How to Play Multiplayer Console Games on a LAN
Gathering your buddies in the same room to play games means you need to know how to play multiplayer console games on a LAN. Console multiplayer gaming has moved online, but it’s still fun to share a screen or multiple screens for a little fun and competition with your closest buds.
Unlike with online matches, there is something more personal about playing multiplayer console games on a LAN, having all the participants in one location while the fragging and smack talk occurs.
Hosting a LAN party for your friends is actually a fairly simple affair that requires a little logistics and a lot of caffeine.
Starting small and with a few games is key. This how to outlines the basics you need to know to turn your basement or garage into a den of gamers while you play multiplayer console games on a LAN.
- Internet Connection
- Router or Network Switch (wireless optional)
- Network Cables(optional)
- Tables & Chairs
- TVs or Monitors for each console
- System Link Cables (Optional for 360)
- Spare controllers
Time to Install:30 minutes
Table of Contents
- Step 1: Preparations
- Step 2: Setting up the Space
- Step 3: Set up the Power and Network
- Step 4: Decide on Your Games
- Step 5: Decide the Ground Rules and Maps for Custom Match Types
- Step 6: Plan for Fun
Many little complications will arise while hosting multiplayer console games on a LAN and you’re responsible as the host so be prepared for the unexpected. The most common problems tend to be power, network or software related.
Step 1: Preparations
The first step in playing console games on a LAN is pretty simple and find some friends to play with. Then once you have an idea of how many people are coming you should locate a suitable space with power, facilities and space. It seems obvious but you should make sure you know who is bringing TVs or large LCD monitors so you can plan accordingly.
Here is a simple checklist of what you need to have to help in planning forplaying multiplayer console games on a LAN:
- Do you have enough table space? Chairs?
- Do you have enough power outlets/power strips?
- Do you know what games you plan to play?
- Are you providing food? Cooking out? Ordering Pizza?
- Do you have the necessary gear to set up a network?
- Is the network going to be wired or wireless?
- Do you have Internet? Do your games require Internet?
Step 2: Setting up the Space
Once you have the basics answered, you need to find an appropriate place to hold your LAN. Smaller LAN parties don’t require a whole lot of room except if you want to segregate the players to prevent LAN hacking/screen peeking.
Here are some suggestions on the types of places that work to host multiplayer console game LANs:
- Unfinished basements and depending on size can fit 5-10 gamers
- 2-Car Garage and 10-15 gamers
- Backyard party tent and 10-20 gamers, but not great during the day
- College computer lab/Union space and varies may even include computers
- Warehouse or Office space and varies but could host large gatherings
- Elks Lodge/banquet hall and lots of room, very little infrastructure support
- Hotel meeting space and often includes Internet, power and tables but not cheap
There are plenty of other venues but no matter what you choose consider any cost involved:
- Do you need to pay for power?
- Does it have an Internet connection already?
- Is noise going to be a problem?
- Does it cost you anything? If so how much can your gamers contribute?
- Are tables/chairs included or available?
Once you nail down the location the next step is arranging tables and chairs for the event.
Planning gaming space is fairly simple and 2 people (with console and monitor) is a good estimate per 6 foot table. Multiplayer console games often offer split-screen play so consider that as well when setting up a place for the gamers to play. If you’re using existing furniture well anything goes.
Step 3: Set up the Power and Network
The biggest hassle at any LAN is inconsistent power or losing power mid game. Consider that most TV setups need 2 outlets of power. (1 for the console, 1 for monitor/TV) so in the best case you need one 6-outlet power strip per 2 tables. Also it is important to ensure that players are careful where they plug in. Players are likely to come and go and some likely are bringing their own consoles and TVs from home. If the event is a day-long experience plan ahead to help keep interruptions to a minimum.
Playing games together requires a network. Building a multiplayer console game network can be very simple provided you do some basic planning. First, know what sort of network you plan to build and make sure you have the hardware to support it.
Gaming networks generally require a connection service or router/hub and adequate cabling. You can use just about any type of switch or hub to make the setup easy. Multi-port switches are actually fairly affordable and if you plan to hold these events regularly consider asking your regulars to pitch in and help you buy some home network gear like a Linksys home switch/hub. It’s also fairly easy to find 48 or more ports networking gear cheap on eBay as well.
Xbox 360 LANs differ a bit from PS3 setups because the Xbox 360 supports System Link cables or traditional networks. Xbox 360 systems connected via the system link interface require a hub between consoles and a system link cable for each of the up to 8 Xbox 360 systems. Also many multiplayer console games require a connection to the internet to enable DLC or add on content. Me sure to keep that in mind if you are not planning to connect the systems to Xbox Live!
Each player using the wired network needs a single port. 10/100 switches are all you really need in terms of speed, gigabit Ethernet is faster but not really an advantage in a console LAN network.
If you are using a wired network, you should plan your space to make sure all the players can reach the router or switch. If players are bringing their own cables, it might be helpful to know how far they reach and to possibly buy some to cover when people forget and leave them at home connected to their modem or home router.
Wireless networks are less of a problem space-wise but it is recommended you use wireless encryption on any public wireless router so be sure to have copies of the network passphrase and configuration information handy and i.e. You need to know if you use WPA, WEP, WPA2 and how friends need to connect to the wireless network.
Step 4: Decide on Your Games
What’s a multiplayer console game LAN without games? You should already have a good idea what games you and your guests like to play together. It’s a good idea a week or so before the party to identify the primary multiplayer console games that everyone will be playing and make sure you have enough copies. Since multiplayer console games often require every player own a copy of the game this can have a big impact on game selection. For instance, everyone who brings an Xbox 360 console needs a copy of Halo: ODST if you want to host over 4 people in the match.
- Call of Duty series (360 and PS3)
- Halo series (360)
- Resistance series (PS3)
- Gears of War series(360)
- Rock Band (360,PS3, Wii)
- Guitar Hero (360, PS3, Wii)
Step 5: Decide the Ground Rules and Maps for Custom Match Types
Preparation also means identifying how you might play your favorite multiplayer console games. Are there particular maps that everyone needs? Are they DLC? You should discuss any purchases your friends might need to make before the party to keep everyone included.
Also, consider that some games have custom rules and not everyone will enjoy every variation of a game like Slayer on Halo 3. Poll the group to see if there are particular rules or game modes that they prefer and plan to include them.
Also if you plan to use tournament brackets you can track everything on paper or use software like Autonomous LAN Party to handle the scoring/results.
Step 6: Plan for Fun
LANs are not all about gaming folks. You should make sure you also have other activities planned for your event. People can’t play games forever (and not everyone will want to play the game of choice all the time). Most people will want to take breaks or occupy themselves while waiting for tournaments or other matches to finish.
Be sure to have soda and chips or other easy gamer foods on hands for people to munch on. Decide early on what the take out situation will be and agree on toppings or pre-order the Pizza and collect money so it doesn’t derail the fun.
It never hurts to have an extra TV and Xbox, Wii or PS3 set up with party games like Guitar Hero, Rock Band or Dance Dance Revolution to get people moving while they wait on the tournaments to end.
Multiplayer Console game LAN planning might seem like a lot of work, but when things go smoothly it leads to an exciting time with your friends. A little forethought will make things easier but it won’t guarantee that things go flawlessly, problems are inevitable at a LAN but you should be prepared to handle them if you followed this how to.
It is possible to throw an impromptu multiplayer console game LAN, but a little planning goes a long way. No one wants to be playing host when they could be executing the perfect head shot on their friends.