THEY have been resting up all week and now computer whizzes from all corners of the south-west have got their game faces on for a marathon 26-hour event.Set for the ultimate all-nighter, more than 50 gamers will converge on Warrnambool this weekend to take part in multiplayer competition LAN of the Damned XXI.The event kicks off at noon on Saturday and wraps up at 2pm on Sunday and only the most dedicated will survive.Once considered kids' play or strictly for nerds, multiplayer gaming events now attract anyone from IT professionals to high school students, said organiser Jason Thornton.``Computer games used to be regarded as a nerdy activity but in these more modern times it has become more popular among lots of people,'' he said.``They come from all different walks of life, from dairy farmers to computer technicians.''Mr Thornton said he and a group of friends originally organised LAN of the Damned to complement a similar bi-annual Warrnambool gaming event called MorB LANs. Other affiliate events are held in Geelong and Ballarat.Mr Thornton said the big drawcard of a LAN event was gamers got the chance to play against each other by connecting their computers, which they brought to the event, using a local area network (LAN) in a social setting.``When you are at home you're by yourself but if you come to an event you can play against friends and with people, it's more fun and more enjoyable,'' Mr Thornton said.Held every few months since 2002, the event has grown in popularity and gained sponsorship from south-west fast food outlets, computer and gaming companies and South West Institute of TAFE's advanced diploma of computer systems engineering.Despite the prizes up for grabs, Mr Thornton said there was no pressure to make it through the night and most gamers were there to have fun.``A lot of people don't sleep, others might have a nap in their chair or duck home for a quick sleep and come back later,'' he said.One gamer who will be getting as much sleep as he can leading into the event is Warrnambool's Leon Smith.``If you stay awake all night it does feel like a bit of an achievement but it's all a bit of fun,'' he said.With an interest in computers since he was eight, the 35-year-old said he remembered when monitors only showed text on the screen, graphics were unheard of and there was definitely no colour.Trained in multimedia, Mr Smith said he'd also seen the stigma of being a computer gamer change.``I don't really mind being called a nerd, it's not really a taboo word any more,'' he said.``It's like any sport or any sort of group, we have social events where we discuss things we're interested in.''The 21st LAN of the Damned event will be held at the Warrnambool College Hall. Go to http://lanotd.viclan.org.au/ for more information.
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