What Is A LAN?
LAN is the acronym for Local Area Network, which refers to a group of computers linked together. This link, or network, allows the computers to access each others files, printers and other resources. In the case of a gaming LAN the network is also used to connect to games running on other computers and play against other network users.
By "Local" we are referring to a network contained in a single building or campus. The Internet is also a network, but is what we refer to as a "Wide Area Network" because it is world wide.
So it's your first LAN, not sure what to expect? Well here's some tips on how to prepare for an upcoming LAN so you can make the most of your time at the event.
Firstly, before even contemplating connecting your computer to a LAN, you should always ensure your computer has antivirus software installed. This software will use 'virus definitions' to identify and protect your computer from infection. Therefore these definitions must be current to be effective, preferably updated no more than 1 or 2 days before the LAN. You should also have an active firewall. If you don't have a 3rd party firewall installed (for example Norton Internet Security) you should make sure the Windows Firewall is turned on. To check your Windows Firewall follow these instructions:Windows XP
- Click "Start" and select "Control Panel".
- Double click "Windows Firewall". Here you can see whether your firewall is on or off.
- Click "Start".
- Type "firewall" into the "Search programs and files" box.
- In the search results click on "Windows Firewall".
- On this screen you can see if your firewall is on or off.
- In the event your firewall is off, you can enable it on the left of the screen.
In addition to this it is important to have the current Windows updates installed to ensure there are no potential security leaks through which a virus could enter your system. To do this you must be connected to the internet.Windows XP
- Click "Start".
- Select "Run" and type in "wupdmgr" and hit enter. This will open a webpage that will take you through the updating process.
- Simply scan for and install the critical Windows updates to add extra protection for your PC.
- Click "Start".
- Type "update" into the "Search programs and files" box.
- In the search results click on "Windows Update".
- You can now click "Check for updates" to scan for new Windows updates.
- If new updates are found simply click the "Install updates" button.
So now it's safe for you to connect to the network, next there's a couple of things to check to ensure you will have access to the network's games and resources. After all, that is the entire point of attending.
In order to receive an IP address, a unique number assigned to your computer to identify it on the network, your computer must be configured to obtain an address automatically. You can easily check this in your network card's TCP/IP properties, which can be found by following the below instructions: Windows XP
- Right click on "My Network Places" and select "Properties".
- Right click on "Local Area Connection" and once again select "Properties".
- On the "General" tab of the properties box, scroll down until you find "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)". Double click this.
- On this screen both "Obtain an IP address automatically" and "Obtain DNS server address automatically" should both be checked.
- Now just click "OK" until all the dialogue boxes are closed.
- Click "Start".
- Type "connections" into the "Search programs and files" box.
- In the search results click on "View network connections".
- Right click on "Local Area Connection" and choose "Properties".
- Double click on "Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)"
- On this screen "Obtain an IP address automatically" and "Obtain DNS server address automatically" should both be checked.
- Now just click "OK" and close all the dialogue boxes.
With all that out of the way you should be able to plug into the LAN and access all it's resources including joining mutliplayer games hosted on the network. But in order to successfully join game servers you must have the game installed and be running the correct game version. Installing and updating games can be quite time consuming, time you could be devoting to playing the games. I recommend installing any games that are likely to be played ahead of time and ensuring you are running the latest version of each. Game updates can be downloaded from the website of the company who released them. If you don't know what games to expect, this can usually be found in the LAN's discussion thread located in the forums of the LAN host. On this site the discussion takes place in the LANOTD section
of the forums.
Now you should be well prepared to experience the exhilaration of computer gaming LANs at their best…that is assuming you haven't over looked the necessity of a network card…