'LAN-party house' guy spills important cost details

Google software engineer: It's 'within reach'


Yesterday we brought you the story and pictures of Google software engineer Kenton Varda's new "LAN-party house," which has left gamers both slack-jawed and thirsting for more information, specifically: How much does a set-up like that cost?

Overnight, Varda responded to my email and provided the important details (albeit not all of them) about his Palo Alto abode.

Here's what he had to say, caveats first:

"I'm hesitant to quote the full cost of the house because housing costs in my area are very skewed and cannot really be compared to other places in the country.  I worry that people will latch on to the number and draw conclusions without understanding that in another city the same house might cost half or a third of the price.  I want people to understand that this kind of project is within reach of much more than just those in the upper 5% income range.  Ideally I'd like to be inspiring people to work on their own crazy projects.

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"FWIW, the house is 1426 square feet, not the enormous mansion that many have speculated."

That said ...

"Of course, the thing that everyone thinks is so awesome about this house is not the location, but the gaming rig, and there I'd be happy to put up some numbers.  The PC-gaming-specific additions to the house -- including parts for 12 game machines and one server, 12 keyboards, 12 mice, 12 monitors, 12 35' HDMI cables, 12 32' USB cables, rack-mount equipment, network equipment, network cables, and the custom cabinetry housing the fold-out stations -- came to approximately $40,000.  The cabinetry was the biggest single chunk of that, at $17,910."

If you think 40 grand is a lot to spend on a gaming set-up, so does Varda ... sort of.

"It's certainly a lot of money, and not an investment I took lightly.  But I wanted to do something different, crazy, and awesome.  Instead of buying a luxury car or going on expensive vacations, I plowed my money into a bunch of computer equipment that I can share with my friends.  I'm pretty happy with the decision.  :) "


Has he been at all surprised by the reaction to his blog post and pictures?

"I honestly didn't know what to expect.  I knew there was a possibility that it would go viral, but now that I've seen it happen, I wish I had done a more complete write-up on the technical details ahead of time.  I intend to post details soon, but the viral phase has passed now so I know many fewer people will see them."

He's hosted parties already, of course. So what's been the reaction of his guests?

"The guests so far have mostly been people that I've been LANning with for years, plus a few new people mostly from Google.  Both of these groups have been aware of the project for some time -- the former group for obvious reasons, and the latter because I frequently posted messages inside Google asking for advice along the way.  Everyone's always impressed when they first see it, but they have some idea what to expect ahead of time.

"The biggest reactions come on the few occasions when I've shown the place to someone that wasn't expecting it at all, which is fairly rare (how am I supposed to get someone to visit without telling them why they might want to?)."

Has anyone said anything memorable?

"Nothing in particular stands out in my mind. I haven't had the opportunity to host anyone well-known."

OK, celebrity gamers, that's your cue.

(Update, Dec. 15: Varda has another post up, this one headlined: "LAN-party house: The back-story.")

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