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Hosting a LAN party is a great way to get together with friends, play computer games and have a fun time. A LAN party involves two or more people but can have hundreds of participants. Party goers are linked by a LAN, or local area network, and play the same computer game, either cooperatively or competitively.
While a LAN party has theoretically been possible since the days of the Atari, it wasn't until the game Doom came out in 1993 that a game was really designed with a LAN party in mind. Doom allowed up to four players to either work cooperatively through the missions or to face off against each other in a death match.
As gamers learned the fun of fragging friends when they are within screaming distance, LAN parties became more popular, especially given the low speeds of internet connections in the mid-1990s. Local area networks don't have the lag time that internet gaming suffered back then.
Since that time, the LAN party concept has blossomed. Low-cost ethernet systems, hubs and switches have made it even easier to host a LAN party in your home. A small LAN party can be organized in a matter of hours and last a day or a weekend. Competitors or cooperatives engaged in the LAN party can either include those physically at the party, or bots within the game, or even other live players on an online server, if the host has a broadband connection to the internet.
The size of your LAN party is determined by the size of your hub and how many ports it has. One port is required for each player. Larger LAN parties are usually set up by a corporate sponsor, offering prizes to the winners and a chance for everyone to show off their modified machines. All you have to do is pack up your computer and games, set up at the venue and enjoy the LAN party.
If you're planning to host a LAN party, make sure you have plenty of space for all the people who are expected to attend. Remember that computers, monitors, keyboards and mice take up a lot of space and need stable, flat surfaces. Make sure there is adequate cooling for both the machines and the gamers and plenty of high-sugar, low-nutrient snacks to go around.
Hosting or attending a LAN party is a great opportunity to show off your fragging skills while your friends or others are close enough to taunt you when they get a good hit. Game on!
There is a comic and game store close to my house that hosts a monthly LAN party. It actually draws a huge crowd. You have to sign up in advance and if you are not quick you are likely to loose out.
I have been at least a dozen times. I usually play Counter Strike or Half Life 2. I am mostly oriented towards first person shooters. Some of the other guys like Starcraft and other strategy games and some people go for RPGs. They keep a pretty good mix of games going but mostly it is just fun to hang out.
I went to a couple of LAN parties when I was in college and they were a lot of fun. A lot of people these days say that now that you can play online with XBox live and other services there is no reason to have a LAN party.
I think that online console gaming is great, but it is not the same as a LAN party. Sure the game is the same but the environment is not. LAN parties are fun because you are all in the same room together. You can yell at each other from across the room. You can throw popcorn. After it is done you can go our for a burger together. With XBox live you just sit in your living room by yourself.
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