions.

The energy in large LAN parties is upbeat and energetic. Participants often dress in cosplay, socialize with one another, and immerse themselves in large-scale gaming experiences. Some of the most significant eSports events include Dota 2 The International, attracting thousands of gamers worldwide, the League of Legends World Championship (Worlds), and CSGO Major Championships.

Console-based LAN parties

Although the LAN party is most often associated with computer gaming, network-centric console platforms, such as Xbox or Playstation, are also commonly used gaming parties. Consoles are equipped with Ethernet ports that communicate with each other over standard routers or switches, just like traditional computers, and create a network allowing participants to play video games together.

What do you do at a LAN party?

The main purpose of a LAN party is to play video games with your friends in a more immersive and social environment than playing alone. Participants come together to show off their gaming skills, compete, and engage in friendly tournaments with small prizes.

Besides playing games, people gather to socialize, eat, and drink together. Due to the nature of LAN parties, gaming sessions usually last long into the early morning hours — energy drinks are a common feature.

LAN parties can be seen as the birth of true eSports tournaments. The original tournaments started with small LAN parties held between opposing teams to establish bragging rights. These escalated into minor cash prizes, which exploded into multi-million dollar, live-streamed, and sponsored tournaments.

How do you set up a LAN party?

As wireless networking and voice chat software became more popular, the desire for LAN parties dropped significantly. However, some players still long for an all-nighter with their friends, tagging each other with their favorite shooter or dominating with the latest strategy game. Here’s how to set up a good LAN party:

  1. Decide how big your LAN party will be. The scale of your gaming party will determine how much space and equipment you need for your gathering. You can host a small LAN party with the equipment you already have, but if you go for a larger one, you may need to buy or rent more devices.
  2. Find a venue. Your living room will probably be perfect for a small friend gathering. Although if you are inviting more people, a two-car garage is usually enough to fit around 20 gamers. Ensure the venue has stable electricity, air conditioning, and comfortable seating.
  3. Set up your networking equipment. You will need a router. Regular routers usually have four network ports, so if you are planning a bigger LAN party, get a switch allowing more connections because it is necessary to have one network port per person.
  4. Ensure stable internet. The need for a strong connection is why many LAN parties rely on separate ethernet cables rather than wireless internet. It’s still up for debate which is generally better for LAN parties, ethernet or Wi-Fi.
  5. Plan your power equipment. A LAN party will require extension cords from different sockets around the venue to run the event smoothly. Plugging all of your devices into one circuit may cause an overload and create trouble you must fix on the spot.
  6. Take care of the seating. Your kitchen or dining table may be enough for a house LAN party. However, if you are planning a gathering in your garage, you may need to rent tables and chairs. A 1.8-meter table is usually enough to fit two gamers for a convenient experience.
  7. Decide what you will play. Among the most popular LAN party games are first-person shooters, strategy games, and racing games. So choose your favorite in advance and set it up. Most video games require a dedicated server, so research and configure it a day before your party.
  8. Take care of the environment. LAN parties may last up to a few days, so think of the food, drinks, and a place to rest. You can also come up with some activities besides gaming, such as small basketball breaks or little walks around the neighborhood.

Once you have all of the above, you can achieve an almost perfect multiplayer experience.

But there’s one more aspect that some gamers overlook when it comes to LAN parties: outside interference. A VPN can bolster your LAN party’s defenses, and NordVPN is the best choice if you’re looking for a gaming VPN.

Can you do a LAN party without the internet?

Yes, you can do a LAN party without the internet. Actually, LAN parties were popular before widespread internet access was available. To set up a LAN party without an internet connection, you will have to connect all the devices to a switch or router using Ethernet cables.

No internet connection only means you will not be able to play online multiplayer games, but you can still have a lot of fun playing LAN multiplayer games with your friends.

What is the best VPN for LAN parties?

The best VPN for a LAN party depends on specific factors, like what game you will play, the number of players, and the venue of your gaming party. However, make sure to choose a reliable VPN service provider offering fast speeds and an extensive server network, which can be a key to reducing lag and latency.

Here are a few reasons why NordVPN is a good choice for LAN parties:

  • Meshnet lets you form remote LAN networks. This NordVPN feature can let you configure private game rooms on specific games and enjoy privacy and high connection quality when gaming with your friends.
  • It prevents DDoS attacks. A DDoS attack may be one of the most annoying things that can happen in a mid-gaming session. If you’re protected with a VPN, a DDoS attack would be targeted at a VPN server rather than your network.
  • You can set up NordVPN on your router. A VPN on your router may help protect whatever is connected to the network. It’s the perfect tool for LAN parties that rely on wireless internet.
  • It helps you to avoid traffic-based bandwidth throttling. A VPN keeps your activity hidden from your internet service provider (ISP). If you only connect to the net via a VPN server, your ISP won’t know if you spend much time streaming or gaming. You’ll have smoother gaming sessions with minimal throttling.

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