I was given an opportunity to review “Second Skin”…
“Second Skin takes an intimate look at three sets of computer gamers whose lives have been transformed by online virtual worlds…From individuals struggling with addiction to couples who have fallen in love without meeting; from disabled players…Second Skin opens viewers’ eyes to a phenomenon that may permanently change the way human beings interact.”
(In regards to the production values of the movie: I’ve never played World of Warcraft, and EverQuest, so I must assume that the graphical representations that are displayed of the games in the movie are the same as it is when played on a computer and console.)
One of the first things that caught my attention was the statement that: in (real) life, we can be considered to begin our journey…if you will…with nothing of value. In a virtual life, it doesn’t need to be that way. And, similar to outsourcing a school report, there have been opportunities to gain credit for work someone else has done when it comes to gaming. “Gold farming” is examined. It’s where you hire someone to do the work that will strengthen and enhance your account within a game.
“Second Skin” explains why playing games can offer social possibilities. Especially for those who find it difficult to socialize. In life, we sometimes need to create an event which we can use to begin a relationship with someone. (I have always hated “dating”: I hate going to dinner and a movie for the only reason of spending time with someone. Some of the best times I’ve spent with a “date” have been when she was watching television, and I was relaxing and listening to music with my headphones on…doing what we want together, even if we’re not doing the same thing.) Games offer an opportunity to enter into a prepared scenario for interaction. And, it can be easier to “dump” someone you lose interest in…
Online, you can sometimes be who you want to be or wish you were: thinner, younger, male/female, etcetera. Doing so could help you offline, as it can give confidence from the experiences and practice in socializing.
In addition to accessing people and places that…for whatever reason…are out of reach, people can do things that they may never have an opportunity to. (I am reminded of simulation games that allow you fly airplanes and operate trains.) Through an avatar, those physically disabled can: go to dances, climb rocks, and participate in other things that they currently are unable to. In the movie we are introduced to a gamer and game developer who uses a wheelchair. Technology has, and can, remove barriers.
Another perspective considered is that, online, “the real you”…the person you are, but don’t show…could be displayed. In real life, people may consider you nice and peaceful…because you don’t break rules and violate laws. But, if you could get away with it, online you might behave differently. So when in a virtual world you allow your online persona to be the person you wish you were, and to do things you cannot in real life.
The online community is worldwide. And so are relationships. In my view, that means that the odds of being able to find someone with who you will be compatible with in some way (friendship and other) increase in your favor! So, this could be a good thing for those who aren’t like most…who aren’t like the norm. (Like me…)
Just a warning to heterosexual males: the movie states that the ratio of female gamers to male gamers…is 1 to 10.
Exclusive communities do exist, though. “The Syndicate” is one of them: “…The Syndicate is the most successful Virtual Community in the history of Online Gaming…we only actively recruit new members for our presences in two major MMOs which are the worlds of Ultima Online and World of Warcraft. The Syndicate isn’t just a guild…” That description does not do them justice. They seem “uppity”…”country-club uppitty”…
This movie does attempt to address issues from life to death. The story of one gamer involves his wife’s pregnancy, and their life after the birth of their children.
When covering the subject of video game addiction, there’s the story of a guy who was addicted to videogaming who committed suicide. But it seems that gaming alone did not contribute to his decision to commit suicide…it appears that he may have pursued an online relationship, and the person he was interested in was not interested in him. As happens in “real life”…
This movie reminded me of what I’ve been saying about other activities. People who are considered to have played video games too much, are very similar to those who watch hours and hours of television. I’ve never been able to understand those who appear to sit all day and all night, and watch ANYTHING that is on. Some of the gamers profiled in the movie were overweight, and I assume unhealthy. And I believe that a lot of “couch potatoes” are also. But, then again, with the majority of our national population gaining weight due to horrible diets, it might not just be gamers and television watchers.
Watching “Second Skin” reminded me of similar documentary I had seen: “You Only Live Twice”…it was mostly about Second Life.
You can watch it at these links: