The Duct-Taped Gamer Speaks for the First Time in Upcoming Documentary

You've probably seen a photo of Drew Purvis taped to the ceiling during a 2003 PC gaming LAN party. Now, he's getting a documentary.
March 4, 2020, 5:13pm
The Duct-Taped Gamer Speaks for the First Time in Upcoming Documentary
Screengrab: YouTube

If you’re a gamer on the internet, you’ve probably seen the picture: it’s a LAN party in the time of CRT monitors and beige towers. The players appear to be in a basement. One of the players is duct taped to the ceiling, his arms dangling so he can reach his PC.

The Duct-Taped Gamer was an early internet meme and a legend. For more than 15 years, we’ve speculated about who he was, how he got up there, and if the duct taped cocoon affected his ability to no-scope noobs in Counter-Strike. Thanks to the upcoming documentary Internet Legends: Duct-Taped Gamer, we finally get the duct-tape-cocooned player’s side of the story.

The Duct-Taped Gamer was Drew Purvis, then a student at Mason High School in Mason, Michigan. Purvis and his friends frequently gathered in the basement of a friend’s house on weekends for extended Local Area Network (LAN) parties. If you weren’t gaming during that era, this means that people in a room physically wired their computers together to play competitive multiplayer games. The duct-tape incident occurred on the evening of March 29, 2003.

“The LAN was fractured early on—some were playing Alien Vs. Predator, some Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars, others Counter-Strike: Half-Life,” filmmaker Tyler Knowles said. “With different people wanting to do different games or file share, boredom kicked in and out of the blue, someone said, ‘Hey, we should duct-tape someone to that ceiling.’ Without missing a beat, Drew volunteered.’”

‘“I’ll try anything once. Sometimes twice,’” Purvis told Knowles in an interview.

“So, it wasn’t really anything intentional or due to a shortage of space...this was mainly due to people playing different games, and no one expected it to ever be an ‘internet-famous’ thing at the time,” Knowles said. At just 155 pounds, and with the help of a tall friend—6’7” according to Knowles—the players assembled a duct tape cocoon.

It took a few tries. The initial cocoons weren’t comfortable and couldn’t hold Purvis’ weight. After a trip to ACE Hardware for more duct tape and the addition of pillows to line the cocoon, Purvis finally had a roost. “Gaming from the cocoon was an afterthought, but Chad assisted [Purvis] in getting his gaming gear on top of a table and high enough for [Purvis] to partake in Counter-Strike: Half Life,” Knowles said.

The photo landed on the internet soon after the LAN party.

“The gaming community has certainly embraced the photo, but most anyone who remembers CRT monitors, beige computer towers, early-2000s gaming before high speed internet in the home, and LAN parties, can relate,” Knowles said.

Knowles is still working on the documentary. He has a few more interviews to conduct, but he’s edited together the footage he has now. “The final product will be shared for free online and perhaps appear in some film festivals,” he said. “It will be a short film that explores the prank—the things we do in small-town-America when we’re bored—as well as LAN party culture and technology, and gaming of the era. It will be a nice dose of nostalgia for anyone who remembers it, and it will serve up answers to some of the internet’s questions over the photo and clear up some misconceptions.”

The documentary will be the first time Purvis himself has spoken about the incident and the first time his face will be revealed to the general public, in all its glory.