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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 June, 2003, 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK
Gaming film shoots to thrill
By Mark Ward
BBC News Online technology correspondent

A short documentary about online gaming is proving just how popular the pastime has become.

Footage from Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Vivendi
Games are looking better all the time
So many people downloaded the film that they overwhelmed the server of the university that was hosting it.

Made by art student Simon Bysshe, Modern Day Gamer gives a small group of players a chance to talk about their hobby.

It is one of a growing number of films exploring the phenomenon of online gaming.

A student at the Winchester School of Art, Mr Bysshe made the film as part of his coursework.

The film was made during May, when Mr Bysshe and a few friends gathered for a weekend of playing games against each other.

Sharp shooter

The group played Diablo II, Aliens versus Predator, Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Total Annihilation.

As gaming has grown in popularity such small-scale parties have become popular and let friends that often only meet online put a face to a name.

Though rough in places, the film lets the gamers speak for themselves about how they got into gaming, why they enjoy it and what they get out of it.

Screengrab from Aliens versus Predator, Vivendi
Sometimes just surviving is tricky
"Gaming is a huge thing," said Mr Bysshe.

"Thousands of people play games all around the UK and the world and it's gone largely unnoticed," he told BBC News Online.

A note about the film was posted to the ES Reality gaming site along with a link that let people download the 70Mb file. Soon after this a short write-up and link was put on the popular Slashdot news website.

The film was downloaded so many times that it clogged the server hosting it at the University of Southampton, the parent institution of the Winchester School of Art.

The crowd downloading the film prevented others getting to the University of Southampton's homepage, hosted on the same server.

Cult click

Mr Bysshe estimates that during the busiest hour, film fans took up more than 50 gigabytes of bandwidth. He believes the file has been downloaded more than 10,000 times.

"I did have ambitions for it but really had no idea that it would click with so many people," he said.

Mr Bysshe's next project is also about gamers and will involve him following and filming the UK's 4K gaming clan as they travel to and compete in tournaments.

The film is one of a small number of documentaries produced recently that explore the world of gamers and gaming.

Most documentary makers have focussed on gaming as a whole but one has focussed entirely on the fantasy online game EverQuest.

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