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Second Skin

Secondskin_dvd I watched a great documentary this weekend called Second Skin about the online game industry (massively multiplayer online role-playing games in particular) and the people who play them.

The DVD was actually sent to me by a film school student at Florida State University who is interning at Liberation Entertainment and helping with the film's promotion. 

I'm not really into MMORPGs (think World of Warcraft, EverQuest, SecondLife), but it's an intriguing documentary for gamers and non-gamers alike. Long-time readers of my blog know that I'm interested in technology and its impact on culture, and this film provides some eye-opening stories and statistics on both.

Among the subjects covered:

  • The strong friendships (and in many cases, romances) built among people who have met in-game, and then pursued their relationships offline, in the "real" world
  • The gigantic industry that has grown up around online games, including $20 Billion in virtual goods exchanged and the gold farmers in China who play around the clock in order to acquire and then sell these valuable items to other gamers (seriously: here's one with a US operation)
  • How online games have given new meaning to the lives of many disabled players, who may be wheelchair bound and unable to talk in the physical world, but can run, jump, talk and laugh in the virtual one
  • The increasing threat of gaming addiction, where some players become so consumed by the game that they miss work, ruin relationships, and lose their homes. A very real problem, it has led to the 12-step program Online Gamers Anonymous and last week's opening of the first Internet Addiction Center in the US.

Footage includes commentary from real gamers and their loved ones, game developers, and researchers who closely follow this emerging trend. Among them, members of the Daedalus Project, a long-running survey study of MMORPG players.

If it sounds intriguing, take a peek at the trailer below, and then check out the full-length film.

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