Maybe getting our friends into the same apartment, so that we can each unload a virtual Uzi 9 mm machine pistol into the others’ backs, would be fun.
And as if by magic the LAN party was born.
Many of you may recall Doom, Duke Nukem, or Descent, as a positive way to eat up idle office time; stalking, sniping and trying to hunt – Adam who works in marketing.
When these computer games rose to popularity in the mid-90s, it was the local area network, or LAN, that so swiftly brought them notoriety. Though they were playable over the Internet, only 28.8 kbit/s modems were in use, which meant lag and a delayed effect to all the action; but the office network offered the ample, blood-spilling in real-time, 1000 Mbit/s of bandwidth between the computers.
This experience can easily be recreated today, and courtesy of the laptop, with relatively little fuss – it has been said that this is the most fun than can be had with a computer, more than surfing pictures of Britney’s beaver and Paris’s pooper.
The location you choose will depend on the numbers you invite. Though events are organized in warehouses with participants in to the thousands, a more intimate setting in a friend’s apartment is more realistic, with say up to 10 players.
So every gamer will need a laptop, and the more RAM you have, the better. This random access memory allows the many billion of calculations that need to be made by the computer processors, as you play, to be made all the quicker – no less than a gigabyte will do.
Even more technically, players will need a hub, sometimes referred to as a switch, that each need to plug their laptop into via a network cable. But, if you have wireless, then life will be easier. Make sure to optimize all your equipment before the party itself. This starts with cleaning your mouse and mat, screens or monitors, and keyboards; but should also extend to defragging your hard drive and getting any updates for the operating system, anti-virus and firewall software.
LAN parties can go on for as long as you like and are typically no shorter than 12 hours and as such you will need sustenance. Fuel should be of the high in fat, but low in nutrients variety – think Smiley’s, Cook Door, or Mo’men – pizza is also a regular attendee at LAN parties, but whatever you do decide to order, don’t forget a two litre bottle of pop, each.
You must also consider the electricity supply and ventilation. Egyptian winters are ideal for LAN parties as you won’t need any air conditioning. This factor alone may be enough to prevent a fuse blowing or tripping your circuit breaker. But if this does happen: make sure you unplug superfluous appliances before you change the fuse or flip the circuit breaker, otherwise you will still be drawing the same amount of power that caused the fuse to blow in the first place. The heat from all the laptops, and the furious game playing, will keep your apartment warm, and you will likely be opening your windows for air.
Although many party hosts, particularly Egyptian hosts, will think that they should cover operating costs. And there is really no need for this. Feeding 10 people for more than 12 hours is no joke and could result in a bill of several hundred pounds – and things get expensive quickly with the more people that attend and the longer the games go on for. So unless you are charging a cover fee, everyone should bring something consumable. Even if you were to charge for entrance, then everyone could still bring something to eat or drink, and the fee could be put towards tournament prizes.
Network gaming is well demonstrated with the real-time strategy game Command & Conquer Generals. With as few as three or four players, each with their own laptop, you can attempt to pummel the life out of your buddies with the arsenal available at your finger tips. And what an arsenal it is; just imagine being able to carpet bomb Sherif’s dug-in republican guards, while making Wessam fend off your Apache helicopter attack on his mineral processing plant, and at the same time telling the spy that you snuck into Bassam’s armoury to go postal.
But you should have a couple of other games on hand. A racing game will refresh players’ reflexes after the tension of a real-time strategy gaming session, and a first-person shooter – the genre to first use the term frag, meaning to kill another person’s avatar – will guarantee a rowdy time is had by all.
A small LAN party can be organized in a matter of hours, yet potentially continue for a day or two; with each gamer fused to their mouse, munching on sugar and salt snacks, devoted to beating their mates into the ground, and loving every frag-tastic minute of it.