LAN Survival GuideOk, so you’ve booked your ticket and you’re already to go to your first commercial LAN. This is going to be a big event with more than the usual few mates that you’ve had at other LANs. There’s going to be far more to do, more to see and more to play than you’ve experienced before. It’s essential that you go well prepared or you’ll flake out after the first day so with this in mind, here’s a quick guide on how to survive.
Before setting off:
1) Figure out the best way to get there with the kit you’ll be taking. What looks like a short walk from the tube station could end up making you wish you’d hired a sherpa to carry your gear.
2) Pack only what you really need. As nice as your 21” monitor is, how are you going to get it through the ticket barrier… let alone carry your other stuff? Think about hiring kit at the LAN to minimise the amount you have to take. Check and double check that you have all the games you want to play ON DISK. Most hosts will have the latest patches available at the LAN, but that’s no good if you’ve not brought the game in the first place, is it?
3) Pack stuff for you too! Of course your rig is the most important thing, but LANs are social events too. Though washing facilities might be at a premium, that’s no excuse to wear the same t-shirt for three days. Take plenty of deodorant and you’ll come away having made some great friends… go around being smelly and you’ll be lucky to get a game of Tetris.
4) You wouldn’t believe how furry your mouth can feel after three days of Coke, Pringles and pizza, so pack a toothbrush and toothpaste and keep them in a polythene back… there’s nothing worse than delving in your pack to find two day old underwear wrapped around your toothbrush. Also, with LANs becoming ever bigger and more popular, you might find yourself with a chance of pulling the man/woman of your dreams… Take it from me, chicks dig guys who suck at CS.
5) Find out the LAN rules. These will be clearly stated on the LAN website. READ THEM! Unless you want to get kicked out and have wasted your money, that is. Respect the rules, they are there for a reason and though it might be cool to swap ripped copies of games, just wait until you either get a virus or get caught. Standing in the rain trying to shelter your rig from the elements at 2 in the morning isn’t anyone’s idea of fun.
At the LAN
1) Arrive in plenty of time to set up. Sod’s law comes into full force here. You can guarantee that now matter how thorough you’ve been, you WILL leave something behind. Get there early, get set up and sort out any problems straight away so you don’t miss any of the action. Then take revenge on the smug git who loaned his spare keyboard by crow-barring his face to mush in HL2.
2) Find out where everything is first. Take 10 minutes to have a look around and familiarise yourself with the venue. Find out where the nearest loos and the quietest loos are. Take a browse round the booths if there are any. Find out what food there is on offer. Have a look around to see where the best place to doss down is. All of these things make for a much easier gaming experience because at 3.30am, you won’t be in a fit state to figure it out, so find out now and save yourself loads of hassle.
3) Socialise! Yes, look across at the guy next to you and say hello. If you’re not going to talk to anyone else then you might’ve well stayed at home, saved your entry fee and not talked to anyone there either. LANs are THE place to improve your game, so talk to others and learn from them. You never know, you might find that you actually have something to show them!
4) Ration your gaming. This one sounds obvious, but with so many people playing at once, its very easy to get caught up in the game and not stop for hours. Take at least 10 minutes break every hour and actually get up and move around. All big LANs have security nowadays, so your kit will be quite safe. Oh yes, there’s an unwritten rule: Touch someone else’s machine without permission and you lose a limb… Harsh maybe, but it protects your rig too!
5) Don’t be late for any tournaments you singed up for. Big LANs fit a lot of gaming into a short space of time. DON’T BE LATE! They won’t wait for you and you’ll lose by default... becoming bitter and twisted because you missed out on your chance of gaming glory is my job… so make sure your bum is that chair at the right time, boyo!
6) Have fun! Even if the most annoying guy in the world thoroughly trounces you, be a good sport. It is just a game after all. No-one likes a sulker, so tuck that bottom lip back in and play nice, stroppy.
7) Eat and sleep. Sounds daft, I know, but it’s easy to forget. The best way is to allocate times to yourself and make sure you stick to them. Eat sensibly and drink lots, you’d be amazed how quickly you de-hydrate. If you start to feel feint or sick, stop playing and take a break. Let the person next to you know you’re not feeling well. Once you pass out, they’ll be able to go through your pockets easier knowing you’re unconscious, then they’ll get you some help.
Right, that’s about all I can think of for now, I’m sure that there are lots of tips that others have, such as favourite LAN food and drink, so why not pop over to the forums to have gander at other peoples suggestions for surviving a LAN.