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Network Games Idle

Inside the World's Largest LAN Party 199

MrSeb writes "Last weekend, over 12,000 LAN party goers turned up at DreamHack Winter 2011 in Jonkoping, Sweden with a PC under the arm, on their back, or packed carefully in the trunk of their car. Every single attendee is squeezed into just three massive halls — the largest holding 5,000 computers — or four days, only taking brief breaks to sleep or check out one of the many stages (including some of the largest e-sport tournaments of the year). Being the largest LAN party in the world, DreamHack's infrastructure is suitably monumental: it takes days to lay the thousands of cables, and at the heart of the network is tower of Cisco routers that interface with a 120Gbps internet connection provided by Telia."
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Inside the World's Largest LAN Party

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  • by tedgyz ( 515156 ) * on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @09:21PM (#38221662) Homepage

    Think of the smell.

    • by masternerdguy ( 2468142 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @09:27PM (#38221710)
      But it helps grow bacteria. By not bathing, you're creating millions of lives.
    • by MrSeb ( 471333 ) <> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @09:31PM (#38221748) Homepage

      FWIW, I'm a long-time LANner, and yeah... the smell can sometimes be pretty pungent.

      Often the main problem is trying to provide enough showers for 1,000 people or more. Most of these venues are set up to provide showers for just a few people (usually sports athletes or similar). Some LAN parties try to get around this by bringing in a hoard of portable showers (and toilets!), but it's still impossible for everyone to shower in the morning (or evening).

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        FWIW, I'm a long-time LANner, and yeah... the smell can sometimes be pretty pungent.

        Part of this seems to be that on no LAN party I've ever seen, have the age limits been enforced.
        Younger = smellier.

        Another logistical error is to have the parties during winter. People arrive dressed for cold, not realizing that with 1000 people and 1500 computers in one room, cold is not going to be a problem.

        The earliest LAN parties I remember had a smell of tobacco and beer, not teen sweat.

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      If they are are true gamers their rigs will provide enough venting.

    • You mean that haze floating over the crowd in the photo?

    • by mixmasta ( 36673 )

      It should be pretty easy to end the sweat immediately during a swedish winter... open the door.

  • Recipe For Disaster (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BLT2112 ( 1372873 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @09:23PM (#38221666)
    With all the things that usually go wrong at my LAN parties of 4-8 people, I can only imagine the potential frustration at a gig like this!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ..duplicate name detected, IP address conflict. How many of them forget to switch from static IP addressing to dynamic?

    • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @09:36PM (#38221818)

      The power requirements alone must be enormous. Most buildings are simply not wired to handle an inrush of 12000 monitors, and the computers they are hooked to.

      It must have required totally separate power structures and a totally separate power feed separate from the building mains. This wasn't held at a typical office building, but rather in an empty-shell type of auditorium.

      Check out the air quality in picture 2 vs picture 3.

      • Check out the air quality in picture 2 vs picture 3.

        Yeah.... in retrospect, having Taco Bell provide the catering was a bad idea.

      • Also we aren't talking mid range Dell's with a 400 watt power supply. We're talking fully geeked out gaming systems with video cards that draw up to 400 watts on their own... Including dual and triple GPU configurations, we're talking systems ranging from 600 watts to 1600 watts.

        I almost can't believe there wasn't a fire...
        • by Shinobi ( 19308 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @03:43AM (#38223982)

          Actually, monster rigs are discouraged, and in fact, many just bring laptops and a standalone monitor.

          In fact, power consumption is rationed at the event:

          ÃÂÃ 5.3 Each Table Seat may use an average of 275W. Please observe that the effect your power supply can handle is not the same as what it uses! More information on this can be read under the [Information: Electricity and net info] section on DreamHackâ(TM)s website.

          That average covers not just the computer+screen, but also if you charge your cellphone or camera. You're not allowed to bring hot plates, microwave ovens etc.

          Then there's the fire hazard rules....

      • There probably is quite some power available. At the walls somewhere, where you can plug in some heavy duty cables or so. No idea how they do it exactly, but this is not the only type of event that needs a lot of power: concerts, but also trade shows with their well-lit booths, or even sports events that need enough light for the TV cameras. OK the latter's power supply will be relatively small but still it's a lot.

        Now this are 12,000 participants, say 1,000 W available for each, that's 12 MW. About 10,000

    • But I'd rather have seen pictures (and diagrams and configs) of how they laid out the power and switches. And what problems they ran into and how they plan to solve them for the next time they run this.

      No matter how much thought and planning you put into the infrastructure, the users will always surprise you with some new problem.

      But that setup must have rocked for torrents.

    • with that many people and with stuff that is easy to take and sneak out as well people failing a sleep at the systems is't bond to happen or at least have people try to do it.

      • You can make a PCI blank with a set of crenellations in; Loop your peripheral cables through said crenellations, padlock your case shut, lock it to the desk and you're good.

        You can also buy expansion blanks with the crenellations already in, but you've probably got a load laying about anyway....
  • by MrSeb ( 471333 ) <> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @09:23PM (#38221672) Homepage

    'or' should be 'for', before 'four days'

  • 120 gbps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lister king of smeg ( 2481612 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @09:25PM (#38221692)

    where can i get that kind of connection speed, and how much does it cost

    • Re:120 gbps (Score:5, Informative)

      by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @09:33PM (#38221788)
      In America, you couldn't get that kind of internet connection even if you had your LAN party inside a major Time Warner Cable network hub. That's slightly exaggerated but only slightly. Sweden has a small physical area and lots of money so just like England, they run fiber everywhere. A population density like that results in REALLY fast network backbones available in close proximity to anything populated or important because it does pay off financially for the ISP.
      • they use that to feed in channels and to link to the VOD super hubs.

      • Re:120 gbps (Score:5, Informative)

        by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:14PM (#38222182)

        You can get that kind of Internet connection in the US, and it's done every year for the ACM/IEEE SC trade show. []

      • Re:120 gbps (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:27PM (#38222286)

        Well, Sweden is approximately the size of California but with only 9.5 million people, so that brings it to spot 195 in the world when it comes to population density...

        • Look at the areas that are actually populated. While Sweden as a whole averages 20.6 people per square kilometer, the more populous provinces go much higher - Uppland has 111.8/km^2, Sodermanland 146.1/km^2, and so on. That's a population density significantly higher than much of the US - roughly on par with New England.

          Another important figure is percentage of population living in an urban area. The US is 82% urban, Sweden 85%. They're essentially similar to the US as far a population density works - they

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by linhux ( 104645 )

            I remind you that the Pirate Party is the third-largest party in Sweden

            I'm sorry to tell you that you're very misinformed. The Swedish parliament is made up of 8 parties, and none of them is the Pirate Party. They received 0.65% of the votes in 2006 and 0.63% in 2010, and 4% is required to get a seat in the parliament, making them very far away from that. (check this: [])

            They did however do much better in the 2009 elections for the EU parliament, where they received over 7% of the Swedish v

            • Re:120 gbps (Score:5, Informative)

              by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @08:04AM (#38224862)

              Quoth Wikipedia:

              In terms of membership, it passed the Green Party in December 2008, the Left Party in February 2009, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats in April 2009,[4][5] and the Centre Party in May 2009, making it, for the time being, the third largest political party in Sweden by membership.

      • Re:120 gbps (Score:4, Informative)

        by Alef ( 605149 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @03:37AM (#38223958)
        Sweden isn't as small as you think. The average population density is around 20 persons per square kilometer, roughly the same as the US I believe. Sure, much of it is concentrated in southern parts, but people have had fiber to the home for close to a decade even in remote areas in the north, where the population density is one person per square kilometer.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As someone from Sweden question some of your claims. Sure, we're a relatively small area compared to some other countries, but our population is only 9 million so the population density isn't all that high. You have cities with more than 9 million in them. I'd also question your claim that we have a lot of money. We're not too bad off but not that different most other western countries. Or maybe you meant that the government has a lot of money due to the high taxes.

        You are right however in that the governme

    • About 60k a month if you do not mind cogent. Do not expect to find that much free bandwidth at any single place.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      From another article the whole equipment setup cost 45 MSEK or about 6.65 million dollars, but that includes the infrastructure to supply 20.000 users. Note that this would be $330/person if they were to actually make this a permanent solution. Bandwidth charges on top of that, since this is pretty much a show-off and experiment, I doubt they pay much. Nor are they normally able to saturate that pipe. Here in Norway at The Gathering we had 100Gbps for 5000 users, the most the users managed to hit was 13 Gbi

      • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

        Actually, 100/100 Mb/s is pretty nice to have in a fairly normal Swedish family nowadays, many ordinary people put it to practical use(something all the beautiful snowflake geeks wish to pretend they don't, just to justify their torrent leeching), what with people uploading to Youtube, uploading photos in high-res, doing their own streaming, as well as them all watching vids etc.

        As for Gigabit, assymetrical is available in some places for residential use here in Sweden. Here in Stockholm it's available in s

  • by Tynin ( 634655 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @09:32PM (#38221780)
    Even with all of that internet facing bandwidth, I've got to imagine that the sneakernet trading of all things digital must be quite prevalent. Or perhaps I'm just remember what happened at all the LAN parties I went to during my high school years (in the 90's). I wonder if they take any precautions on such things or if they turn a blind eye?
    • by Anaerin ( 905998 )
      Enforcing that kind of thing, with that many people around, is next to impossible. Fortunately, most games these days won't connect to multiplayer servers if they've been pirated (unless the server is also modified to allow unauthenticated clients, and an alternate server list is provided/used). But given that LAN bandwidth is considerably greater (100/1000 Mbit, as opposed to 1-5 Mbit) than internet bandwidth (well, usually - in this case, with a 120GB connection maybe not so much), SMB or FTP is a more vi
      • by enoz ( 1181117 )

        I think SMB or FTP would choke, both in terms of bandwidth and in terms of concurrent user limitations if your server became even remotely popular in that situation. Also it's hard to play games while your server is being thrashed.

        • by Anaerin ( 905998 )
          Perhaps, though proper QoS on your system could mitigate any bandwidth issues even while playing, and restricting serving to one of the (now many) cores available in modern systems will ensure the load is minimal. But do bear in mind you have to sleep sometimes. So while you're asleep, your rig can be serving content to all comers.
      • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

        SMB/CIFS is often blocked at events like this.

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      Quakecon (BYOC population 3000 or so, vs 5000 for this lan party) lived and breathed DC++. I'm pretty sure there's a video of the Mister Sinus show getting the entire drunken and rowdy crowd to should "Dee-Cee PLUS PLUS!" over and over. I've never used DC++ outside of Quakecon, but it's use was so prolific that they outright banned it by name in 2011. Bandwidth was never an issue. Many people would set their max upload speed to 0.001kbps for fear of degrading their ping during gaming.

      People would bu

      • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

        Your estimate of the Dreamhack "BYOC" population is on the low side. You can be sure that up above 10k of the 13k+ computers connected to the public LAN at this DHW were strictly BYOC.

        • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

          Whoops, did not read the summary all the way. Three halls, one holding 5000. I read that as a total population of 5000 in the byoc

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @09:46PM (#38221898) Homepage Journal []

    check out the eyes of the guys laughing. thats a real laugh, and their eyes are shining with real happiness. been a while since i saw such people in media images.
  • Those aren't your sub-100W corporate boxes. Rough calculations for gaming PSUs on 230V would be tens of thousands of amps. And good thing it's winter in Sweden!

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      I know that quakecon (about 3000 pcs + displays) brings in multiple generators on semi trucks. All the computers are run from diesel generators that are brought in from offsite, and the only grid power being used is for the air conditioning and the lighting of the building. The odd thing is that a modern 24" display draws about 1.5 amps, roughly what your computer draws. Even a "phat gaming rig" with dual video cards only pulls about 550 watts/1.2 amps while running the water cooler pump and spinning forty

      • by rev0lt ( 1950662 )
        A modern 23" (TFT) display draws less than 40W in use, so at 230V it would be 0.17A. A proliant DL160 with 4 SATA disks and 1xXeon (not a gaming rig!) draws around 160W at bootup. A modern workstation (i3-i5-i7) draws around 70-120W. I have no idea about high-end graphic cards.
        The electrical setup shuldn't be that different from one major venue such as stadio concert or music festival - industrial size diesel generators, usually available at up to 1000kW or more, and somewhat easy to rent. 1000kW is almost
        • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

          I measured the electrical load of every computer in our office. That's a lot of computers. I have the spreadsheets to back it up :)
            Power draw for a standard 17" 4:3 dell LCD display is 0.7 amps, computers are almost universally 1.2-1.3 amps regardless of era. A dell 30" display draws nearly 1.8 amps. 22-24" displays draw 1.5 amps. Again, not theoretical, this is actually metered. We used both a kill-a-watt and clamp meters to independently verify the results.

      • You misunderstand how switching power supplies work.
        They have a sticker number '1000W' - this is (ideally) the maximum amount of power they supply.
        They will also have an efficiency curve, which may vary from - say - 50% at 10W to 90% at 700W, and 80% at 1000W.

        The important thing is the efficiency at the amount the load draws.
        If the efficiency is 90%, the load draws 600W, then the amount drawn from the line is 660W.
        If the load draws 600W, with a 600W power supply that's 80% efficient, it's 750W.

  • by Andrew Lindh ( 137790 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @10:25PM (#38222266)
    One of the photos shows a Cisco 2950T-48 that provides 48 10/100 ethernet ports with 2 GigE uplink ports. This seems like a simple setup for lots of tables. Drop a switch at each table and feed run one cable back to the core switch for the area. If Cisco provided 300 of these switches that gives you 14400 100meg ports for users. Then a few core switches with a stack of non-blocking GigE ports and some 10GB or 40GB uplink ports to the core routers. Easy... I'm sure several companies (or universities) had similar setups. The amazing thing is the built it as a temporary setup. The real job is providing safe power and cooling for all users.... maybe next time they can provide PoE for everyone and require "green" computers! []
    • You are right about that. The power requirements when you get to those scales end up being in many cases more difficult than the networking portion.

      Cooling is another story...I'd imagine at that latitude it's pretty cold outside. Pretty easy to fan in super cold air from the outside. Or maybe they did not need to? The computers provided heat for the building and excess was just faned out instead of in.

    • The LAN parties in Norway that I know of actually own most of the equipment involved. :)

      Companies like Cisco have been known to offer some discounts and/or sponsor the event with equipment. However it's mostly financed by the members and participants themselves.

      Here in Norway I believe they even operate a small company, KANDU, that rents this equipment out where needed [to other LAN parties]. As of 2011 they own 170 48-port gigabit switches, backbone switches, frame relays and much more. The people involved

      • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

        Indeed. Dreamhack is a corporate entity nowadays, and the events are run with a small core of employed people, and a large heap of volunteers(Around 450 people at DHW)

        • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

          Since I forgot to add this in the previous post *Sigh*

          Volunteering for Dreamhack Crew can actually be a pretty good career move for young network techs/admins, to get some solid high intensity practical work to put on their resume, though it's not the only thing volunteers are required for, volunteers also cover sales, ticket checks, security(together with local police and a security company), fire hazard patrols etc.

    • by Alioth ( 221270 )

      I go to Euskal Encounter every year (a LAN party in the Bilbao Exhibition Centre in Bilbao, Spain. I go there to help put on one of the stands, I'm a member of RetroacciÃn, a retrocomputing group, and we put on RetroEuskal which is a zone where you can go to do some classic gaming. That's not to say I don't also get in a few games of Starcraft 2) which has 4096 LAN ports, and this is exactly what they do. 48 port switch at the end of each table, cables laid out to each one.

      Euskal Encounter is quite int

  • with a 120Gbps internet connection

    How do I get one of these run into my apartment?

  • Lan Parties are Dead (Score:5, Informative)

    by Renraku ( 518261 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @01:23AM (#38223364) Homepage

    Back when I was younger, I used to go to LAN parties all the time. Typically with friends, at their place, but twice I went to a big LAN party. In each of the big LAN parties, the drama was almost more overwhelming than the BO. It was like being in a room full of three-days-unbathed tween drama queen girls that were obese and all used to being the center of their own worlds. Tempers flared easily when no one was around to bring everyone snacks and drinks and take away their piss jugs.

    And the thievery. God Jesus did shit ever get stolen. Dozens of people got their shit stolen at both of the big LAN parties I went to. Apparently some shady people would show up with shitty computers, set up a place, and then go around looting. No one would ever think to stop them from walking out with a computer or hardware, because people were doing it all the time. Oh, and the poopsockers. You couldn't play a strategy game without being cheesed to death immediately at the beginning of the game. People with superior skills would send a worker unit over to harass and maybe kill your guys before you could get a soldier out, and then thirty seconds later be in your base with late game units. Oh, and the cheating. People wouldn't admit that their 100% headshot rate and 100:0 kill/death ratio was fake. When they did, cue drama and usually violence.

    In short, fuck big LAN parties. They have none of the charm of the small group gaming sessions, and all of the downsides of playing with a bunch of socially inept nerds with strange senses of humor.

    • by Khan48 ( 1848996 )
      Is this a troll or did you go to LAN parties in the projects? In all seriousness every large LAN I've been to has had no more awkward "nerds" than your average lecture hall or bus ride out in the real world. Some LAN parties have been run poorly others great but LAN parties are dead in about the same way PC gaming is claimed to be dead every 3 years.
      • by sqldr ( 838964 )

        Caught one guy with pants round ankles watching porn at Assembly. If you're just there to play games and not do anything creative, then yeah, you're a nerd.

    • I'm not sure what part of the world you live in, but what you are saying does not apply in Scandinavia [and this article].

    • by Alioth ( 221270 )

      Where were these LAN parties?

      I go to Euskal Encounter every year (in Bilbao, Spain), it's one of the biggest in Europe with over 4000 attendees, and there's never any trouble - the whole thing is always really good natured and fun. Of course the organization is very good, and being held in the BEC there's the usual exhibition centre security staff there (you don't ever want to mess with the Matafrikis, she can kill a man at 50 paces with one lash of her tongue).

    • by sqldr ( 838964 )

      In short, fuck big LAN parties. They have none of the charm of the small group gaming sessions

      Which don't have the charm of demoparties, which Dreamhack once was. Gamers pretty much took over The Gathering, which had a great history of being a 'scene event. Once they'd become disinterested enough to get alcohol banned and refuse to kill audio/lights when what few demos there were got shown (TG even moved the demo stuff into a separate room so they could keep counterstrike crap on the main screen), it was

  • And I thought Euskal Encounter was pretty monumental (big LAN party in the Bilbao Exhibition Centre in Spain every year, which I go to). Here's a couple of pics from the 2010 event (I've been too lazy to upload 2011's pics): [] - the main hall, it's about the size of a football pitch [] - Where many people sleep, another BEC hall full of tents! [] Nolan Bushnell, Atari's founder visited us.

    http []

    • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

      You haven't heard about Dreamhack before? It's been pretty much the biggest since they took the crown from The Gathering back in the early 2000's sometime. They went into Guiness book of world records as the biggest lan party in 2004, and have grown immensely since then.

      • by Alioth ( 221270 )

        I hadn't heard of Dreamhack until I started watching the SC2 tournament held there a week or so ago, no. (And the final game between LiquidHero and EG's Puma was one of the best pro SC2 games I've seen)

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