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What are LAN Parties, and How Can You Have One in Your Office?

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A descriptive web post on how to organise and set up a LAN party describes it as “a great American nerd pastime”. Others take game-playing parties more seriously, and recommend them as a team building activity that can be arranged as short interval breaks at the office.

The idea of implementing game-playing parties in the office during short lunch and coffee breaks may raise some controversy and diametrically opposed views. Proponents of this type of activity claim that game-playing intervals produce stress relief, relaxation, productivity improvement, and team building as major benefits. Game-playing LAN parties are more suitable in office environments where work routines involve computer or administrative work. It might be an idea to ask around to see who would be interested in this before beginning organisation.

People who advocate game playing LAN parties emphasise that they would only be implemented as short 3-10 minute increments in which workers come together for relaxation and enjoyment. In turn, this would produce both cognitive and team relationship benefits.

Cognitive benefits

  • Computer games played in 3-10 minute increments improve body circulation, in the same manner as a quick series of stretching exercises or a brisk walk
  • Game playing improves concentration and productivity
  • Participation provides mental stimulation and enhances mental activity.

As for the games themselves, studies have found that computer strategy games provide cognitive benefits.

  • Certain games can help train people in business practices
  • Game situations can represent challenges similar to those found in business, such as resource allocation and critical response scenarios
  • Strategy games like StarCraft II can improve cognitive flexibility and improve decision making.

Social benefits

  • Participation in LAN parties facilitates team building in that it forges working relationships and bridges unfamiliarity between staff members
  • Team building and bonding between employees can happen in a relaxed environment in which people can get to know each other
  • The brief game playing intervals provide enjoyment and escape from work stress
  • LAN parties forge a united team.

So, how to go about planning and setting up a LAN party at work? If intervals of game-playing is the theme of such parties, then you need some sys-admin skills to organise them.

Resources required

This largely depends on the IT infrastructure already in place in your office, so you need to engage or consult the IT staff. Essential requirements include:

  • A game server, or space allocation on an existing office server
  • A router and a network switch which provides one network port per participant
  • LAN infrastructure such as 10/100Base-T equipment
  • 100Base-Tx network cable/s
  • The PCs utilised should have network cards installed and TCP/IP configured
  • Power distribution to each individual PC
  • Tables and seating for participants.

An optional requirement is software likeLanHUB andAutonomous LAN Party, which would help the organiser to track results.

Finally, the game format and rules need to be determined.

What games to play

The game selection is best conducted as a team effort. Depending on resources available, the following game titles are popular for LAN parties:

  • Warcraft 3
  • The Worms Series
  • Company of Heroes
  • Unreal Tournament
  • Counter-Strike
  • Team Fortress 2

With a little organisation, a LAN Party could be an exciting addition to your office environment which would certainly break up the working week.

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