The PSP is one heck of a little game system that promises sci-fi-like, wireless multiplayer gaming and 3-D graphics that rival top video game consoles. It is now possible to have a networked wireless LAN game with friends without having to carry desktop PCs, string Ethernet all over some dank basement, and worry about some loser cheating by running an aim-bot (a cheat program that automatically aims for you) and ruining the fun. Alas, one of the problems facing many PSP gamers is that not that many of their friends have invested $250 USD (as of December 2005) for a PSP of their very own.
How cool would it be to throw your own public PSP wireless LAN party? With some minor planning and fliers, you could throw the nerd gaming event of the season!
First, find a good place to have the LAN party. I would suggest a cafe that serves espresso-based drinks, because they have places to sit with power outlets, and they also have drinks and restrooms. Plus, they are all over the place and not as likely to give you the bum’s rush as coffee and donut shops that prefer quick turnover to customers who linger. I bet that there is not one place in the Western world without a Starbucks or independent coffee shop less than 10 miles away. Just look for a place with parking that is centrally located around town. If you have a cybercafe or gaming center, then the location is a no-brainer.
Another idea is to have the LAN party at a local public library. As long as you ask the librarians in advance, bring headphones, and keep it calm, a library would be a great place for a PSP LANfest. They are also smoke-free, open for all ages, and they don’t have elevator music pumped over the speakers like some cafes. If you open the gaming to the public, however, you might have trouble keeping things quiet, so talk to the librarian about booking a private room for the event if holding a publicly advertised game is your plan.
First of all, talk to the manager of the place you’ve picked. Explain that you would like to have a small get-together of gamers who want to play PSP together. Let the manager know that you plan on ordering drinks or food, and she will most likely not have a problem with it. Give yourself about three weeks to plan before the party to get the word out. Give the manager a call a day before the party as a reminder, in case she forgot.
Next, you need to get the word out to potential PSP gamers. Write up a brief flier with the details of what, where, when, and why (see Figure 4-7).
I would put an email address as a point of contact. Make sure to point out that this is not an official function of the cafe. Then you might print out a couple copies and ask whether you can put some up at local game stores that stock PSP games, at the cafe, and other places where you might expect to find fellow gaming candidates. You then might call the local newspaper and ask whether you can get a shout-out in the community calendar or the technology section of the paper. Who knows? They might just run a full article, if it is a slow news day.
Set up a dedicated email address, such as PSPgame_
YourCity@gmail.com, to coordinate your endeavors and to avoid filling your personal email with LAN party bits and possibly spam.
Then there is this little thing called the Internet. I used to be able to endorse Meetup.com (http://www.meetup.com/), but since they are now charging monthly for meetings, it would not be worth it for a PSP party.
If you end up making your own page to promote it, make sure you submit it to the search engines. A Craig’s List (http://www.craigslist.org/) post for your town could help get the word out. PSP Meets (http://www.pspmeets.com/) is a web site that was inspired by the first version of this article that I posted on 8bit Joystick (http://8bitjoystick.com/). All you really need is just one other person to play with, but the more, the merrier.
You might plan on about three hours or so for a party, so people could play off one PSP battery charge. I would plan it on a weeknight from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., so it would not conflict with work, school, or social life. Make a list of suggested games, and you might want to bring an extra battery pack or AC adapter, in case someone forgets to charge her PSP. This would be a great chance to see and try out new games. You might bring a whiteboard so that if you set up a tournament, you will have something to write the brackets on. You might spare some old PSOne games as a tournament prize. If you have a laptop with a USB Memory Stick Duo reader, bring it so that you can trade and transfer PSP save files [Hack #2] . A CD full of MP4 videos and MP3s for the PSP would make a pretty cool party favor. If you make a signup sheet, you could collect email addresses for future PSP LAN party announcements.
Putting together a tutorial on how to set up the wireless game modes of the games you’ll be playing might help if some of your players have not gotten down with PSP WiFi networking. But, then again, it is not rocket science.
You should prepare a short handout that applies to all games or write this info on the whiteboard:
Make sure that you have the WLAN switch on the On position.
Make sure that you have the PSP set to Ad Hoc Mode rather than Infrastructure Mode. To set up Ad Hoc Mode, navigate to Settings → Network Settings, click the X button, choose Ad Hoc Mode, click the X button, and set to Automatic (or Ch 1, Ch 6, or Ch 11, depending upon what you all agree on). Hit the X button to save the settings.
Since the decline of the arcade in the U.S., there has been a void of public community gaming in the same room. It could be pretty cool to get together once a month with total strangers in your community to throw the smack down on the PSP. You could meet new people, play new games, and really get the most of your PSP networking features. Some critics say that video games are a solitary pastime, but they can be a great way to meet new people and zap them over WiFi.