The term LAN stands for Local Area Network. Many computer games on the market facilitate the ability to play with other gamers via online networks or through direct local area networks. LAN’s are created by people connecting two or more computers within the same physical space. LAN’s use direct connections which enable a much greater transfer speed than online and as such greatly enhance (primarily lag reduction) game play (Swalwell, 2003).
Most LAN’s are set up by gaming enthusiasts who meet periodically and are willing to bring their own computer to an agreed venue. The event needs to be well organised as it can be a logistically challenging task (Swalwell, 2003) setting up each computer with the appropriate space (physical area), electrical access and network access. Another issue is that most popular network games require powerful computers to run them. The most powerful computers on the market are generally desktop systems so bringing the computer itself can be a laborious task. LAN events can contain other technical complications such as system and software compatibility. LAN events are found to be entertaining social events by the participants despite all the complications mentioned above.
Alternatively, gaming centres and an increasing number of Internet cafe’s will have permanent networks set up which gamers can use for a fee. These venues appeal to gamers as they eliminate most of the organizational hassles that private LAN gatherings can involve. The gaming centres will have the correct software and hardware configured so gamers have the freedom to play the games whenever they want. Another important feature of gaming centres is that they partially assist in closing the gap in the digital divide by providing access to the technology needed to play these games. Not everybody can afford high-end computer systems and software required to participate in LAN gaming.