SXSW Movie Review: Second Skin

Last night I was able to catch a great movie called Second Skin (bad title), about the culture behind the gamers who inhabit the virtual online worlds of World or Warcraft, Everquest and Second Life. Over 50 million people around the world live in these online worlds, and Second Skin takes a look at a few of the characters in this space, running the gambit from a couple who met online in WOW and will be meeting for the first time ever in the real world, to a young man who's addiction to WOW drove him to move into a boarding house as part of a 12-step online gamers self help group called Online Gamers Anonymous.

Most of the people who play these online games are addicted, attracted by the idea of an open playing field where everyone starts with zero, and physical attributes are customizable. Most of the players form groups and fight together in Guilds, some of which have their own extensive application processes complete with personality profiles.

Second Skin is a fantastic look into the lives of people that live in two dimensions, but at what cost or gain?  And then there is the idea of time investment being converted in virtual assets that now have a physical value attached. Over a hundred thousand gold farmers operate out of China, creating an un-level playing field where gold and advanced levels can be bought instead of earned.

But Second Skin is not an anti-gaming, it treats the unique and quirky cast of video game geeks with respect, probably too much at times. Most of my friends are obsessive video gamers, maybe not of the mmorpg variety, but still, I recognize a lot of them in the characters featured in this film. Second Skin could have been Trekkies for hardcore online video gamers, but at times holds back on this type of humor. I feel like the filmmakers, chose to protect some of these characters rather than give full access to the quirks connected with hardcore gamers.

Some relationships are tested by the game, and others formed. One married couple plays online every night for 6 hours in the same room, but on separate computers. Together but apart, but again together virtually. Another couple of friends engage in a week long race to level 70 when a new WOW expansion pack is released.

You don't have to be a video game player to enjoy Second Skin, and you might even enjoy the film more if you you aren't.

/Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10