Cody “KINGBLUNKERS” Allison back for a very fun topic that I am very passionate about for gamers everywhere, the Lan Party!
I decided to write about this because I actually just hosted one this past weekend with some dear friends of mine.
If your childhood video game experience was anything like mine you might remember having your NES/64/xbox with controller wires tangled up stretching from the tv to you and your friends/siblings/cousins. I grew up in a house full of 6 kids as well as multiple cousins who frequently stayed over and some close friends who eventually felt like family. Most Fridays/ Saturdays/and summer nights were spent in front of the screen taking turns and tangling the cords even more when I reluctantly passed the controller to my brother or sister. I loved spending time with those I cared about enjoying my favorite hobby. To this day some of the most rewarding things you can offer to me is come over and play video games and I’m 24. Still waiting for my friends to pick up League of legends or overwatch so that we can play 😉
Online gaming is amazing and I don’t want to take it for granted, but far too often do we ONLY play online and lose that human friendship element.
I love LAN parties because they naturally force you to get together with your friends and have a real human experience face to face. You might think I’m being over dramatic. But I personally have a vision for video games and the future and believe that they can be more than a toy for children, but a serious medium for art, storytelling, and connecting humans. But I’ll get into that in future posts.
Basically a LAN party is when a group of people get in the same room and bring their own PCs or consoles and connect them via LAN (Local area network) This can be used in one of two ways. In early days of LAN parties, we used it to connect our Xbox’s together without having to deal with Xbox live memberships, Or you can use it to essentially create a private lobby for you and your friends by all being connected to your home network.
These days, console developers are phasing out Split screen and couch co-op styles of play. This means spending $500 for the console, $60 for the game, and a monthly fee to have your game connect to the internet (I don’t know what the going rate is, but used to be $60 a year for xbox live when I played console) But PC isn’t exempt, there is still a fair amount of games that do not support local co-op, and require your friends to lug over their PC/laptop if you want to be in the same room. This discourages relational, in person playing.
But I want to talk about some LAN party essentials, then I will share some details about some games that have been pretty successful for us in the past, and what games didn’t work for our group of friends.
ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES
So think about your home setup for console/PC. You probably have your own desk and an office chair, and maybe some speakers, and a mouse/mousepad, keyboard, the tower/console. Probably have a nice little situation. Now you have to fit 4-10 people all in one room all with their own gear.
So maybe in a living room or basement, be prepared to push your couches/tables out of the way and get a wide open space. What we like to do is have kinda what I’ll call either the “Bar” Set up, or the “Dinner table” set-up. Both of these will need enough table-surface space and chairs to fit your crew.
Bar Set Up:
When you set up a line of tables and everyone sits on the same side in a line
-Pros of this is it’s easier to see and talk to most people because you don’t have a monitor in the way. It also is a bit easier to plug in and hook everyone’s gear up, because the back-side of your computer is exposed (when I would imagine most people have it backed up to their wall or desk normally)
-Cons is it likely takes up more room because you’re not using both sides of the table.
When you set up a pod of tables and everyone sits on the outside with monitors on the inside.
-pros can save you some space, and makes for some natural division to make teams so that people can talk to people sitting near them, and other team can’t screen-peek as easily.
-Cons have to speak over a monitor, hard to access wires.
Network & Power
Besides the obvious PC/console needed to play the game, you’ll need network and power.
For power, this likely means extension cables and power strips. These are fairly common household items and shouldn’t be a problem, just make sure that you don’t have circuit issues. Too much power can overload the circuit and cause a fuse to go out, and in extreme cases damage your computer’s data. (Not likely, just throwing that out there.) Some things to keep in mind about power is the cords, make sure you manage them effectively so that you don’t have to worry about people tripping over the cord and killing your game session. (First LAN party we had, we discovered this problem and named this area the danger zone) Also, computers/consoles generate a lot of heat. It’s probably gonna get hot in there. So try to make sure the electronics get enough air, and that you get enough air… no one wants a smelly game session.
For network, you have choices. Wi-Fi is great if your home network can handle it, and everyone’s computer has Wi-Fi capability. I never bothered with buying Wi-Fi card for my PC, always do landline, just faster for me usually.
Wi-Fi will reduce your clutter, but again may have performance issues.
If you go the hardwire route you will need a plethora of Ethernet cords. We had the most success by getting a network hub that everyone plugged into, then you get one giant Ethernet cable to connect everyone to the main network. Like I said this has more cords and mess, and trouble as your router may be very far from your gaming area, but I think it’s the best for performance.
This is the fun part, but can also be very very difficult. First of all, everyone have opinions. Some people like competitive games and want to curb stomp their friends (that’s me) other people like co-op and want to work together as a group. While some people want strategy games, others want first person shooters. Some people don’t want to spend any money, other people own every game in the universe.
So ultimately what you enjoy will be up to you and your friends, but below I want to provide some suggestions and resources to aid your search.
(disclosure, not all games listed below actually have a LAN feature, but you can party up with people. Main point is not the network you play on, but that you actually take the time to get in a room with friends).
Any game with a “team-Deathmatch” mode is likely pretty LAN friendly
We played the original instead of the more popular CS:GO. This was simply because everyone owned the original CS. But you can split up and take turns in last man standing mode, or defuse mode. Special shout out to http://www.cs2d.com/ free top-down,2d version of counterstrike. Nice alternative if you have cash limitations
Chivalry/Mount and Blade
If modern warfare isn’t your flavor get up close and personal in a medieval game. Both are very fun games that swap guns for swords. Mount and blade is cool because you can ride a horse, but I personally prefer Chivalry for its “Gladiator map” and an emote that makes you character do an annoying yet hilarious battle cry.
Quake is one of the original OG FPS. Now it’s on steam and will take you back if you remember playing the first version.
Also an old-school FPS specifically we played the 2004 tournament version, there’s a few different options out there… I don’t remember the difference, but I like 2004. I don’t remember the name of the game mode, but there’s your Deathmatch option as well as, my favorite, a version where you and your teammates pass back and forth a ball and try to bring it back to your base and throw it in a goal at the end.
This one you probably won’t spend a ton of time in, buts it’s free and simple, and now on steam! 2d platformer where you pick up weapons and have at it.
In Plain Sight
This game I didn’t have high expectations for but it blew me away. You are robot-ninjas in space on weird little tiny planets with low gravity. The only goal is to destroy your foes and gather points. The more points you gather the bigger your robot becomes. You then self-destruct to cash in your points. You gain more points for self-destructing with higher amount of takedowns racked up. So it’s a fun risk/reward game. So zooming around in the low gravity and dashing to your enemies is quite fun.
We had to learn a few of these, because not everyone in our friend group always liked destroying each other.
This game had a lot of potential, but didn’t quite work when we tried it. It’s an online space ship simulator. Each person has a role such as navigator/pilot, communication/more. But your goal is to go about the galaxy destroying enemies picking up resources. We played it when it was pretty new and ran into a lot of bugs. It’s had many updates and steam support since then so it’s probably better than it was when we played it.
This game could also go in the couch-coop section below, but I will keep it here. Forced is a top down game that’s part puzzle/part hack n slash. You and up to 3 friends work together, each with a unique role to fight through enemies and control a magic orb ball thing. The ball is a very fun mechanic that introduces the puzzle aspect of it.
This is one of my all-time favorite games. It’s a FPS mixed with tower defense. The first game is great, and the second one is even better with more content and combinations of towers/heroes/and weapons.
Left 4 dead and Payday
Good options. Both team work. One about zombies, one about thieves.
(Other games we tried with minimal success, but still recommend) Guns of Icarus, Lovers in a dangerous spacetime, league of legends, heroes of the storm, Warcraft 3. A lot of these have a steep learning curve, or just are a little slow.
I have to put these game in its own special context, because they are sooo much more fun in the same room
Described as a murder mystery game. You are assigned a randomized character/and name. And you are on a cruise ship. You are assigned a target to assassinate on the ship, but the catch is… some other player is also hunting you. The game makes you take care of basic human needs such as eating/sleeping/bathroom/etc which limits you from hiding out. And furthermore each round has different prices for using certain weapons. So while you might find a wrench in the room you start in, you might get paid much more handsomely for finding a frying pan to whack someone with. And certain areas have security cameras/guards that if caught with a weapon you will be sent to the on ship jail which loses you money and time. Money can be caught to change your outfit to throw your hunter off the trail. Its seriously stupid fun.
Rocket league has been a huge success since its relatively young life in the public eye. Essentially it’s soccer, but with rocket powered cars. And while this game also can have a high learning curve, it’s still pretty fun and “even” when playing with mismatched skill/experience levels.
This game takes your streetfighter/mortal kombat and boils it down to two button. Jump and Dive kick. One hit kills. Its super simple and hectic. Very fun to play tournament style.
Just plug in some controllers to your PC and you’re good to go.
These are most easily accomplished on consoles, but like I said before, some consoles are phasing this ability out more and more. But I have a Wii U, the only two we really liked are Super Smash bros and Mario kart. Mario Party is super fun if you have the time for its.
This is a quick and easy last man standing game that will certainly produce some laughs. You play as ducks, run around and grab random weapons and try to blow up your opponents.
Move or Die
Very quick and fast paced mini games with a variety of tasks and objectives, but the most important is to not stand still. As you standstill your life drains. Keep moving/running/jumping while playing the minigame at hand.
Very similar to duck game… but without the ducks. You play in small arenas where you try to shoot your bow and arrow at your enemies. But in this game you can use the roll/dodge mechanic to catch the arrow. We haven’t played this together as a group yet, but we are actually playing this weekend!
This is a co-op-cooking game. You essentially play as chaotic line cooks who needs to crank out the orders that pop up on the top of the screen, it’s like your old school diner-dash but now with friends!
Keep talking and nobody explodes
This was our most played game from this most recent event. One person has the game on their own laptop and can see the bomb. The defuser then describes the bomb to all the other players who are on their own pc’s at bombmanual.com with instructions on how to solve the modules on the bomb. Very fun, very intense teamwork.
Team up with friends to play through this top-down pixel heist game. Work together to break in and steal your loot and escape while trying to avoid being seen.
There are a couple different versions these days, but this is a fun simple party game.
All you need is one person to own the game, and everyone else with a smartphone. The main screen describes the game and everyone else connects by going to jackbox.tv and enters a room code. This syncs your phone up to the game and makes your phone the controller.
That concludes most of the games we’ve tried over the years of LAN parties.
Like I said, the main point of your LAN parties should be the friends. So if you are strapped for cash… there’s ways around that. If you guys only like one game… keep playing that game! The most important thing is to make your friends come over and destress with friends. We normally get some food and drinks brought in and make a whole day of it.
I highly encourage you to organize one of these with your friends. If you have any questions about logistics/games/etc message us! Lets be honest, some people don’t have the availability to go their friends house for one reason or another. If you live in a big city, I bet there’s a group of gamers organizing these for the general public. Do some googling and see if there’s something like that. Gamer’s have a bad negative stereotype of losers in the basement with no friends. PROVE THE WORLD WRONG! I will talk about the state of Gamers in future posts, but sometimes, we don’t do much to legitimize gaming as a real hobby.
Get together with like minded people and make gaming a social thing. Games are good to disconnect and escape from your problems… in moderation. LAN parties force your gaming time to be social timing so that you don’t use videogames as an emotional crutch, but as a tool to intentional/emotional connection to others.
Alright… off my soapbox. Have fun, that’s what games are for.
Tell me your LAN experiences in the comments always looking for new suggestions.
Love you guys, thanks for reading.
Cody “KINGBLUNKERS” Allison