Organizing a lanparty

Organizing a lan can be a piece of cake, or it can be a time-consuming activity. All depends on the size of the lanparty that you want to organize.

Here's a list of things you'll need to handle in order to organize it like a pro !

  1. Sizing
  2. Crew
  3. Venue
  4. Dates
  5. Games & Tournaments
  6. Furniture
  7. Network, Servers & Internet
  8. Power
  9. Catering
  10. Ticket-sale & Marketing
  11. Security & Rules
  12. Helpdesk
  13. Shop

1. Sizing

Too big, too small. The key to having a continuously enjoyable lanparty is to make sure that your sizing is just right !
That's not so much how many pizzas you buy, or how many tables you set out, but how long it runs for. It's of utmost importance to ensure that there's minimal time spent boring.
Also make sure that you can handle the event (crew) !
Keep it comfortable for you guests; give them enough space to setup their computers and to walk between the tables.

2. Staff / Crew

Staffing is important, you will probably need people to help you !

For a small LAN (2-10 people)

Just yourself should be sufficient. All you'll probably need to do, is set up your tables and put out your power strips and network equipment.

For a medium LAN (10-30 people)

Consider asking some friends to help you setting up everything and to help you if something goes wrong. And having people to help you to promote your event can really help !

For a large LAN (>30 people)

Staffing for large lanparties is a whole different thing ! You will need as many people as possible to help you with everything; from setting up tables to taking shifts for multi day events. A very important thing is to make sure you have enough staff to help you for multi day events; you will not be able to stay up and help people for 24 hours straight. Have people take shifts. For larger LANs it can help to have people broken down into different "Departments" like Networking, Servers, Power, Catering, Ticketing, Tournaments, Security, etc. If your lanparty is big enough, you might need subsections like Core Networking, Download Servers, Power distribution, etc...

3. Venue / Location

Venue is one of the most important considerations for a lanparty, next to power and network.

For a small LAN (2-10 people)

For a small lanparty, a garage or a large living room will do. Carefully consider your power situation before settling on a location.

For a medium LAN (10-30 people)

Make sure you calculate how much power you need when considering LAN locations. It may be cheaper for you to go with a larger venue than you need, but that provides enough power than for you to rent a generator. Look at the space available to make sure there is enough space for the participants.

For a large LAN (>30 people)

Venue is very important for large lanparties !

Make sure you plan out and measure where you are going to put not just the tables but everything else from ticketing, catering (kitchen, bar), sleeping area, servers, crew-area, etc.
Be sure you have place to sleep for multi-day events and enough parking for everyone !

Organizing a lanparty is one thing, cleaning up the venue is something else :)
When people come together in a closed area and stay there for a long time, there's going to be a lot of mess to cleanup. You will probably be tired too, so make sure to get some help !

4. Dates

Picking a good date isn't easy !

It's not a good idea to organize your lanparty at the same time as other well-known lanparties in your area.
First weekends of school-vacations are great. Or extended weekends. But on those dates there will probably already be a lanparty somewhere.

Don't forget that you will need some time to organize everything, to do some marketing, to get all your stuff together, to find enough participants and finally to setup the event and to cleanup everything when the event is over. So the golden rule here is to fix your date a couple of months upfront.

The lan-party.be website is a great tool to help you to find the best dates !

5. Games & Tournaments

Selecting games/tournaments before your party is a good idea : if everyone knows what they'll be playing, they can decide whether they want to go or not, and download or install the games upfront.

Since a LAN party will involve mostly multiplayer games, have a computer(s) or server(s) that can run a gameserver at full speed without having to worry about crashes or problems. If you feel that your computer is sufficient, then not having a separate server is an option, but keep in mind that if you are running a server from inside the game and your computer is crashing that means that everyone is crashing. Also, if your game gets laggy, the server will too, whether it is a separate program or not.

Some popular games for LAN parties include:

  • Age of Empires
  • America's Army (free2play)
  • Battlefield
  • Blobby Volley (freeware)
  • Blur
  • Call of Duty
  • Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Source, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Doom
  • Dota (free2play)
  • Fifa
  • Flatout2
  • Garry's Mod
  • Hearthstone (free2play)
  • League of Legends (free2play)
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Quake
  • Rocket League
  • Starcraft
  • Streetfighter
  • Team Fortress 2 (free2play)
  • Tetrinet (free2play)
  • Trackmania (free2play)
  • Unreal Tournament (free2play)
  • Warcraft III
  • Worms
  • ...

Activities besides gaming

For lanparties of all sizes it is important to plan activities besides gaming.
As much as you think you will want to game for 12 or 24 hours straight, people will get bored so you need to plan other things to do during the LAN depending on whether it is a one-night event or a 5 day extravaganza. You can plan things from a board game to bands playing, soccer, pool and giveaways.

Tournaments

Most lanparties organize tournaments. To setup brackets easily, you can make use of several online tournament-websites. Here's a list of some of them :

6. Furniture

You need to make sure that you have enough furniture to accommodate everyone that you expect to come. This includes mostly tables and chairs. But sometimes you could need a bar, sofa's, a stage, rollerwalls, etc.

For a small LAN (2-10 people)

You will need enough table space for everyone. Normally your dining room table plus a couple of folding tables will do.
Make sure to have enough chairs. Folding camping chairs are normally too low and metal folding chairs are normally uncomfortable to sit in for extended periods of time. Garden chairs are an option.
You will want to plan where people will sit, remember to think about how you will run the network and power cabling.

For a medium LAN (10-30 people)

You will most likely not have enough tables. You can buy or rent folding tables pretty cheaply.
Additionally you will most likely need more chairs to accommodate everyone. Make sure you have enough (or alternatively you can ask everyone to bring their own chair).
Make sure to measure out where you want to put the tables to avoid having to make last minute changes when things don't fit.

For a large LAN (>30 people)

If you are holding your event at a venue, in most cases they will have chairs and tables available for you, either as part of the service or as a separate rental.
Planning your space is essential, including where all the tables and chairs are going (be sure to leave space in between rows). 120cm for a 1 sided row and 200cm for a double sided row.
Consider assigned seating for paid admission events in order to locate people easier and teams or clans can sit together.

7. Network, Servers & Internet

Network

For a small LAN (2-10 people)

For a small lan all you need is a simple switch with enough ports for everyone at your lan. All you need to do is connect all the computers to the switch and a cable from your switch to your home router or cable modem.

What you need :

  • Router (for your internet-connection)
  • 1x (or 2x) 8-port switches, preferably Gigabit-switches
  • Network Cables

For a medium LAN (10-30 people)

With a medium lan and depending on your layout it may not be possible to connect everyone to the same switch without a lot of unnecessarily long cables. In order to remedy this you need several smaller switches connected to one larger switch. It is important not to "Daisy Chain" the switches because the traffic will need to go through many more switches before reaching its destination, slowing down the network, and creating a single point of failure (if the first switch gets unplugged all of them will go down). The best way to do this is to have a switch at every table and cables running to a central switch. That central switch is connected to your router or your server.

What you need :

  • Router (for your internet-connection)
  • 1 or 2 24-port Gigabit Switches or multiple 8-port Gigabit Switches
  • Network Cables

For a large LAN (>30 people)

With a large lan, different things need to be considered. When computers are connected they send a request to every single other computer on the network, when this happens with many computers at once it can cause a network to become painfully slow and lock up making it unusable for everyone. In order to solve this problem you need to use managed switches and routers, which can be complicated to configure and use. With larger numbers of people switching to a gigabit "backbone" can be hugely helpful allowing you to connect more people per-switch, with the above design you have 20 people sharing a 1000Mb/s backbone giving each person a max of 50Mb/s which is as good if not better than peoples home connection but, if you want people's connections to be faster, or to connect more people per switch you will need a faster up-link to the main switch (called the Core) so you can get a switch with Gigabit up-link ports, so if you had a 24 port switch with 2 gigabit (1000Mb/s) uplinks every person would have about 84Mb/s of bandwidth which is very fast.

What you need :

  • Linux- or Windows-Server
  • 1x Core Gigabit Switch
  • Multiple 24-port Gigabit Switches, preferably Manageable-switches
  • Network Cables

Servers

Game servers for your lan can come in many different forms from someone hosting games on his computer, to some dedicated rackmount servers.

For a small LAN (2-10 people)

Hosting on someone's computer (whoever's has the biggest and the fastest computer) should be sufficient. You can consider setting up another computer to host but this is usually not necessary.

For a medium LAN (10-30 people)

Having dedicated servers on some extra computers is suggested. Be sure to check the recommended server specs for the games you want to play.

For a large LAN (>30 people)

Dedicated servers are a must ! You may want to have more than one dedicated server depending on the number of games, the types of games and the number of participants.
If you have more than a handful of servers, getting rackmount ones are definitely worth it instead of just using towers, they can be easier to manage and take up less space and power.
You might want to consider setting up a lancache server. More info : https://github.com/bntjah/lancache

8. Power

Estimating power draw

A good rule of thumb for power draw is that every computer and its monitor will draw about 4 amps (4A for short). We can use this to plan out who will be plugged in where at your house or venue, and whether or not you will need an external source of power (a small generator, a larger (rented) generator, a cable to your neighbor's place, etc.).
Houses are wired up so that multiple outlets, be they lights, plugs, or anything else, are on one electrical circuit, which has a maximum load (in amps). In other words, those outlets are all wired up together, and affect each other.

Typically, every circuit in your house has a maximum draw of 15 or 20 amps, to keep requirements of the wiring and outlets safe and inexpensive. Usually circuits with many outlets will be 20 amps, but you can go to the breaker panel, find your circuit, and check the amperage.

Keeping in mind that each computer/monitor will be drawing about 4 amps (but can be higher!), we can say that it's safe to put three (no more than four) computers and their monitors on a 16 amp circuit, and four (no more than five) on a 20 amp circuit. If you have larger circuits, it's safe to add 1 computer/monitor for every 4 amps, more or less.

While all this is a good generalization, and a good starting point for planning your party, it's worth considering that there are plenty of computers, even decent gaming rigs, that won't be pulling 4 amps. Serious gaming rigs can also pull upwards of 5 or 6 amps.

Judge your attendees or ask them when they subscribe ! If you are doing a small enough party that you know everyone who will be attending, you can guess or ask what sort of computer they will be bringing. If you find out that almost everyone is bringing a laptop or mid-range PC, it's within reason to knock down your estimated per-computer draw to 2 amps (and thereby double the number of computers you can have per circuit).

In any case, be prepared to whip out and extra extension cable or power strip if you find that you judged wrong, and make sure your building can accommodate as though all the event participants will be pulling 4 amps. Hooking up power with an estimated 2 amps per person is solely for convenience (and less extension cords), and should not be planned around completely.

Power Planning

Having determined how much current you will pull, how many circuits that corresponds to in your building, and where those circuits are physically located, it's time to plan out how you're going to get the power where it needs to go.

You will want to plan upfront what circuits you are going to use and know how many power strips/extension cords you will need. Usually participants must bring their own power strip.

For a small LAN (2-10 people)

  • You can use house power.
  • A few extension cords in order to move power from one area to another to avoid tripping a circuit
  • Some power strips to plug in all the computers and networking hardware

For a medium LAN (10-30 people)

  • You will want to carefully consider the power requirements for your event and consider hosting it somewhere besides your house
  • A few extension cords to cover the distance from the power sockets to the tables
  • You will need to carefully plan out your cabling in order to avoid over taxing your circuits

If you are hosting at a small venue, be sure to contact them to check how much power they have available. If they don't have enough power available you might need to rent a generator (see below) or lookout for another venue with more power. Even if that other venue is more expensive, it could be cheaper than renting a generator !

For a large LAN (>30 people)

Power is crucial ! Many venues will not be able to provide adequate power for more than 100 people ! Talk to the people in charge of the facility to plan out your power usage.

Making a map of the power strip locations and extension cord locations can be very helpful for making sure that you have enough equipment. Asking participants to bring their own power strip, and enforcing power drawing limits are a MUST !

Using a Generator

When renting a generator there are several things to consider :

  • Location : where will you put the generator ?
  • Distance : the generator needs to be as close to the event as possible
  • Capacity : does the generator have the capacity to power the number of people ?
  • Distribution, you will need special equipment to connect the generator to the computers along with high capacity cabling. Make sure to consult with a knowledgeable person before renting or using one.
  • Noise : generators can be very loud
  • Emissions : generators produce CO² emissions !
  • Fuel : make sure to have enough fuel

9. Catering

Feeding all your participants is essential. Hungry people are grumpy people !

For a small LAN (2-10 people)

You can usually just order pizza, burgers or something similar. Or your friends bring along their own drinks and food.

For a medium LAN (10-30 people)

Two options here :

  1. Everyone brings his own drinks and food and prepares it themselves in a microwave.
    • You need fridges and freezers and an oven or a microwave.
  2. You provide catering-services.
    • If you provide catering-services, you will need to get organized :
    • Crew : you will need someone to serve drinks and prepare the meals.
    • Finance : you will need a pay-desk and enough change. It's probably easier to work with catering-cards.
    • Stock : how much food and drinks will you need ? Can you go out at any time to buy some more if you are short of something ?
    • Material : do you have enough material ? Think of : ovens, microwaves, fryers, fridges, freezers, cutlery, dishes, glasses, ...

For a large LAN (>30 people)

You can consider providing catering-services like we described or you can consider having the event catered.

10. Ticket-sale & Marketing

Marketing

Promoting your lanparty is an essential thing to do. Be sure to include :

  • Who : event name
  • What : what your event is about (for the newbies)
  • Where : event location
  • When : date and time to arrive. Date and time event will end
  • Entrance fee
  • Major activities and tournaments.
  • Age restrictions (if any)
  • Hard rules (E.g. alcohol/drugs restrictions)
  • If it's a multi-day event, sleeping facilities. (E.g. quiet room, local hotels/motels)
  • What each guest needs to bring
  • If your event is multiple nights, ask your guests to bring a pillow, sleeping bag and deodorant.
  • Plans for food and drink (E.g. Pizza run ? Will you be providing catering services ?)
  • Games you plan on featuring
  • Location accessibility information, such as parking
  • Any other additional items to bring or policies to be aware of that are specific to your event
  • ...

You can do this by putting up flyers at :

  • Community halls and youth centers
  • Schools
  • Internet and gaming cafes
  • Computer hardware stores
  • Mall bulletin boards
  • Fast-food restaurants
  • Other lanparties in your area
  • ... (be creative !)

Announce your lanparty online !

The first thing to do is to announce it on www.lan-party.be (of course) !
Besides this, think of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Twitch,...
But also gaming related community-websites like (9lives, 4gamers,etc), other lanparty-websites, forums, etc.
Last but not least; make sure your own website works well and is up to date.

Reservations

To participate at most lanparties, participants need to order a ticket upfront. This means that participants can reserve a ticket online and make a payment. Payments are mostly done by wiretransfer (cheapest) or Paypal (expensive but easy).

Once the payment is done, the reservation is confirmed.
This way of working helps you as an organizer. If you intend to have e.g. 50 participants, but only 30 people made a payment, you know that you will need less tables, chairs, power, switches, etc.

Once payments are coming in, you can start making up a seatplan. This is handy for the participants to know who's coming and where they will be seated. Clans will want to be seated next to each other.

A seatmap is also handy when you organize tournaments as players will need to search each other to play together.

11. Security & Rules

Rules

Setting rules for your event can be important, even if your event is informal. For large LANs they are a must !

Some rules we suggest :

  • Have fun !
  • No food allowed inside the LAN rooms only in the designated areas.
  • Keep your area clean and throw away your trash.
  • Wristband must be worn and visible at all times.
  • Wristband is required for entry and re-entry into the LAN.
  • Be kind and courteous to fellow gamers.
  • Absolutely no alcohol or drugs allowed.

Additionally having some rules about computers :

  • Update your Windows and your games prior to the lanparty - less downloading means more bandwidth !
  • Only 1 monitor per person (and not wider than 30”).
  • Turn off all file-sharing/torrenting software.
  • No speakers, headphones only !
  • Your equipment can only be plugged into your ports.

Security

Security can become an issue, specifically for medium to large lanparties.

For those events, you likely don't know every participant. And participants bring their own material which probably has some important value. For events that last longer than a day, you can imagine that your participants won't stay behind their keyboard all the time. And that's when thieves come in !

Theft is very hard to avoid as a smartphones, mice, memory-sticks, headsets or wallets are small things and can be taken away very quickly.

Installing camera's or webcams can help. And of course, having a security-guy at the entrance is always a good idea !

12. Helpdesk

Some participants could have trouble connecting to your network. No more fun for them if you can't find a solution to solve their problems. So make sure you or someone from your crew or our your friends has a profound IT-knowledge to help them out.

13. Shop

Gamers travel a long distance to go to a lanparty. And sometimes they forget some essential stuff like network-cables, power-cables, mouse, headset, keyboard, etc. Or it breaks during the lanparty.

It's always a good idea to have some accessories that you can lend or sell them. Especially network- and power-cables. Or you could ask a local retailer to setup a (small) shop at your event ?


Well, that's it for me. If you think that something is missing, don't hesitate to contact us and we will update this article.
GLHF !!!!!!!!!!

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