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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 01:38 GMT
Gamers hit the big screen
Simon Bysshe is a film student at the Arts Institute in Bournemouth but has also found time to become the unofficial chronicler of the international computer gaming scene. Here he tells BBC News Online how it all came about.

Still from Modern Day Gamer 2
The film features gamers and footage from top tournaments
It all started in May this year when, as part of a project for an Art foundation course, I made a short documentary about my hobby of computer gaming. It's a pastime which has always been considered geeky and anti-social by the mainstream media.

The film was called Modern Day Gamer and featured some touching interviews with regular gamers. I posted the film on the ES Reality gaming website and really only expected a couple of friends to download it.

But in two days the film was downloaded over 700 times and crashed the server it was hosted on.

I decided to keep on promoting it and, in the end, word of its success got out to the influential slashdot website which led to it being written about by BBC News Online.

The publicity meant that within three weeks it had been downloaded over 40,000 times.

Audience participation

I've been interested in net technology for a long time and this has helped me make best use of the internet to promote my films.

There are many specialist techniques you need to understand before you can successfully use the net to attract huge download success.

Unfortunately most film-makers are not very technically literate. They do not recognise the huge promotional potential that online screening of their films can bring. Perhaps my advantage comes from running a software company for two years before becoming interested in film making.

Simon Bysshe, gamer and film maker
Modern Day Gamer 2 was a quest to try and bring out what is so great about gaming and also what needs to happen before we can see it hitting the mainstream
Simon Bysshe
The success of Modern Day Gamer meant I became quite well known within the online gaming community.

Its success spurred me to contact Intel and ask if it would sponsor me to attend and film some events with Four Kings, the UK's only professional gaming team, that the chip-maker sponsors.

They turned me down quickly and I was left without many options on what to do next.

I decided to fund my way to the E-Sports World Cup in Poitiers, France, that took place in July. At the event I made a film which was released online three weeks later.

Called ESReality Uncut, it featured interviews with all the star players at the event such as Fatal1ty, Prozac and Zero4.

This film was downloaded even faster than Modern Day Gamer and within two weeks it had been downloaded 35,000 times. All I had to do was post news about it on all of the right gaming websites and the news of the film spread from there, totally viral.

I then approached Intel again with news of the film's success and it decided to pay my way to the QuakeCon tournament in Dallas, Texas to make Modern Day Gamer 2.

This time the film would be about the advent of professional gaming and would prominently feature its team Four Kings Intel.

Screengrab from Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Activision
Wolfenstein: Popular with online gamers
The film was shot in August and since getting back I've been working on post production. It was finally released on 22 November.

Modern Day Gamer 2 is about the emergence of "professional gaming" - the people who take gaming that much more seriously and get paid to do it.

The film was a quest to try and bring out what is so great about gaming and also what needs to happen before we can see it hitting the mainstream.

Within 48 hours it received over 20,000 downloads. It's really crazy.

High life

After the success of Modern Day Gamer 2 I've become something of an online celebrity film-maker.

I get numerous e-mail messages and tons of private messages when I log into online chat programs from people that want to ask me about the films. It's gone bonkers.

Intel love the new film and it is now dedicated to making more "online only" documentary films like it.

I've been asked to direct a new film project by Intel and this time it is hiring a professional film crew and editing suite to use.

The film will be of an exhibition match between Four-Kings Intel and the French Armateam clan which will take place at Landed Lan 5 in Oxford in early December.

I feel that the online screening of films isn't being given the attention it deserves.

Only a few directors are really experimenting with this new approach to film distribution, my inspiration really comes from Mark Blaney of Footprint Films who was the first person to ever release a feature film online with www.thisisnotalovesong.com.

If an inexperienced film student can get 100,000 downloads then what could happen if it was done properly?

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