Second Skin Documentary

I finally watched the documentary on gamers called, Second Skin. I had heard about this film through some blogs on virtual worlds related to Second Life. Since I haven’t been to a film festival in over 15 yrs, I knew I wasn’t going to see this till it hit DVD or cable. Luckily Hulu is showing the movie free until Aug. 13.

I used to be a serious MMO gamer.  I gradually reduced my own game play to that of a casual gamer now.  I can relate to a few of the people profiled or at least remember meeting people online that were similar. I suppose the overall direction that this film does is make it seem that anyone playing any MMO is an addict. Yes, there was an extremely brief positive note about a person playing Second Life and how it was a positive experience for him to over come his disability. Maybe that was just thrown in there to reduce the negativity of the entire film.

Is it a bad film? No, it does show the average age group of gamers and different aspects of their own experience playing an MMO. The main thing people must keep in mind it does not show the average gamer. Instead it shows mainly stereotypes of gamers. Stereotypes always have some truth in them, but they are still stereotypes and do not go for all people.

I think the most irksome part of this film for me was having the mother of a mentally disturbed person that committed suicide over EverQuest. She is apparently still in denial of her son’s fragile mental state and still blaming EQ for his death. It was a very tragic out come for her and her son. I am not minimizing that at all. But he needed mental help in a bad way which seems to have been dismissed by either him or his mother. I am only going by what was said in the movie and some old news articles. It just seems that since the therapist didn’t tell her that yes, the video game was a problem which is what she wanted to hear, that the therapist was dismissed entirely. The other thing the movie did was to basically place her as the “expert” on gaming addiction. Or in her view that all gamers are addicts. Neither of which is true.

Also the gamers that they show in this movie are only MMORPG gamers. They do not go into gamers on game consoles. Believe me there are probably just as many gaming addicts on those consoles as on a MMO. Call of Duty:WAW has levels that you have to grind up to. Each level will unlock more equipment for the player. Sounds familiar to a MMO player. So there you go, people are playing that just as much, but not for years on end like an MMO. Why? Simple, in an MMO you build relationships up with other people that you play with. On something like CoD:WAW, well…..it’s a little hard to build up a relationship with guys that just trash talk in the mic.  Yeah, the older players seem to try to get people to do actually strategy but good luck with that. Although people do have Clans (aka guilds) for CoD now, which could help build up relationships and tactical play.  (One note, I’ve only watched my husband play the game. I’ve only played that in Co-Op with him or the solo campaign. ) So for MMO players you do get a bit more interaction with other players which can further draw people into the game. There is simply more time to communicate with each other.

So to sum it up, even though there is a rather negative slant to this film, I would still recommend this to people to watch. Especially if you’ve played any MMO. You’ll most likely say to yourself, “Hey, I know someone like that!” or “That’s hitting too close to home”.  Just prepare yourself mentally if you are a MMO gamer for basically the usually negative stereotypes. Then you’ll be happy to see it isn’t that bad except for that mother. Ugh…

Edit Note: Fancast has a very good interview with the director of Second Skin.

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~ by Kittenanne Mousehold on August 10, 2009.

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