Google engineer builds ultimate LAN party house
December 13, 2011
Anyone who has a attended a LAN party - where people connect their computers on one network in one location to play multiplayer games together - can tell you that they can be both very fun but also kind of a hassle. Playing games with your friends all in the same room: fun. Having to organize all your friends to each haul their usually-oversized gaming rigs to one person's house, ensuring they all have the same software, and inevitably dealing with one or more people having trouble connecting: not fun. With that in mind, it makes sense that one Google employee decided to bypass all that inconvenience and just build a house specifically for LAN parties, complete with multiple networked computers and TVs connected to game consoles.
Kenton Varda, a software engineer with Google, moved into his dream home in March but has just now revealed some of the inner workings of the gaming-centered house. On the surface the house appears pretty typical, but when guests are over the space transforms into a haven for gamers. Twelve fold-out PC stations are built into the walls for easy storage and are split between two rooms for team vs. team matches. The stations themselves only contain a monitor with a mouse and keyboard, while the actual computers are housed in a different room and connected to a server machine. When putting together the computers, Varda went for a hardware configuration that balanced price and performance. However, since he does not own multiple copies of each game, guests still need to log into their personal Steam, Battle.net, etc. accounts to play using their own licensed copies.
Just setting up computers on a network isn't going to automatically ensure a LAN party-ready home though. Those machines are each going to need software updates for the operating system and games constantly, which would be time consuming to do on every individual PC. Luckily, Varda thought of this and had the server machine host a master disk, which can be used to sync all the machines with the latest updates all at once.
In addition to the stations, the house contains two large TVs connected to various game consoles, though Varda says those are usually just used to stream pro Starcraft matches. The house also has a security setup with cameras and motion detectors, along with some custom software of Varda's own design that sends picture updates to his email and phone and can stream a real-time video feed. The actual design of the living areas (this is his home after all) was handled by his father, Richard Vardas. In the future, Kenton hopes to improve on the tech in his home further by installing whole-house audio, solar panels, and Dance Dance Revolution using Google TV.