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Last edited on April 10th, 2012 by gnat   

Preparing for the big day.


There are a number of items to address a few weeks before your LAN party happens.

Choosing people to help you.


So you have all of the little details ironed out and need help to do it all. They key here is: Delegate, delegate, delegate. Meaning, break up the work you have to do and give them as tasks to others.

After hosting only one LAN party, it's easy to realize that there is far more work to be done than any single person should attempt to handle. The good news is that you can get your friends to help you, and once you've got a few events under your belt you'll likely develop an "inner circle" of attendees who like to help out too.
  • General greeters and setup helpers. Although you should greet and say hi to everyone, it's ideal to be able to pass your guest off to a dedicated helper so you can greet the next. This is some of the most valuable help you can get: A comfortable guest who is settled in and gaming is a happy guest.
  • Registration desk guy. Similar to a greeter, but has the added responsibility of taking money and helping with registration forms. Make it's someone you trust!
  • Tournament manager. Rallies competitors and manages brackets. Usually one for each tournament. Tournament managers cannot play in their respective tournaments; you have been warned.
  • Networking guru. For zipping around and keeping the network running.
  • Food king. If you plan to do a pizza run during the evening, have a dedicated person or two handling orders, money and delivery. Should have a car. Make sure you trust this person.
  • Power king. For zipping around and keeping everyones power setup safe, sane and online. Resetting breakers and reconfiguring seats as needed.
  • Photographers and cinimatographers. For taking photos and clips for YouTube. Essential for promotion, sponsors and your guests to reminisce later on! More than one of these is ideal.
  • Web master. If you have a dedicated website, having someone to handle all of the technical aspects can save you a lot of time. Make sure you trust this person.
  • The promoter. If your event gets really big, having a dedicated person for promotion and dealing with sponsors can also save you a lot of time. However, you may want to take this position yourself if you want fine control over your image.

Communicate well and remember that if anyone botches their responsibility it ultimately falls on your shoulders to make sure things are done right. Work with people you trust.


Tips for scheduling.


Scheduling should be kept simple. A brief bullet point schedule with approximate times works best because timing will become unstable once the LAN party is under way; keeping your schedule fluid can help. Don't sweat it if an activity time gets pushed back/forward a bit, it will happen.

Immediately start with easy to install, pick up and play games that anyone can grab.
Getting people seated and having fun immediately with their buddies should be top priority at the beginning while other attendees are still arriving. Nobody wants to be sitting around doing nothing. Big games of Quake, Bitfighter, Soldat, Armagetron can work well. Small LAN-only rips or demos of typically large games also work well (Ex: UT2k4).

Certain games play better at certain times.
If your LAN party starts in the evening and goes overnight, you'll want to schedule strategy-intensive games to start within the first 6 hours of the event (Ex: Starcraft, Supreme Commander). Guests will begin to become tired late into the night, which is when the simple, action-based games begin to shine (Ex: Quake, Armagetron, Soldat, Bitfighter).

On tournament scheduling.
If you plan for tournaments, host them early or mid-way through the event as guests will be tired and will underperform late into the night. Avoid hosting more than 2 major tournaments for a one-night event.


Choosing games to feature.


Write up a bullet point list of games you'll feature. They may not all get played, but preparing for a set list of games in advance can save a lot of time. See our LAN Party games directory for suggestions!

Minimizing installation times.
Nobody likes waiting around for installs. When handled poorly, installation times can outright kill an event. Fortunately there's a number of things one can do to minimize or even eliminate the time wasted:
  • Use smaller LAN-only rips of games that can be copied, pasted and played directly. This will vastly cut down on installation times and get everyone right into the next game. Test these several days beforehand.
  • Tell attendees to pre-install certain games before the event. If you're lucky, many will do this and get initial rounds going quicker.
  • If you have no choice but to install a large game, play a smaller game during the installation. Games featuring short rounds are ideal (Ex: Armagetron Advanced, Counter Strike, Bitfighter). Projector games and retro consoles are also an option (Ex: Mario Kart, Bomberman, Rock Band, etc.)


Putting together a guest handout packet!


A few weeks before your event you should write a small handout to give to your guests. A few pages of information you can copy and give out will be invaluable. This packet should be thrust into your attendees hands immediately after showing them around. Be sure to get your copies made before your guests start arriving. Include the following:
  1. A greeting to set the tone.
  2. Any ground rules.
  3. Your name and the names of fellow hosts at the event. How to find you and get your attention.
  4. How to find a seat and safely plug into power and network.
  5. IP addresses for any file or game servers.
  6. If you're not using DHCP: How to set up a static IP.
  7. List of any important events (Ex: Food runs, activities and tournaments.) Loose schedule.
  8. Any tournament rules.
  9. If your LAN party is multiple nights, rules for the quiet room and a list of nearby hotels/amenities.
  10. Anything else helpful and specific to your event.
  11. If they need anything to come to you.

Setting up your location.


So your event is starting in a few hours, you're at your location and they hand you the keys. You have some time to set that sucker up for your guests. Here's what you'll need to do:
  • Run extension cords and/or power strips from the outlets.
  • Set up your tables and chairs.
  • Set out the trash cans.
  • Place down your switches in centralized locations and wire them up.
  • Test your network!
  • Signs to point out the event location, bathroom, exit, etc.
  • Set up the registration table.
  • Make any final changes to the guest handout.
  • Copy the handout for the guest registration table.
  • Close off any forbidden areas.
  • Prepare and set out snack food.
  • Start a few game servers for the first guests.
  • Suck it up and start greeting people! It's party time!
A note on cables.
Make sure power and networking cables are clearly marked and secured with duct tape, twist ties, and/or floor matts. Otherwise, guests may accidentally trip on the cables and inadvertently take down sections of your power and network.

When your guests begin to arrive:
  1. Greet and introduce yourself to your attendee.
  2. Sign them in off of your guest list or have them register then sign in.
  3. Collect any registration fees.
  4. Give them a quick tour. Show them the bathroom and to their seat.
  5. Show them which power outlet and network switch to plug into.
  6. Introduce them to fellow hosts and fellow guests.

Once everyone is getting settled in, you're ready to turn your attention to the party itself!



Next section: At your LAN Party!