Volume 77 | Issue 3
May 2009

Operations considerations for video game tournaments

Many college unions are being asked to host video game tournaments or LAN parties, gatherings in which individuals bring their own computers and compete in multiplayer video games. These can be large or small, but often require unusual set-up needs compared to more traditional events. Each attendee will bring a laptop or computer and monitor and join a special private network created specifically for the event. Be prepared for a strain on power sources, tight spaces, and uncooperative guests. That said, these events can be a way to draw a segment of the campus community when the events are appropriately planned and managed.


Unreliable power is the No. 1 LAN party killer. People will be angry when their computer unexpectedly shuts down. Therefore, acquire all the necessary power equipment so as not to trip the circuit breaker. Distribution boxes have multiple 20 amp circuits. A guideline is four gamers on a 15-amp circuit and six gamers on a 20-amp circuit.
The number of amps drawn by a computer depends on the wattage rating of the power supplies, which for many gamers can be as much as 900 watts. It also depends on the voltage. Most facilities will be running 110v, but 220v split into multiple circuits would be a better power structure to handle more computers.
Run power strips to each table to evenly distribute power, and make sure the gamers know which outlet they should use and that they are plugged into their designated sockets. Do not let people plug into each other’s power strips, or “daisy chain.”
Although the host should not need to provide network patch cables and power strips for each gamer, someone always forgets theirs. Organizers might want to have spares on hand.
It’s a good idea to check every circuit and map it out on a piece of paper, hand out a copy to everyone, and label each outlet. Be careful with refrigerators and air conditioning being on the same circuit as PCs. When their compressors turn on, they draw a lot of power.

Room set-up

Six-foot tables work well for two gamers and 8-foot tables can fit three gamers with a bit of a squeeze.
Make sure the room is well-cooled, as the gaming equipment will heat up the room quickly.
Keep the cables neat and out of the way to prevent tripping. Consider taping cables down as one would for a concert.
Students may want to try classic LAN party games, like dodgeball, hard drive shuffleboard, and power supply chuckin’ to get gamers up and moving. Have a clearly designated area for such activities and for food if permitted.


Tournaments with only the newest games will alienate gamers with older PCs, and they may be frustrated on site. Tournament planners should decide the game, format, rules, and maps and alert participants in advance. One major point is to make sure the organization is allowed to serve the game. A lot of software companies have strict rules about a LAN party featuring their games.
A few days before the LAN, download the latest patches, mods, and maps for the tournament games. Organize them onto a shared folder on a dedicated fileserver. This way, gamers can update their games without overloading the Internet connection. Alternatively, these files can be burned to CDs to hand out to the attendees.
Software like Autonomous LAN Party can help track the tournament ladders.


Unfortunately, theft is a reality at LAN parties. Have only one entrance and exit, and have someone there watching who comes and goes and with what. Label anything that is not nailed down, especially as the cost-to-size ratio goes up. (A thumb drive needs a label, whereas the tables probably not.)
IT security is a broad and complex topic that certainly relates to LAN parties. While campus IT professionals can assist with details, there are some basic considerations about which facility managers should ask. Managers will likely want to completely segment a LAN party from the organization’s actual network. Within the LAN party network, it is a good idea to know how the game communicates with other computers and servers. This can allow whoever sets up the network to restrict access as much as possible. For example, one gamer might maliciously install a virus on someone else’s computer while at a LAN party. The organization and facility also would not want to be responsible for what someone might have on their personal computer. It may be a good idea to have all guests sign a release of liability to mitigate these kinds of potential problems.
While this article provides guidance for professional facilities managers, it’s also important for participants to know what to expect. With this in mind, staff might want to prepare instructions and clarify expectations for participants.

SOURCE: - The How-To Manual That Anyone Can Write or Edit