LAN gaming: a vanishing phenomenon

Playing games on a PC with friends over the internet is easy to set up nowadays. All you need is a decent internet connection and a PC that can handle the games. This used to be less self-evident in the past when the internet was (often) slower and less easy to access.

A past large LAN-party.

LAN or Local Area Network (generally known as a LAN-party) was a good solution to this problem. Any number of people could come together to connect their PC to a local network to play computer games in the same room. In this way the issue of a slow connection speed was removed. The first LAN-party’s took place in the 90s when network systems became affordable for the average consumer. It is a nice way to spend time with friends when it was organised on a small scale.

There are also LAN-party’s that are organised on a large scale. These large events have mostly vanished in the last decade. The largest organised event in the Netherlands had over 2500 players and was organised by Netgamez. The largest event that still exists in the Benelux is The-Party which has around 1300 computer places. The large LAN-party’s are often associated with game tournaments where prizes can be won.

My experience with LAN-party’s

The LAN-party’s in which I participated were of a smaller scale with no more than ten people. It did not start because of poor internet speeds but because it seemed a fun idea. In fact we first started to play games over Skype and only after this we began a LAN-party, this was around 2013. In the first years we did around five LAN-party’s, around one for each holiday-period.

The games that we played have changed a lot over the years but a few tend to return each year. These are: Golf with your friends, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, Grand Theft Auto V and Civilization VI.

Each LAN-party also has it’s fair share of technical difficulties. There are of course connection problems that can occur. Sometimes it was actually easier to have two people that had a laptop connected to the Wi-Fi instead of the normal cable connection. Most games use an internet connection for local games instead of the traditional LAN connection. Problems with different game versions also arose from time to time. Overall the LAN-parties are more fun than playing the games with Discord or Skype. In the last few years we have only organised around two per year.

A future for LAN-party’s?

Large LAN events might disappear in the future but smaller ones can still exist. Although the The-Party is still an example of a large event within the Benelux. A LAN connection will also become obsolete over time as there are less games that support it. Games over an internet connection will still be available. I think that the traditional definition of LAN-party’s will disappear but that the need for playing (PC) games with friends in a physical space will remain.