An Overview of LAN Parties
By now, most gamers know what a LAN Party is, right? Well, if you don't, you're slow ;-) and here's an explanation for you... A LAN party is where gamers gather together to play multiplayer video games on a local area network. Most of these parties are fairly small and require gamers to bring their own computers, usually meeting up to play at a mutual friend's house. At first, LAN parties were just for computer gaming, but now gamers are bringing their consoles to the party as well. Before high-speed internet was common in every household, meeting up with friends to play on a local area network was the best way to engage in some fun multiplayer action. Some of these parties are extremely small, ranging from two people to just a few dozen people. However, some of these parties are very large, consisting of hundreds or thousands of gamers.
It is common for players to bring energy drinks and snacks to the party, simply because they often stay up until the early morning hours. Sometimes these parties will go for entire weekends, meaning many of the players don't get sleep for over 48 hours. The host will usually set aside a designated area for those who can't keep their eyes open, but this is something that varies from party to party. In most cases, the host of the party will supply the food, and it's usually asked that participants bring in food to chip in as well. When you are staying up all night you will need food and caffeine, but many players have ended up in the hospital due to dehydration. Bring water to prevent a negative experience; your health is not worth winning a game.
LAN Parties Losing Gamers?
So why did LAN parties lose their popularity? Well, the times have changed and people no longer have to meet up and bring their computers just to engage in exciting multiplayer action. Not only that, but some games take up so much bandwidth that it's hard for people to host LAN parties for them. However, there is no other gaming experience that can compare to spending time with your best friends and shooting it out over a local area network. Over the internet is alright, but come on, who wants to play alone?
How Things Have Changed
Things have changed a great deal over the years, as console gaming made it easy for gamers to play with other players from around the world. Nowadays you don't have to invite friends over or go to a LAN party just to have a great multiplayer experience, and this is probably why LAN parties are not as common as they used to be. It's also very difficult to put together a party when everyone is addicted to playing on Xbox Live or PSN, which is much more convenient. In contrast, LAN parties have changed so that gamers can bring their Xbox 360s and PS3s.
So, LAN parties have become unpopular in recent years due to online gaming, but there is not a better social gaming experience out there. Did the LAN party fall as online gaming became popular? That's what it looks like, although online gaming is often a big part of these gaming parties so it is hard to say. LAN parties are often sponsored by big computer companies like Alienware, NVidia, and Cooler Master. These larger, sponsored parties are definitely not a thing of the past, as companies realize the importance of such events. Prizes are often rewarded at sponsored events, so gamers can have an awesome experience that wasn't possible when LAN parties were still new. Maybe LAN parties got better, or just bigger?
Before you go to a LAN party and put your computer on the same network as other gamers, make sure you are not sharing your important files. Double-check to make sure you are not sharing your system or personal files, as you never know what kind of hackers are attending the party. Another important thing is making sure you have a firewall installed and running, because viruses have infected entire parties in the past and it can happen to you.
With that said, security should not be a problem at all. As for physical items, keep them close but don't stress about it. Theft is a very rare thing at LAN parties and you shouldn't get anything stolen unless you leave it out in the open, out of your sight. Security issues have definitely not contributed to the fall of LAN parties.
The Future of LAN Parties
LAN parties are not going away anytime soon, as any real gamer will enjoy staying up all night to play some multiplayer games with a bunch of their friends. If you don't enjoy that, then what kind of gamer are you? Split-screen multiplayer was all some people had growing up, but younger people are growing up with online gaming and don't realize how fun it is to play video games with other players in the same room. LAN parties will probably become larger, but who knows how next generation consoles can might things?
The future of LAN parties looks uncertain, although if big companies keep hosting them then they might gain popularity once again. In contrast, if online gaming continues to dominate like it is currently then that might cut out all the smaller parties, only leaving room for the sponsored ones. If you and your friend both play online then it is unlikely that you will bring your computer or gaming console to his or her house just to play multiplayer, but if there's a large event that all your friends are going to then that might sound more appealing. Players want to win prizes, and that is generally what sponsored events are all about.
Various entrepreneurs eventually caught on to social gaming events like LAN parties and opened up LAN gaming centers in the past. Many of these have died out over the years as Online Gaming became more prominent, however it is possible that they might see a resurgance with competitive being all the rage these days (See MLG, etc) and more gaming centers could potentially open up to profit from the players.
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